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Ecclesistical & Heritage World No.99

Audio visual equipment in church buildings


This guidance is issued by the Church Buildings Council under section 55(1)(d) of the Dioceses, Mission and Pastoral Measure 2007. As it is statutory guidance, it must be considered with great care. The standards of good practice set out in the guidance should not be departed from unless the departure is justified by reasons that are spelled out clearly, logically and convincingly.

The majority of Anglican churches now use audio visual equipment as part of regular services. The technical specification for any fixed installation is crucial and will depend on your building and usage.

Seek professional advice from an independent adviser, and make early contact with your DAC Secretary to discuss any new scheme. The technical details will be unique to each church, but there are some general principles to consider when looking at new installations which impact on the fabric and appearance of the church.

21st century sound for
Places of Worship

Traditional places of worship are notorious for poor acoustics degrading the intelligibility of the spoken word. Ironically, for the hard of hearing we have largely solved the problem with the development and continuous improvement of induction loop systems.
However, for the majority, with apparently good hearing, little has been done to improve the intelligibility of sound in these highly reverberant environments.

Click here for further information

Ecclesiastical & Heritage World


With any sound system the question of what the speakers will look like and where to position them is key.

As always, engage with the DAC at an early stage to seek advice and opinion on what you have in mind.

  • Position speakers within the roof wherever possible but avoid fixings into historic timbers.
  • Avoid bulky domestic looking speakers.
  • Take advantage of slim line products if available and suitable.
  • Look carefully at positioning. Common solutions are in the roof, on piers or columns, within window reveals and above capitals.
  • Aim for invisibility, use matching colours to the background the speaker will be on.

Sound desks

These are often the only fixed piece of ‘furniture’ in a church after a major reordering and can become more dominant than is desirable or necessary.

  • Where is the right location? Will the chosen location hinder flexibility for other activities such as exhibitions, Alpha suppers or community events? Is there a gallery or tower room which could be considered?
  • How large does the console desk actually need to be? Bigger should not equate to better. Opt for a minimalist approach to design: the technological impetus is towards miniaturisation.
  • The same principles apply to sound desks as to kitchens in churches – they shouldn’t look out of place when not in use and should not be obtrusive when they are. A well designed lid or cover can greatly reduce the impact.
  • Although clear sight lines are needed, think about whether there are ways of achieving these without raising up the entire console to undue prominence.
  • Is historic fabric affected or compromised? Churches often end up utilising existing bits of furniture such as pews, box pews or other woodwork.

Think carefully about whether what you’re using to store / house equipment has any significance and whether it is compromised by the new use.

For example, it would be inappropriate to fill the remaining box pew in the church with electrical equipment.

Can you spot the speakers in these two pictures?

Easier to spot in this photo, but see how the colour of the speakers has been matched to the stonework to be as discreet as possible.



Projectors and screens and monitors

Screen projection of liturgical texts, words of hymns and songs, material related to the sermon and still images or videos for reflection is now common, supplementing or supplanting printed material, and in line with contemporary culture.

Consider the impact of this on worshippers' visual and mental focal points. The layout of most historic churches doesn’t work well with large screens and there are inevitable problems with sightlines and positioning. Ingenious solutions are often needed to get a professional looking arrangement.

  • Do experiment first if you can (providing you don’t need to make any fixings into fabric). Find out where a screen works best and make sure it works equally well when the sun is low / high in the sky.
  • Don’t allow temporary arrangements to become permanent. Speak to the DAC about your faculty application at an early stage.
  • Screens should be able to be retracted and moved out of sight when not in use.
  • A simple solution that works well in some situations is a screen on a bracket hinged from the chancel wall.
  • A more complex option is to position a screen behind the chancel arch and lower and raise it electrically. However, consider how you will access the screen for maintenance; speak with your Inspecting Architect and DAC for advice about weight and fixing; and also how it will appear when looking from east to west.
  • If you have a sufficient area of blank wall (usually on either side of the chancel arch), consider projecting directly onto the wall - a very low impact solution.
  • Sometimes additional screens are necessary to enable everyone to see a screen. Think about whether you need these all the time, or just for extraordinary services such as large funerals and special services. If it’s the latter then more temporary arrangements could be the best answer.
  • Look at both rear and front projection systems to see which is most appropriate for your circumstances and where the best place to position the projector is.
  • Monitors or plasma screens need not be fixed to the fabric. Sturdy freestanding moveable stands can be used, providing sightlines are conducive and wiring is not overly restrictive.

