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Ecclesistical & Heritage World No.99

Just to be clear: choose your speakers with care

bld article 1Whether you’re a regular member of the congregation or attending a wedding, funeral or some other religious ceremony, there’s nothing more frustrating than having to struggle to understand what is being said. That was brought into sharp focus recently at St Mary the Virgin, in Whitley Bay, North Tyneside – a local church struggling with exactly that sort of sound issue. Complaints of distortion and patchy coverage were common among the congregation, leading to an urgent need for an overhaul of their sound system.

An inspection by experts from Blaydon Communications revealed that the church was equipped with excellent microphones and a professional grade mixing console. The amplifier, while not top-notch, was serviceable. The real culprit behind the poor sound quality was the array of loudspeakers.

bld article 2The main worship area of the church had 10 standard cabinet-type loudspeakers installed, which resulted in a cacophony of sounds that bounced around the space. That meant that the speech was reaching the congregation's ears at different times and angles, significantly degrading the sound quality.

The team from Blaydon Communications reassured the church authorities that their microphones and mixers were more than adequate, thereby shifting the focus onto the speakers themselves. In acoustically challenging environments like churches, the choice of loudspeakers has a direct effect on the quality of the speech reproduction.

bld article 3It was determined that column loudspeakers would be the most effective acoustic solution, as they offer even sound dispersion across a wider area, so fewer can be installed without the coverage suffering. They benefit from being more directional than cabinet loudspeakers, which reduces the amount of sound getting to unwanted parts of the church and being reflected to the listener – thereby improving the intelligibility.

Even though most column loudspeakers have those characteristics, there can still be a vast difference in quality between budget, entry-level products and true professional units. Considering the poor experience that the congregation had been receiving, it was an easy choice to opt for the professional route. The JBL CBT range were specified, and they did not disappoint. A total of four columns were installed and the uplift in volume and clarity was magnificent.

bld article 4The slim and unobtrusive design of the speakers also addressed another critical aspect – aesthetics. The sleek speakers blended seamlessly with the church's interior, preserving its visual integrity.Paul Dougherty, managing director of Blaydon Communications, emphasised the uniqueness of each church's architectural and acoustic requirements.

bld article 5“In this instance column speakers were the ideal solution,” he explained, “and we are confident that the enhanced audio quality will significantly improve the experiences of visitors and service users at this beautiful community church. It was a pleasure to work in such a revered space, and we are delighted with the outcome, both audibly and visually.”

This case study underscores the importance of choosing the right audio equipment for houses of worship. The correct sound system can transform a space, making every word and note of a service clear and impactful. When considering an upgrade or installation, consulting with sound experts is crucial to ensure that the chosen solutions align with the unique characteristics of the space and meet the needs of its congregation.

The journey of St Mary the Virgin’s church from muddled to magnificent sound is a testament to the power of the right audio technology in enhancing the worship experience. This case vividly illustrates how column speakers, when chosen and installed thoughtfully, can resolve complex acoustic challenges – turning a space of worship into a haven of clear, resonant sound.

For further information visit blaydoncomms.co.uk