ISCVE Shrewsbury Abbey 600x300 Image 2021

Shrewsbury Abbey looking ahead with audio system upgrade

Shrewsbury Abbey has a fascinating history dating back almost 1000 years. It was Roger de Montgomery, one of William the Conqueror’s principal counsellors, who founded the Abbey in 1083.

In the twentieth century the fictional Ellis Peters character Brother Cadfael, was portrayed as a Benedictine monk and herbalist at Shrewsbury Abbey.

In 2019, the Abbey began exploring the replacement of its existing sound system, which had become unreliable and provided poor audio performance. Following word of mouth recommendations and detailed references, the Abbey called in Richard King Systems to design a new solution to meet the forward looking needs of the Abbey.

As a significant Grade one listed building, within the Church of England Lichfield Diocese area, the replacement audio system proposals were subject to close scrutiny by the Diocese Advisory Committee.

Designing for the best possible sound reproduction and coverage, without inappropriate and unacceptable visual intrusion, proved to be challenging and the prohibition of any new masonry holes being allowed to be drilled, added further to the challenging installation.

With a track record of successful installations in ecclesiastical buildings, Richard King Systems set about designing an audio package for their proposed solution for Shrewsbury Abbey, which was later described as “Exemplary”.

Audio coverage of the Abbey’s Nave is provided by three pairs of JBL CBT column speakers on bespoke floor mounted stands, colour matched to be sympathetic to the interior. For the choir stalls existing wall holes were to reused for mounting a number of JBL Control 25-1 loudspeakers.

Loudspeakers are powered by six channels Crown XLS amplifiers via carefully matched and selected 100 volt transformers.

To ensure operator control is “as straight forward as possible” for the Abbey’s users, the audio system is centred around a BSS BLU 100 networked audio processor utilising Harman’s HiQnet Motion Control, via an Apple® Ipad®.  Using the iPad® for control allows for a custom designed user panel, designed specifically for the Abbey. The comprehensive DSP capability of the BSS BLU 100 provides ample capacity for setting up the audio eq’s, digital delays and auto-mixing functions, all vital in this audio environment.

The Abbey’s microphone requirements are met with a selection of both cabled and wireless radio microphone systems from AKG, with a UHF antenna distribution system ensuring there are no blind spots or drop outs.

A Univox audio-frequency induction loop amplifier linked to the BSS BLU 100 networked audio processor provides an audio-loop (for hearing aid users) to the recognised standard IEC 60118-4:2014, AMD1:2017.

Despite considerable supply chain challenges, caused by business interruptions due to Covid-19, the audio system was successfully commissioned and brought into operation, on schedule in September 2021, by the installation team at Richard King Systems who are all members of ISCVE.