Guidance reproduced courtesy of Church of England www.churchcare.co.uk

You can find a selection of Sound & AV Systems experts in suitable categories in our directory including Loop Systems, Fire Safety, Electrical, Security and Acoustics by searching in your area for the type of company you need.

AV system at St Martins Liskeard

APi were asked by St Martins to design and install a comprehensive sound and visual system as part of their refurbishment. This video is a short case study with interviews from the church family on their experience of the system.

For further information visit www.apicommunications.co.uk

New AV system provides the complete solution

The re-ordering of Holy Saviour Church in Bitterne, Southampton, has seen the culmination of over four years of project work by Creative Audio-Visual Solutions (CAVS).

Within the main church, full sound, visual and streaming systems have been installed for complete versatility and long-term development potential. The audio system features eight Electrovoice EVC 8” speakers for effective coverage throughout the main nave and side aisles – supplemented by dual compact ELX-200 active subwoofers. Additional S-series speakers provide additional chancel coverage for service leaders.

Click here to read the full story.

Ebenezer Evangelical Church adopts live streaming solution

Thanks to the expertise of audio-visual integrator Vaughan Sound, Ebenezer Evangelical Church in Neath Abbey now benefits from an intuitive live streaming system – facilitating remote, online services.

Situated between junctions 43 and 44 of the M4 motorway, the church approached Vaughan Sound looking for a means of streaming their services during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Click here to read the full story.

Transformative technology for Welsh chapel earns praise in Y Tyst

Capel Gellimanwydd in Ammanford has benefitted from a complete makeover, including an array of new audio-visual equipment provided by leading integrator, Vaughan Sound.

The chapel dates back as far as 1782, making it the oldest in this former coal mining town in Carmarthenshire. Rebuilt in 1836 before extension in 1865, a vestry was later added in 1882.

Click here to read the full story.

Just to be clear: choose your speakers with care

Whether you’re a regular member of the congregation or attending a wedding, funeral or some other religious ceremony, there’s nothing more frustrating than having to struggle to understand what is being said. That was brought into sharp focus recently at St Mary the Virgin, in Whitley Bay, North Tyneside – a local church struggling with exactly that sort of sound issue. Complaints of distortion and patchy coverage were common among the congregation, leading to an urgent need for an overhaul of their sound system.

Click here to read the full story.

New AV system brings added life to services

In an era characterised by rapid technological advancements it is imperative for places of worship to adapt and evolve to meet the changing needs of their congregations. Putnoe Heights Methodist Church in Bedford has taken a commendable step in that direction by partnering with Scanaudio to install the NEC PA703W projector and Kramer VP-440X video switcher – ushering in a new era of multimedia capabilities that promise to enhance the worship experience for all.

Click here to read the full story.

Streaming service brings the church to all

In an age when technology seamlessly integrates with spirituality, St Elphege’s RC Church in Wallington, Surrey, has taken a significant step forward by partnering with Scanaudio to introduce a state-of-the-art web streaming service. The groundbreaking initiative aims to bridge the physical and digital realms of worship, allowing the congregation to connect with their faith, irrespective of physical presence.

Click here to read the full story.

