St George’s Chapel at Windsor ranks amongst the UK’s most treasured examples of British heritage. Originally founded in the 14th century by King Edward III, the chapel is regarded as one of the most beautiful ecclesiastical buildings in England and is characterised by large stained glass windows and tall, slender pillars giving the impression of grace and elegance.
Blending imperceptibly with this magnificent and historically rich setting is a totally modern and sympathetically styled loudspeaker system from K-array that has transformed the way that spoken word and music is experienced throughout the building.
The audio design focused on placing loudspeaker sources closer to the listener with controlled dispersion in order to avoid reflections and generate uniform sound coverage over a larger area.
Whitwam Director Andrew Pymm explained that “since the previous sound system went in over ten years ago audio technology had moved on considerably, and with it the need to improve sound delivery in the historic chapel. Our acoustic measurements highlighted that there were areas of seating that suffered from reduced intelligibility, partly because there was only one speaker on every other pillar, and partly due to the age of the original system".
A much better solution was required, one that was really discreet and visually acceptable and which would allow higher density of speakers to improve coverage. Measurement data formed the basis of Whitwam’s solid scientific justification for this approach in a report to the Project Team and Fabric Advisory Committee, and they consequently proposed a K-array speaker system upgrade that was powerful, sonically accurate, and really small.
Vyper half-metre long line arrays form the nucleus of the widely distributed loudspeaker system for the nave, with low frequency reinforcement from Rumble-KU44 I subwoofers hidden behind grilles in the floor where the old heating pipes had once been.
Each of the pillars lining the nave carries Vyper-KV52 I custom colour line arrays: single enclosures on the outsides facing into the side aisles, and double-stacked enclosures directed at the seating areas to give additional throw towards the middle of the building. Increasing the speaker count not only reduces the average audio paths to the congregation but also fills in the previous gaps between the pillars and heightens intelligibility.
The speakers are mounted on custom brackets that were fabricated with keyhole mounting slots to fit neatly within the cleft of the pillar so that cables could run up invisibly behind them, and allow the loudspeakers to be quickly and easily removed for servicing or replacement. Floor-mounted Kobra-KK52 I line arrays are placed for additional sound reinforcement in the Bray and Rutland chantry chapels, and at left and right of the high altar at the east end of the quire.
Additional K-array Lyzard-KZ14 miniature speakers were installed alongside the original JBL Control 52s in the quire and, thanks to their very compact dimensions, simply disappear amongst the woodwork, while floor mounted K-array Rumble-KU44 I subwoofers enhance the low-end response.