The PA used for the Pope’s recent mass in
Birmingham is visible, but what you don’t seeis
Ampetronic’s induction loop system for the
hard-of-hearing, which was buried underground.
United Kingdom (December 20, 2010)–When Pope Benedict XVI held an open air Mass at Birmingham’s Cofton Park, the event was attended by 52,000 people. This required an extensive sound system and the largest Ampetronic temporary induction loop systemever, to accommodate the hard of hearing.
The design and installation of the system was a major logistical challenge. Audio contractor Wigwam Acoustics provided equipment and a crew of 28. Wigwam’s Nigel Comrie and Rob Priddle also worked with Ampetronic system design engineer James Bottrill to design, install and commission three separate induction loop systems, used to cover two wheelchair platforms and part of the main arena. The wheelchair platforms provided space for 850 wheelchairs, while the main arena system covered an area equivalent to nearly two soccer fields to accommodate up to 10,000 members of the main congregation.
The system used in the main arena area involved the installation of almost five kilometres of burial grade cable, by the ingenious use of a quad bike and a custom built plough arrangement.
The use of large amounts of steel scaffolding in the construction of the wheelchair platforms, dictated the use of Phased Array systems to compensate for metal-related signal losses. A total of 13 ILD1000G Induction Loop Drivers and four SP5 Phase Shift units. The design of the main arena system required nine ILD1000G Induction Loop Drivers as part of a large scale Phased Array system.
“It was an interesting and unique challenge,” says Bottrill. “We had to come up with a solution that would work, but which could also be installed within a tight timescale, the client being under pressure to provide access for the hard of hearing whilst not compromising the rest of the build. Installation had to fit in with the other contractors on site and the construction of the facilities for the Mass were necessarily timetabled not to take up large areas of one of Birmingham’s major green spaces for longer than was necessary.”
Further challenges also faced James, Nigel and Rob, as the site was on a comparatively steep slope, making installation of the induction loop cabling more difficult. In addition, due to the shear size of the venue, the induction loop audio needed to be delayed in time with the public address system, to ensure that the people using the loops were in precisely the same ‘time frame’ as everybody else.
“This was the biggest induction loop system we’ve ever done,” says Bottrill. “We were very pleased that Wigwam asked us to get involved and that we were able to contribute to the enjoyment of this unique event for so many people.”