Keeping it simple is the watchword for St Ann’s new system

Dating from the 1890s, St Ann’s Church in the Welsh seaside town of Rhyl now boasts thoroughly modern audio-visual systems – both in the church and the church hall – courtesy of Richard King Systems. The facilities now include upgraded sound systems, new audio loop systems, updated AV-projector systems, and comprehensive wi-fi coverage.

Click here to read the full story.

Steerable speakers prove the solution to intelligibility issues

The Church of St Mary and St Joseph, Poplar (pictured), is a Grade Two-listed building designed by celebrated architect Adrian Gilbert Scott as part of a project associated with the Festival of Britain. It was constructed between 1951 and 1954 and is a powerfully imposing structure.

Click here to read the full story.

Reclaim Audio shortlisted for Festival Supplier Awards 2024

Reclaim Audio, a pioneer in socially conscious loudspeaker manufacturing and home to the groundbreaking GreenWaves solar-powered amplifier, has been named as a finalist in the prestigious Festival Supplier Awards 2024. The company is shortlisted in the Best New Product/Service of the Year category. The Festival Supplier Awards is now in its ninth year and were developed to recognise, reward and promote best practise in the outdoor event and festival sector.

Click here to read the full story.

Large audio-visual project brings big success

Set in the heart of Oxfordshire, St Mary the Virgin - a beautiful, large Grade 1* listed parish church - was a sizable project for APi Sound & Visual. The church’s presence in the town has been steadily growing, and they now have a large regular congregation both in person and online.

Click here to read the full story.

Reclaim Audio launches brand new website

Reclaim Audio, a pioneer in socially conscious loudspeaker manufacturing, has officially launched its new website. The new site highlights the concept behind Reclaim Audio while also providing a platform for the world to meet its award-winning product range.

Click here to read the full story.

New church is blank canvas for sound system

The completion of The Lighthouse Church in Heswall, Wirral, is the culmination of a nine-year project to build the brand new church as a place of worship, service and hospitality. As the previous 1960s building was showing its age, with many things wrong that were going to be very expensive to fix, it was decided to create the building that was really needed.

Click here to read the full story.

Contacta offers hearing access for all with new RX-30 rechargeable loop listener

Assistive listening specialists, Contacta Systems, have launched a new rechargeable loop listener, offering worshippers enhanced access to sound.

The RX-30 is a complete wireless receiver, designed to help people with hearing loss who don’t use a hearing aid or cochlear implant.

Click here to read the full story.

CAVS launch new website

Creative Audio-Visual Solutions (CAVS) are proud to announce their new website is now live - providing comprehensive details on all the solutions they provide for the modern church. Covering audio, visual, streaming, IT, hire and more, it is a valuable online resource for any organisation looking to update their technology.

CAVS’s current brochure can be read or downloaded as well as viewing their latest installation case studies. Online chat is available as well as a contact form to discuss your next project - so get in touch for all your audio-visual and technology requirements.

Click here to visit their website.

21st century sound for places of worship

Univox Audio have added the unique Activo Speaker series from Fulgor Service to their product range.

Ken Hollands, director at Univox Audio said: "With speech intelligibility at the core of everything we do, we are pleased to bring the unique speaker technology from Fulgor Service to the UK to help transform the service that our pro audio installers deliver to their customers."

Click here to read the full story.

AV installers make the (up)grade at Holy Trinity

Last year, Holy Trinity Church in Knaphill, Woking, commissioned Creative Audio-Visual Solutions (CAVS) to complete a major audio, visual and performance lighting upgrade.

The audio system features an Allen & Heath SQ6 digital mixing console with iPAD control over a new, managed wi-fi or network infrastructure for main operators – and also for musicians to adjust their monitor levels independently. The mixer provides over 40 inputs, via digital stagebox expansion on the dais, with the ability for different service settings to be stored and recalled along with direct audio recording.

Click here to read the full story.

