Gloucester Cathedral in Gloucester, UK, which dates to the year 1089 with centuries of history and craftsmanship on display in addition to serving as a filming location for several scenes in the “Harry Potter” series of movies, recently underwent an audio upgrade utilizing Audinate Dante networking as the backbone.
Maintaining a Grade One-listed building is challenging, and upgrades to on-site technology must be carefully considered and planned to prevent damage. When the cathedral began a restoration project on the Lady Chapel — the newest section of the church, built in the 15th century — the flooring was removed for restoration, which presented the opportunity to install a new chapel sound system by running cabling under the floors.
Audiovisual system integrator DM Music Ltd., which specializes in churches and protected historical buildings, was called in for the project. “When they were taking the floor up, we had a chance to put in a new PA system, and as is my habit on all large buildings with multiple areas, I put in a Dante-enabled equipment kit, including a Yamaha MTX5D mixer,” explains Graham Bennewith, installation director at DM Music. “Whenever we’re working on a larger or a multi-area building, I use a Dante network because it allows for excellent flexibility. Even with the floor up, we still had very limited options for running cables, so we got the Dante equipment in place then ran a network cable run through to the main nave.”
Bennewith says the Dante network allowed the team to more easily install the new Lady Chapel system. While the system can run independently, the network also enables the chapel to connect with other areas of the cathedral, including the main nave. Lady Chapel, which can accommodate about 250 people, is often used as an overflow room for large events in the main nave, which holds about 2,500.
Meanwhile, the main nave was also recently upgraded with an Allen & Heath AHM-64 mixer with a Dante card. The system is controlled by a Crestron touch screen and a custom iPad app using Crestron for mobile/wireless connectivity.
“Over time, as Gloucester Cathedral continues to upgrade its systems, each area will be Dante enabled,” Bennewith says. “My team at DM Music is adding some microphones now, all fed into a Dante preamp interface. Dante gives us a lot of flexibility so these microphones can move around, and all they need is a network connection. By using PoE, users can take these microphones wherever they’d like. The main thing for my team is that, out of the box, Dante is clean, efficient, and easy to use. Dante just works.”
He adds that while the Cathedral itself is historic, there are benefits for all involved by choosing modern technology: “In the old analog days, we would need multiple patch bays and patch lines all around buildings and have multiple processors and matrix systems, and the systems were complex and not at all user friendly. Because of Dante, the church loves their new systems, and they have had absolutely no issues.”