Leicester Cathedral is a Grade 1 listed building, and has been a site of Christian worship for around 900 years. In 2012 the remains of King Richard III were discovered under a car park across the road from the cathedral, setting off a process that culminated in the reburial of King Richard in March 2015 within a newly reordered and redesigned space within the cathedral itself.
NoiseBoys won a competitive tender process to design, supply and install a completely new audio system throughout, the old system being on its last legs at the time. The brief was to have clarity of speech throughout the cathedral, with various settings to configure the sound to accommodate the various services which take place during the week.
Of course, as with any installation into a historic building, aesthetics were of the upmost importance, and when the reordering process to create a new space for Richard III’s tomb began, every tiny detail was scrutinised by the highly respected architects involved.
With the visual aspects in mind we chose to use state of the art thin speakers that use software to ‘steer’ their sound only to where it was needed, using extremely thin cabling to do so, despite having a full sound and frequency response. This allowed us to get the speakers up higher, and more out of sight than we otherwise would have without compromising on the sound quality or clarity in any way.
Day to day control is achieved via a fixed touch screen at the control position, and a portable Windows based tablet that mirrors the touch screen, allowing the vergers to operate the system wherever they are in the building. A completely customised interface was programmed by NoiseBoys, presenting a very complex system in a very simple way to the users. They have simple buttons to choose which type of service is happening, and once a selection is made, the relevant channels are shown with simple on/off and volume controls. In the background a whole host of calculations and parameters are performed without fuss, setting each individual speaker level and delay time depending on where the service is taking place, and loading the relevant presets for all input channels.
Within the installation there is approximately 4km of cabling, but only a few metres in total are visible throughout the cathedral. Where cable is unavoidably running in view of visitors it is painted to match its surroundings, meaning that the installation as a whole has minimal impact on the fabric of the historic building.
Once the installation was completed NoiseBoys were privileged to be asked to run the sound for the week of events surrounding the reburial of Richard III. This saw us working in the cathedral over the course of two weeks, providing audio and video services to the host of events, which were broadcast on local and national radio as well as live on Channel 4.
Our work on this highly acclaimed project brought Noiseboys international attention, resulting in our prestigious RIBA award – AV Specialist for Leicester Cathedral’s Richard III Project ‘With Dignity and Honour’.
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“Leicester Cathedral has worked with Noiseboys over the past few years, both the the excitement of preparations for the reinterment of King Richard III in 2015, and in our longer-term plans for renewal of facilities across the board, in the Leicester Cathedral Revealed project. We have found them to be great at offering creative and responsive solutions to the visual and auditory challenges a historic building presents operating in a modern world. It helps that they ‘get’ our core function, as a place of spirituality, seeking to offer common ground in a diverse city and county, and to that in ways that actually work for the present generation.”
Pete Hobson. Project Director – Leicester Cathedral Revealed