St George’s Chapel Windsor Castle

ProjectSt George's Chapel Windsor CastleLocationWindsor, UKInstallerWhitwam AVISubmitted byPro Audio Marketing

St George’s Chapel at Windsor ranks amongst the UK’s most treasured examples of British heritage, therefore any modern AV technology solution had to blend imperceptibly into the fabric of the seven-centuries-old Gothic building.

In addition, the new loudspeaker system had to overcome the challenges of a highly reverberant environment and comply with the requirement for very low visual impact.

The key to success at St George’s Chapel is the way that the technology all fits together so seamlessly to overcome the acoustic and visual challenges they had in the past, and the simplicity with which it can be operated given the vast range of different events that routinely happen in the chapel or just in parts of it. The staff don’t have to worry or even think about the technology, it all just works neatly in the background.

Whitwam AVI has installed a totally modern and sympathetically styled audio-visual system that has transformed the way that words and music are experienced throughout the building, blending imperceptibly with the magnificent and historically rich setting. The loudspeaker system from Italian manufacturer K-array focuses on providing superior vocal intelligibility in a challenging acoustic environment.

Vyper half-metre long line arrays form the nucleus of the widely distributed loudspeaker system for the nave, with low-frequency reinforcement from Rumble-KU44 subwoofers hidden behind grilles in the floor. Each of the pillars lining the nave carries Vyper-KV52 line arrays; single enclosures on the outsides facing into the side aisles, and double-stacked enclosures directed at the seating areas to give additional throw towards the middle of the building.

Increasing the speaker count not only reduces the average audio paths to the congregation but also fills in the previous gaps between the pillars and heightens intelligibility. Floor-mounted Kobra-KK52 line arrays are placed for additional sound reinforcement in the Bray and Rutland chantry chapels and at the left and right of the high altar at the east end of the quire.

All the K-array speakers were colour-matched to a RAL swatch chosen by the Surveyor of the Fabric, who picked the colour he thought best suited the stonework and the average hue of the building. They are mounted on custom brackets fabricated with keyhole mounting slots to fit neatly within the cleft of the pillar so that cables could run up invisibly behind them, and allow the loudspeakers to be quickly and easily removed for servicing or replacement.

St George’s Chapel is an acoustically challenging environment, a voluminous space with vaulted ceilings and highly reflective surfaces resulting in a typical RT60 of three or four seconds. The audio design emphasised the placement of sources with focused directivity relatively close to the listener to increase direct sound by reducing path lengths and minimising reflections. Narrow vertical dispersion and wide horizontal dispersion ensured that sound was directed precisely where it is needed.

Whitwam AVI was tasked with providing a loudspeaker system solution that was powerful, sonically accurate, and visually unobtrusive. High-power professional line array loudspeakers from K-array were chosen, RAL colour matched at the factory to blend in imperceptibly with the stonework.

No hardware could be fixed directly to the fabric of the Grade I listed building, so custom mounting brackets had to be fabricated to locate the loudspeakers. Subwoofers were installed behind grilles at floor level so as to be invisible.