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Historic Fleet Street Church Gets AQ6 Upgrade

St. Bride’s parish church in Fleet Street is one of the capital’s best-known monuments and a house of worship that dates back to the 6th century

Historic Fleet Street Church Gets AQ6 Upgrade

Jul 20, 2006 8:00 AM

The well-known St. Bride’s church on Fleet Street in London hosts a range of events—from Sunday worship services to weddings, conferences, and lectures.

Built by Sir Christopher Wren in the 1680s following the Great Fire of London, St. Bride’s parish church in Fleet Street is one of the capital’s best-known monuments and a house of worship that dates back to the 6th century.

Long associated with the printing and newspaper industries, St. Bride’s today stages a wide variety of events—from Sunday worship services to lunchtime concerts, weddings, conferences, editors’ forums, lectures, and memorial services.

The expanding nature of the church’s program exposed serious limitations in the existing public address system, so broadcast/multimedia specialists Interactive View specified the replacement of the old sound rig with 16 discrete, ultra-compact Martin Audio AQ6 loudspeakers as part of an overall package. These are powered by three Martin Audio MA900 amplifiers and optimized using Allen & Heath DSP.

The AQ6 is a two-way passive trapezoidal speaker with a 6.5in. long-throw LF driver and a 1in. horn-loaded dome HF driver, with the vented enclosure ensuring extended bass response. As such, it represented a perfect solution for St. Bride’s.

The church’s administrator, James Irving, explains the background to the refit. “The first system we had in the early 1970s was for preacher reinforcement, using fixed point and lapel mics, but this was unsuitable for anyone not used to public speaking.

“In 1995 this was upgraded to a wireless system. It was much improved but still had limitations—and last year, when a mic gave up during a high-profile service, we realized something had to be done.”

Refusing the temptation to try and get the system in before Christmas, the system integrators, working alongside an IT and sound specialist who was on the church’s board of trustees, put together a more elaborate solution. This included a Sharp 20in video monitor, Panasonic DVD recording, and broadcast facilities for media streaming to the Web, with a single fixed camera point—all under AMX master control. To facilitate this, a new Cat-5 cabling infrastructure was required.

“We wanted to take this opportunity to look to the future,” James says, “and to be able to relay what we’re doing beyond the church. We have also provided a bit of headroom for the choir in the shape of some boundary mics.”

In particular, St. Bride’s administrator is delighted with the sensitivity with which Interactive View has treated the mounting of the AQ6s in the Grade I-listed building.

“There is a lot of oak paneling and they have been able to work within the dovetails to ensure that nothing is protruding, and the speakers are angled correctly. Aesthetically they are superb—we have used gray AQ6s where they abut the stonework and black everywhere else.”

He confirmed that the work had been funded by a private donation from a member of the congregation. “It had become top priority, and I must say it’s a dramatic improvement. The first time we used the Martin system at a Sunday service everyone said how much they noticed the difference. Now guest speakers can be heard by everyone—whether they are professional or not.”

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