20 September 2017

Assembly hall enters a new era of intelligibility with d&b

The need to address historic intelligibility problems and improve the overall audio quality were key factors behind a recent installation at Church House Westminster in Central London. The project focused on the venue’s Assembly Hall, a beautiful Grade II listed space used for a range of events including weddings and conferences, exhibitions and training. The historic 664 capacity hall is a cylindrical, split level room encircled by fifteen arched windows, polished oak and a glass domed roof.

For Church House AV Manager, Ian Locke, the reputation and range d&b offered made it first choice for the upgrade. But to ensure the most appropriate units were selected throughout, Locke engaged the services of freelance sound designer and engineer Phil Wright.

“We undertook some tests with the existing system in the downstairs area, and found that for any given impulse we put into the PA we could measure ten to fifteen distinct arrivals at the measurement microphone,” explains Wright. “From an intelligibility point of view it really was a bit of a disaster, so resolving that was priority number one for the new d&b system design.”

Church House’s upstairs area constituted another distinct challenge for Wright and Locke, who were understandably keen to avoid any negative impact from the balcony fill and delay system on the downstairs area. A number of different d&b products were considered before they opted for the 16C column loudspeaker.

“At the very time that we were looking in to equipment for this area of the assembly hall, d&b was bringing out the 16C, and not only did it immediately hit me as being highly suitable on an aesthetic level, it also allowed us to achieve control down to about 400 Hz,” says Wright. “This meant that we could really minimize the amount of information reaching the downstairs area.” Wright is full of praise for the pattern control of d&b systems: “They have become really good at controlling the mid/low frequencies. It’s definitely a brand I will be looking at more keenly for future projects. Everything has now been installed and the improvement has been dramatic.”

After a competitive tender process, London based sound engineering, audio hire, sales and installation company RG Jones was appointed to undertake the installation, with Jeff Woodford as Project Engineer. “The install proceeded very smoothly indeed,” confirms Woodford. “We had about four people onsite doing cabling work and fitting loudspeakers at any one time. The overall improvement in sound quality is clear for everyone to hear – I would say it is about ten times better than before.”

“The new system has made a vast difference,” agrees Locke. “The installation has increased versatility and improved clarity, allowing us to deliver events more successfully. It has also allowed us to deliver a wider range of events as a result of improved response. Investing in sound system design and a great manufacturer has really benefited our engineers and clients. The team has been a pleasure to work and delivered a great result.”