JBL sound system upgrade for Britain’s smallest Cathedral
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JBL sound system upgrade for Britain’s smallest Cathedral

Located in St Asaph, North East Wales – whose Welsh name Llanelwy means sacred religious enclosure on the banks of the River Elwy - the beautiful St Asaph’s Cathedral is recognised as the smallest Cathedral in Britain, and one of the oldest in Wales. The Cathedral, whose present structure dates back to the 15th Century, has recently received a comprehensive audio system upgrade combining HARMAN’s JBL Professional loudspeakers, Crown amplifiers, BSS processing and AKG microphones.

When it came to seeking an upgrade to the installed audio system, the Cathedral’s team turned to Richard Hughes, manager of Richard King Systems. Canon for Communications at St Asaph’s Cathedral, Canon John Liston, commented, “We started a long time before the final spec was agreed, Richard was prepared to come down here and look at our needs get to know the cathedral better, and he made it very straightforward.”

“The initial part of this process was in-depth consultation discussions with the Cathedral team to establish their needs and aspirations.” confirmed Richard.

In designing the system, Richard Hughes was naturally mindful of the need to deliver outstanding audio performance, whilst minimising the visual impact on the interior of the Grade one listed Cathedral.

To accomplish this, he turned to the HARMAN Professional audio portfolio, with a solution centred around HARMAN’s JBL Professional’s CBT column loudspeakers. With a non-intrusive aesthetic, the CBT Series is specifically designed to deliver highly intelligible audio in reverberant acoustic spaces.  In total, 14 x CBT 50 and 4 x CBT 100 column speakers are installed, mounted sympathetically for even sound coverage. In the nave and under the tower flush brackets are used with The South Aisle and Presbytery CBT 50’s coupled with angled brackets for optimum sound.  

All are powered by HARMAN Crown CDi Series amplifiers.

“We continue to receive very positive customer reactions to the inclusion of JBL CBT loudspeakers in many system installations.” he confirmed. “JBL’s research and development in this product range has been very beneficial for us and our customers in providing first class sound solutions.”

To optimise the performance, and to provide ease of use to operators, the system design incorporates powerful processing capabilities via a HARMAN BSS BLU-100 signal processor and its companion iPad app.

 “Behind the scenes we have included automatic mixer control and scene selection which results in operators having a system which is very simple and straightforward to use.” explained Richard.

In terms of microphones, once again the HARMAN portfolio provided all the solutions, with multiple AKG gooseneck microphones installed in fixed positions, and 9 x AKG WMS470 wireless microphone systems on hand deployed for a variety of use cases at Cathedral services and events.

In commissioning the system, Richard King Systems’ engineers carried out extensive measurement of the system performance, including bespoke tuning and worked with the Cathedral’s team to ensure the operator controls matched their requirements.

Richard also praised the valuable support of Matt Watt and Ryan Locker from the Application Team at Sound Technology Ltd, JBL Professional’s exclusive UK distributor, for their assistance in providing EASE models of the SPL coverage of the Cathedral as part of the system proposal.

Richard is proud of the service and solution they have been able to provide. “With our expertise and experience we've been able to provide a comprehensive solution which harnesses today's audio technology for providing the Cathedral with excellent value for money from their financial investment.” he added.

And the Cathedral team certainly agree. “The new sound system is wonderful and we've been supported throughout,” concluded Canon John Liston. “We're now confident when we've got people visiting we have the opportunity to have sound just as we need it.”