Leicester Cathedral upgrades for Richard III’s reinterment

Pro-audio and acoustics consultancy NoiseBoys Technologies won the contract to supply and install the sound system for the reinterment of King Richard III, following the discovery of the monarch’s bones in a car park in Leicester three years ago. 

Planning for the project has taken two years, with the installation itself taking two months, but NoiseBoys, based in Lutterworth, were suitably prepared for the arrival of the king at Leicester Cathedral.

This sparked a complete overhaul of the AV system: The speakers are by Pan Acoustics, featuring the unobtrusive Pan Beam steerable column arrays, with JBL CBT 50 columns in the side chapel areas. The control system is from BSS Soundweb, and is designed to be very capable, yet simply presented to the users, most of whom are non-technical staff or volunteers. Day-to-day control of the Soundweb is achieved via a touch-screen tablet, allowing unexperienced vergers to tap once to set up the entire cathedral, but more advanced users to mix services live. By using AKG radio microphones and Crown amplification, NoiseBoys were able to tie everything together and monitor the whole system from the control tablet, from amplifier temperatures to RF levels.

The microphones consist of AKG DSR-700 radio microphones with DPA D:Fine 66 headsets, all monitored from the touch-screen, as well as ambient mics for recording and relay to the back of house areas. The whole system is connected using a variety of cabling options by Van Damme. The 3.5km of cabling includes assemblies of dual Cat 6, coax, HD-SDI, blue and white line signal cables, 90% of which is hidden under floors and in ceilings.

Phill Beynon, technical director at NoiseBoys, commented: “The challenge was to offer a more innovative approach, one that not only sounds great but that also visually compliments the new aesthetics of the cathedral. We’ve replaced 20 speakers with nine new ones, and improved the sound tremendously. Reducing the number of speakers and using cutting edge technologies has meant that we have minimised the impact on the fabric of the Grade 1 listed building.

“The installation uses steerable array speakers which we have used to digitally direct the sound only to where it is needed, minimising reflections and maximising clarity,” Beynon continued. “Each speaker delivers a really pleasing natural speech quality, yet the sound still arrives at the listener with a blend of the cathedral’s space and acoustics. We’re really pleased with the Pan Beam arrays, which have the added advantage of taking power, data and signal down any old two-pair cable, meaning that we only had to get one feed of tiny signal cable to each speaker.