From Ancient To Modern

Oct 11, 2010

In buildings which range from the ancient to the very modern, the natural acoustics in places of worship are no longer regarded as high quality enough for the majority of congregations. In addition, with an ever-increasing percentage of those congregations being elderly, facilities for the those with a hearing impairment are increasingly important.

Because of the huge variety in age and construction of churches, the installation of modern induction loop technology is a continuingly perse challenge for both Ampetronic and installation company Scanaudio. But together they have specialised in overcoming such challenges, exemplified by three very different Ampetronic installations which Scanaudio has recently undertaken.

With its original 12th century building nowadays forming an adjacent aisle to a bigger 1906 nave, the Grade 2 listed Holy Trinity Church in the Southchurch district of Southend-on-Sea, Essex, has seen a brand new Ampetronic ILD500 and perimeter loop system installed to replace an infra-red system.

Ironically, the infra-red system had been installed several years ago to replace an earlier induction loop. But experience at Holy Trinity proved that an induction loop provides superior coverage and audio quality, and so Scanaudio was contracted to install the new Ampetronic system.

One of the challenges of the installation was that the loop had to cover the whole main body of the church, which meant two very different approaches in the different ‘eras’ of the building. With it being listed, extreme care also had to be taken to minimise visual intrusion.

“In most church installs, it is a fundamental requirement for the induction loop to cover as much of the main area as possible,” says Scanaudio’s Dee Couchman. “There will be members of the congregation who have been attending for years and they will all have a favourite place to sit. So it is important that nobody is accidentally excluded from the loop’s coverage.”

The floor in the 12th century part of the church is covered with thick carpet, so here the loop comprised copper tape and was laid beneath the carpet. However, the more modern part features a stone flagged floor, so here the 1.5mm tri-rated switch gear cable was used, which was either glued to the stone work at the interface of the floor and wall, or stapled discreetly onto the top edge of a wooden skirting board.

A more modern building which has recently seen an Ampetronic installation is the church of Christ the King in Salfords, Surrey. Here the replacement of a 1980s induction loop system was carried out and, being a late 1950s building, there weren’t the strict guidelines of a listed building with placement of the loop.

“We installed an ILD300 amplifier and perimeter loop, which was very straightforward,” says Dee. “The building had a wooden skirting board all round the main part of the church, so we were able to attach the loop to it and install the equipment very quickly.”

Coming right up to date, the new Methodist church in Wimbledon, London, is a brand new structure that has replaced the Church’s previous, century-old home on the same site.

Because it was a new construction, the technical infrastructure could be ‘designed in’ to the building. The church took the opportunity to contact Scanaudio to install a sophisticated audio/visual system, with an Ampetronic ILD500-powered induction loop as an integral part of the system.

“A new-build project is the easiest type of installation for making the induction loop completely invisible, as you can incorporate it into the fabric of the building before the finishing touches such as flooring are laid,” says Dee.

The loop at Wimbledon Methodist Church takes its feed from the church’s main audio system and is effectively a figure of eight, as the hall can be pided into two by means of a screen

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