Millions across the world tuned in to the BBC's live coverage of Elizabeth, the Queen Mother's funeral on Tuesday 9 April, while in London itself over a million people turned out to pay their respects. Live audio coverage of the funeral service along the length of the route from Westminster Abbey to the end of The Mall was provided by Dobson Sound, under contract to Westminster Sound, who have been responsible for audio relay at events such as the Remembrance Day Parades and the funeral of Princess Diana.

Westminster Sound has been involved in the planning and design of the event, codenamed ‘Tay Bridge’, for over two years. According to Paul Dobson, who was responsible for much of the design, the system itself was reasonably straightforward. Nevertheless, it involved some 96 d&b loudspeakers along the route, and literally miles of cable, none of which could be run at ground level for health and safety reasons. "As usual, we had to resort to natural rigging opportunities like trees to keep things off the ground, as well as utilising lamp posts in The Mall and across the roofs of ministry buildings from Parliament Square to Horseguards Parade," said Dobson.

The system was split into four sections: Parliament Square, closest to the Abbey, which served as the master control point picking up the feed from the BBC scanner unit; Whitehall, with a control position in a room in the Foreign and Commonwealth office; Horseguards Parade, which had a control position for the Parade and Horseguards Road; and finally Marlborough Gate, where a mobile control position controlled the system all the way down the Mall.

The signal was distributed from the Abbey into each control position, where XTA splitters were used to split out the signal to each of the local control positions and then line drive to the next position. A main and back-up signal were sent to each control position. Each position had localised EQ, delay and mix facilities with the ability to link in a microphone for Health and Safety announcements.

Outside the Abbey, a number of d&b C6 cabinets hung in trees, although in Parliament Square Westminster Sound were able to deploy a crane from which was flown a cluster of d&b C4s and C7s. "We had to give careful consideration to the placement of the crane to cope with the reflections off both the Abbey and the Treasury and to make sure that we achieved maximum coverage with minimum audio spillage back into the Abbey," explained Dobson. Whitehall featured the "tried and tested" system of C6s and E9s hanging off government buildings. "We do this every year with Westminster Sound for Remembrance Day, so we're all very familiar with the routine," said Dobson. "For Horseguards Parade we had a cluster of C4 tops and subs ground-stacked on a 12ft tower which gave us coverage right across the parade ground, and then more C7s in trees to cover Horseguards Road. However, in the Mall, The Royal Parks gave us permission to use the lamp posts, so Vertigo Rigging put up 2m lengths of scaff to hang d&b C6s, which gave us good, even coverage across the Mall, and d&b Max cabinets which covered the distance from lamp post to lamp post."

Main control came from a 24-channel Midas Heritage 1000 console based in a mobile control position in Little Sanctuary. EQ and delay was courtesy of BSS and each control position had a pair of Genelec powered monitors.

Paul summed up by saying that the whole thing ran smoothly from start to finish. "There were no hiccups at all on the day. In reality, our biggest problem was a slightly shorter load-in time than we would have liked because Easter got in the way, but other than that it was very straightforward. The d&b amplifiers coped amazingly well with the enormous cable runs, everything worked exactly as was planned, and the most helpful thing of all was that it didn't rain!"

(Lee Baldock)

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