Wales’s medieval jewel now sounds as magnificent as it looks

St Asaph Cathedral dates back 1,400 years, with the current building dating from the 13th century. The cathedral now benefits from a bespoke, comprehensive premium sound system designed and commissioned by expert engineers from Richard King Systems.

Click here to read the full story.

Revamped masterpiece adds clarity to its delivery

While Rochdale’s Grade One-listed Victorian Gothic Town Hall is one of the finest municipal buildings in Britain, renowned for its unique and detailed architecture, it also functions as the ceremonial headquarters of Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council and houses local government departments, including the borough’s civil registration office.

Click here to read the full story

Order in the court!

The historic Guildhall in Tavistock, Devon, has undergone a complete refurbishment to allow visitors to have a more interactive and memorable experience when visiting the museum, council chamber and meeting place. As part of the project APi Sound & Visual were appointed to install a new AV system into the Guildhall’s courtroom.

Click here to read the full story

Magnificent self-built church accessible to all

When the congregation of High Street Church in Cambridgeshire outgrew the 19th Century chapel, members decided to rebuild a larger church in 2008, entirely by themselves. Finding the skills necessary to build the place of worship from within the congregation, The Ark is believed to be one of the largest self-built projects in the UK.

Click here to read the full story

Iconic Liverpool building gains wireless FM assistive listening

Previously known as Great George Street Congregational Church, a £6m renovation saw this iconic building in Liverpool’s China Town converted into a community arts centre in 1975. Now known as the “The Black-E”, the management of the 19th century Grade II listed building asked Contacta to install a hearing loop in the main hall in 2021.

Click here to read the full story

Spending a legacy on a sound system – what to upgrade?

Recently Blaydon Communications were contacted by a local church who had kindly been left a legacy and needed some advice. The sound system in the church had not been touched for many years so it was decided that a beneficial use for the money would be to upgrade the sound system. Conflicting online advice and sheer options for hardware had proved overwhelming, so it was time to draft in some professional help. The company's managing director Paul Dougherty takes up the story.

Click here to read the full story

ISCVE publish and launch new Guide for Training Microphone Users

The Institute of Sound, Communications and Visual Engineers (ISCVE) is delighted to announce the launch of its new publication, ‘A Guide for Training Microphone Users of Sound Systems and other Communication Systems’.

Click here to read the full story

Cathedral leads the way in streaming Mass in Norfolk

Many in the church have turned to live streaming services to maintain their communication with their congregations and others seeking worship during recent difficult times. There are many ways to achieve that; however, audio and visual specialist Darren Butler from Norfolk-based Audio Electronic Design (AED) saw, very early on in 2020, a future problem when it came to providing a permanent solution, with many lacking the technical and practical knowledge associated with operating the technology, coupled with a need to be very considerate to the building while carrying out a fixed installation.

Click here to read the full story

Looking for an audio-visual system to suit your style of worship?

APi Sound & Visual are leading designers and installers of audio-visual systems for churches, community centres and heritage buildings in the South West and beyond.

Founded in Exeter in 2003, the team at APi Sound & Visual pride themselves at making technology work for people. Specialising in the design and installation of projection, sound and streaming systems; they are also installers of hearing loop systems and CCTV.

Click here to read the full story

Do you need to spend a fortune on a microphone?

By Paul Dougherty, managing director, Blaydon Communications Ltd.

Don’t worry, this article isn’t going to get too in depth from a technical point of view, but it does steer close to it! The argument of whether or not you need to spend a fortune on a microphone is a difficult one to answer. As with all things in life, you need to buy the best you can afford, and this will yield the best outcome for you and your pocket in the long run. Saying that, sometimes it is worth saving a little longer and spending a little more than you’d planned for too.

Click here to read the full story

Cadfael’s abbey has a ‘fine’ new sound system

Shrewsbury Abbey has a fascinating history dating back almost 1,000 years. It was founded in 1083 by Roger de Montgomery, one of William the Conqueror's principal counsellors. In the 20th century the Ellis Peters character Brother Cadfael was portrayed as a Benedictine monk and herbalist at Shrewsbury Abbey.

