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Orbital brings expertise to HoW projects

UK company Orbital Sound recently completed installations at two prestigious London houses of worship - St. George's Cathedral in Southwark, and Emmanuel Evangelical Church in Westminster.

Orbital Sound recently completed installations at two London HoWs – St. George’s Cathedral, Southwark, and Westminster’s Emmanuel Evangelical Church. St. George’s now features a new Tannoy D-i5 system in the Archbishop Amigo Jubilee Hall, while Emmanuel Evangelical has been equipped with d&b audiotechnik Q-Series loudspeakers.

Located within a Grade 2 listed building, the conference centre at the Emmanuel Evangelical Church comprises the principal Auditorium seating 1,000, plus two smaller rooms with a capacity of 250 each. Head of sound Richard Edwards has been involved with the venue for more than 10 years, and was looking for a new system to improve overall sound quality in the 250-capacity Upper Hall.

“My experience with d&b audiotechnik has always been positive, and when we got the go ahead to upgrade the room, I had a clear picture of what we wanted,” said Edwards. “Orbital set up a comparative test with a number of different d&b systems, and the Q-Series suited the room perfectly. The building’s listed status puts us under rigid constraints – we cannot simply implement other damping or treatment to overcome the room’s challenges, and a front-fill system would have required planning permission. We therefore rely 100% on the main pair of speakers to provide full room coverage. The Q7’s tight dispersion keeps the sound exactly where we want it, as well as drastically cutting echo. I am also impressed by the off-axis sound quality, which sounds completely normal if quieter. Orbital re-used the existing cabling and infrastructure to minimise the impact of the new installation, colour-matching the cabinets to the stone pillars so they blend perfectly into the background. We have had nothing but compliments, with our visiting pro engineers for client events blown away by the quality. A great result all-round.”

The Emmanuel Centre is also the UK’s first user of the new d&b audiotechnik two-way high performance M6 stage monitor system, purchasing five M6 cabinets, together with a single M4 unit – all supplied by Orbital.

Meanwhile, a long-running association with St. George’s Cathedral led to a recent return visit by Orbital to install a Tannoy D-i5 sound system and consult on the viability of a second induction loop. The company was brought in for this latest stage of work by Jonathan Louth Architects (JLA).

Bill Hodge of JLA remarked: “We were impressed with Orbital, who acted in a true consultancy fashion, assessing the feasibility of the second induction loop, in conjunction with a specialist. We were advised that it was physically impossible, therefore avoiding a costly investment to no effect. Orbital worked with us to fit up the speakers and control systems, completing the room on schedule.”

Regarding the overall HoW market, Chris Headlam, MD of Orbital Sound, tells PSNE: “The ecclesiastical market is certainly a growth area for Orbital, and is complementing our more mainstream theatre-orientated work. In fact, the markets are not that dissimilar. Both need careful consideration of the frequently problematic acoustics, alongside the requirement to ensure systems are installed as discreetly and sensitively as possible. Installations are often in listed buildings, and you have to work sensibly within the architectural and aesthetic constraints. Fortunately, the appropriate tools are available in the shape of loudspeaker developments that offer increasingly small designs with very large capabilities – particularly from manufacturers such as d&b audiotechnik – backed by the new-generation digital consoles and cabling systems. With an increasing number of houses of worship becoming multi-purpose venues in their own right, we perceive the markets gradually moving closer.”