St. Aidan’s Roman Catholic Church in Little Chalfont was to undergo a major structural refurbishment. This provided a perfect opportunity to upgrade their AV capabilities for the future and to make the installation almost invisible.
St. Aidan’s is blessed with an unusually large group of musicians and singers; over the last ten years the choir has been enhanced with an extensive range of acoustic and electronic instruments, all located in a side aisle. The problem was that the musicians could not be clearly heard by the congregation because the original installed sound system was designed for speech only. Furthermore, the church is fully utilised for a number of different worship formats.
To cater for all the different styles of worship, a sound mixer with “snapshot recalls” of the key settings for each worship format was installed. A connection panel in the musicians’ area provides both microphone and instrument inputs, as well as outputs to foldback loudspeakers; all these signals are transmitted down a small network cable. The sound mixer was set up to allow for different levels of skill and locks out controls not normally used by the less experienced sound operators.
High quality sound is relayed to the main worship area via two discreet and highly directional loudspeakers with other areas served by discrete smaller units. The large number of live microphones can be controlled by a system that automatically mutes those not being used; this reduces the possibility of feedback and further improves clarity by eliminating background noise pickup.
A suspended “Magic” screen to the front left side of the platform met the need for a large, unobtrusive, projection surface. Remote control allows the screen to “disappear” and is interlocked with the projector, hidden in a bespoke cabinet that matches nearby furniture. Discreet flat screens for the musicians, either side of the platform and the Crèche were also installed, mirroring the main large screen. A vision matrix provides seamless transitions between the various video sources to display high definition broadcast TV quality images.
During this complex project, it was necessary for Hazelwood Sound & Vision to co-ordinate with the various on-site trades whilst installing the cabling infrastructure, as it would be inaccessible once the new suspended ceiling was in place. Installation of the electronic hardware was completed after the builder’s handover and the dusty environment was stabilised.
Deacon John Crowshaw said “Hazelwood listened very carefully to our problems and vision for the future. They had the right experience from recent projects that were demonstrated to us. They provided us with the confidence, guidance and support to turn our vision into reality, despite major concerns from the Diocese about what was being proposed”.