A number of the UK’s most well-known cathedrals now feature Yamaha audio systems, where the flexibility of the company’s products is making them a popular choice for the acoustically-challenging environments. The latest is St George’s Cathedral in London, seat of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Southwark.
The Metropolitan Cathedral Church of St George (to give it its full name) was built in 1848. Badly damaged during the Blitz of 1941, the following decade it was restored and reconsecrated. Its architecture is typical of what many consider ‘a cathedral’ to be – high, vaulted ceilings, numerous pillars, large leaded windows and expanses of smooth stonework, all of which present challenges to effective sound reinforcement.
Appointed in 2015, one of the first jobs for the new Cathedral Dean – Canon Richard Hearn – was to get to know his congregation. Through this he learned of the difficulties people at the back of the cathedral had in hearing services clearly. Thanks to their long experience of quality house of worship AV installations, Cunnings Recording Associates were recommended to Canon Richard as being able to help.
“The cathedral had an ageing sound reinforcement system, but it had never been properly commissioned,” says the company’s Daniel Cunnings. “No delays or EQ had been set up for any of the loudspeakers and there weren’t enough outputs available for the number of speakers.
“As well as services the cathedral also hosts a range of other events, so there are microphone points throughout the building. The existing system was not easy to operate, so another intention behind the upgrade was to allow them to use their audio facilities to their fullest extent.”
The cathedral commissioned a two-stage upgrade, the first being to quickly and radically improve the sound quality for the spoken word, but with very straightforward control. This meant replacing the existing audio processors and programming the right amount of EQ and delay for each output. Daniel chose a Yamaha MRX7-D and two MTX3 matrix processors, with a DCP1V4S control panel located discreetly in the cathedral sacristy.
“We looked at all available options, but the Yamaha solution was the only one that could provide the range of inputs and outputs we needed. The cathedral wanted the system to be as simple as possible to operate, so the MRX7-D’s onboard Dugan automixing was also essential,” says Daniel.
There are 25 loudspeaker locations throughout the cathedral, including the day chapel and monitors for the choir and organist. The most-regularly used inputs are microphones on the main lectern, the day chapel lectern and above the choir, plus a handful of wireless units.
“The system is zoned and can address each loudspeaker individually, if required,” says Daniel.
“For now the DCP1V4S provides a basic mute, enable and volume adjustment of each zone. One button is also programmed to recall the system back to its base state. Indeed, a reset button is the most important control for many of our clients!”
The next stage of the project will, as Daniel says, “take the project up a gear”. New speakers and amplifiers will further improve the sound, while Yamaha’s multipurpose MCP1 control panel and the ProVisionaire Touch and Wireless DCP apps will be added, allowing comprehensive control of the system. This will also eliminate the need for an analogue mixing console, which had to be brought in for music events and recitals.
“The second stage will happen at the beginning of 2018 but, for now, Canon Richard is very happy that the whole congregation can hear services clearly,” says Daniel. “We have been pleased to help take St George’s into a new era and are looking forward to really making the most of the power of the Yamaha system in stage two of the project.”
Yamaha Commercial Audio is a world leader in the manufacture and supply of professional audio products for a wide range of applications including live sound reinforcement, post production, recording, worship and broadcast. With a world-wide presence, Yamaha’s Commercial Audio subsidiaries and dealer networks provide comprehensive local services backed by a global Yamaha CA support policy.