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As one of the UK’s most important cultural and religious landmarks, the Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Saint Peter in York, commonly known as York Minster, is considered a national treasure. In 2019, as part of an ongoing maintenance and refurbishment project, the church leaders commissioned the installation of a new audio system, in which audio quality and clarity was paramount, both for speech and music.
Selected for this project was none other than Wigwam, a Solotech brand renowned worldwide for its acoustics expertise in churches and historic buildings. To ensure meeting the exact requirements of the church leadership and to respect the nature of the building’s acoustics, Wigwam Sales Manager Phil Goldsworthy specified d&b audiotechnik column speakers, placed throughout the Minster. The main installation features d&b xC 24C units with a d&b xC 24C-E passive extender on each column. In the end, a total of 60 column speakers were installed, powered by 16 d&b audiotechnik 10D amplifiers, making it one of the largest installations of the xC series ever undertaken.
While the key element to any audio system is how it sounds, of equal importance in the church sector is the ease of use. To make the system easy to operate, Wigwam developed touch screen interfaces with custom graphics that allow users to access the various audio menus. As the system must be operated by staff, both technical and non-technical, Wigwam opted to have the entire system run using the QSC Q-Sys platform, which controls and distributes the audio over a digital network. “Q-Sys has become our go-to solution for audio installations,” explained Goldsworthy. “We’ve already successfully deployed it at Manchester Cathedral where the requirements were very similar to that of the Minster.”
The York Minster is ranked as a Grade I building, that is a “building of exceptional interest” as per the definition of Historic England, the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England. Thus, designing an audio system suited for such a challenging environment was no easy task.
The installation includes a comprehensive cable infrastructure throughout. At the foot of each pillar is a metal plate which can be lifted to reveal ports for audio, video and data. Additional audio devices such as microphones can be patched in via XLR inputs. The video infrastructure is broadcast-compliant for when services are televised. TV companies can install their cameras throughout the York Minster without the need to run unsightly cables around the building.
Goldsworthy is delighted with how the project has turned out. “The sound quality is second to none in a building of this type and the installation is incredibly sympathetic to the Minster. The system provides huge flexibility for a wide range of uses and is simple to operate. It has been a pleasure to work on this project and we look forward to providing support for the system for many years to come.”
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