Coventry Cathedral has been a place of Christian worship for over 1,000 years
UK - The famous gothic St. Michael's Cathedral (better known as Coventry Cathedral), reduced to a ruined shell after its bombing during the Second World War, and subsequently rebuilt in a celebration of 20th century architecture, has been a place of Christian worship for over 1,000 years.

However, it had long found that the quality of its audio fell short of its majestic interior. Recently RaceTech's head of audio engineering, Robin Dibble, returned 20 years after implementing a revolutionary analogue solution, known as the Coventry Reciprocating Delay and devised by his acoustician father, Ken Dibble. This time it was to lead the cathedral into the digital age via BSS Soundweb London signal distribution architecture, which will future-proof it for years to come.

Notes Dibble Jr, "Coventry Cathedral is a vast open space with huge air volume, many hard sonically reflective surfaces and an original central cluster speaker system situated high in the roof. These combine to produce a room acoustic with an exceptionally long reverberation time - eight seconds below 250Hz.

"But with our original solution, no matter what area of the cathedral a microphone was plugged into, the system was inherently time aligned in both directions, both up and down the length of the building," remembers Robin Dibble. "We used a huge rack of hand-wired summing amps, single delays and modular automatic microphone mixers."

Now, two decades later, the same solution is achievable far more simply with modern digital electronics from BSS Soundweb, he says. "This provides greater reliability, lower energy consumption and lower running costs."

BSS Audio's proprietary DSP platform has been Robin Dibble's 'go-to' solution for most of his installation projects since joining RaceTech 15-plus years ago.

This time he has specified a Soundweb BLU-160, which offers configurable I/O and signal processing plus a high bandwidth - with proprietary BLU-Link, BSS Audio's Digital Audio fault-tolerant bus. This 256-channel solution can use standard, inexpensive Cat6 cabling (linking BLU-Link compatible devices over a distance of 100 metres).

"Using Soundweb has made everything so much easier," Robin Dibble reports. "What was previously a huge issue, with so many channels requiring EQ and delay, is now a breeze - and there is so much processing power that just one BLU-160 is operating at only 52% capacity. And since the entire solution - auto mic mixing, time alignment, multi-delay zones - is built into Soundweb it provides a completely different way of optimising the sound."

(Jim Evans)

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