St Clement Danes Church on The Strand in London is a magnificent example of a church originally designed by Sir Christopher Wren in the 17th century, which went through a rebuild after being bombed in World War II. As the Central Church of the Royal Air Force, it is a living memorial to those who have died whilst serving their country, and it has recently been further restored in preparation for the RAF’s 100th anniversary celebrations in 2018.
A major part of the restoration was to install an audio system, which would allow a full congregation in the main church and on the balcony to hear every word that is spoken, as well as to enjoy both recorded and live music.
Because of the venue’s Grade 1 listed environment, the aesthetic requirements of the building had to be taken into consideration, with speakers delivering quality sound without being obtrusive, and cable runs being all but invisible.
Ashdown AV, a Bose Pro Partner with extensive experience in introducing discreet audio into heritage buildings, were selected to install a system designed by engineers at Bose working with audio consultant, Gordon Thrussell.
The solution consists of 4 Bose Panaray MA-12 line array speakers situated in the body of the church, with 8 Bose FreeSpace DS100SE speakers placed above the balcony. Bass support comes from 2 concealed Bose Panaray MB12s and the system is driven by a Bose PowerMatch 8250 amplifier, with 2 linked ControlSpace DSPs using Dante cards to offer control from two separate locations.
Ashdown AV fabricated bespoke brackets for the MA-12s to give a clean finish where they are fixed and slightly tilted from the wooden panelling.
According to Liam Pickett, Installation Engineer at Ashdown, the attention to detail meant that the project was a challenge from the outset. Liam commented the following: “The cabling had to run within the wooden panelling, and out of sightlines, and although we could remove some panels, it was a labour of love getting the system to blend into the décor of the church. The Dante capability of the Bose system meant that we could install a single cat5 cable and link the two processors via the network, thus avoiding additional cabling. The Bose speakers give a great even sound coverage across the whole church.”
Padre David Osborn says that he can now look forward to services and other events at the church, without worrying that his congregation will be struggling to hear his words. The church has many events happening on a daily basis, from regular church services, weddings and christenings, to live concerts. Also popular events are official RAF services including, the Laying Up of a Squadron Standard when a squadron is disbanded, or Memorial Services for those who have died whilst serving in the RAF. It is important to ensure that everyone is able to hear everything clearly. With the new sound system, this is no longer an issue, and Padre David Osborn is now eagerly awaiting the celebrations in 2018, when he and many others will celebrate 100 years of the RAF.