Click here to read the full story

Rochdale's Victorian Town Hall benefits from new sound system

Rochdale Town Hall is a Victorian-era municipal building in. Completed in 1871, the Grade-1 listed Gothic Victorian Town Hall is widely regarded as one of the finest municipal buildings in Britain, renowned for its unique and detailed architecture.

Click here to read the full story.

Festive phone call takes church on the route to virtual services

In December last year, Blaydon Communications got a phone call they were not expecting. A member of the PCC at St Bede’s Church in South Tyneside called and asked if they could urgently upgrade the church’s sound system in anticipation of the festive events that were to be held in the church. The team at Blaydon were a little surprised as their installation work had been a bit thin on the ground during lockdown and they had been focussing a lot of effort on their online presence and having virtual meetings. The chance to get out was gratefully received as they were totally ‘Zoomed out’ at that point!

Click here to read the full story.

Victorian church embraces modern technology

The year is 1873, in the middle of Queen Victoria’s reign. William Gladstone is the Prime Minister of the day and Richard Benyon MP, then owner of Cranham Hall near Upminster in Essex, makes a generous offer to pay for the parish church to be rebuilt. The original parish church of All Saints’, built in the early 14th century, has fallen into a state of disrepair.

Click here to read the full story

Church video system for Church of the Good Shepherd, Surrey

Newtech Southern was asked to submit a proposal for replacing the church video and audio system at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Surrey. After several meetings to ensure that the new system design was adequate to meet the needs of the church Newtech was awarded the contract to design, install and commission a new audio visual system.

Click here to read the full story

New mixer adds to upgraded Zooming capacity

An upgrade to the sound reinforcement system at First Church Christ Scientist, London, has recently been completed by Redhill-based Scanaudio. The upgrade provides a fully-interactive Zoom meeting experience for those members unable to attend church.

Click here to read the full story

Zoom into 2021 with ease – and MW mixers from KORG

Last year saw great changes in the way people communicate and interact. The speed at which the changes emerged is unprecedented and has transformed everyday life for many. Before April 2020, the meaning of the onomatopoeic word ‘Zoom’ meant nothing more than getting a move on; but since then, when anyone mentions ‘Zooming’ it’s most often associated with online video communication.

Click here to read the full story

Latest installation ensures everyone can participate – whether in church or not

A recent commission saw Creative Audio-Visual Solutions (CAVS) install a new AV system into Holy Trinity Church at Frogmore in St Albans. The new installation not only ensures the highest quality audio-visual solution for the church, but also provides a flexible and expandable visual streaming and recording system, to ensure those not able to meet at the church can continue to participate actively in services.

Click here to read the full story

St Gwrst’s Church, Llanrwst, North Wales gets specialist audio system

Originally built in 1170, St Grwst’s, a Grade 1- listed building, is reported to be the only church dedicated to the Saint. After being partially destroyed during Owain Glyndwr’s uprising in the 1400s it was fully demolished during the War of the Roses in 1468. The building that stands today was constructed in 1470, with further alterations and additions made over the following centuries.

Click here to read the full story.

You don’t have to be tech savvy to use the latest in AV

Broadmead Baptist Church in Bristol is built on the foundations of one of the country’s earliest Baptist churches. Now, the completion of a dynamic audio-visual installation by Creative Audio-Visual Solutions has led to the church being fully equipped for all the requirements and challenges of worship in the 21st century.

Click here to read the full story.

Charterhouse Memorial Chapel gets major upgrade to sound system

Scanaudio have carried out a major upgrade to the sound reinforcement and induction systems in the Memorial Chapel at Charterhouse during the Easter Holiday. The chapel was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott and consecrated in June 1927. It is the largest war memorial in England and dedicated to the Carthusians who gave their lives in the First and Second World Wars.

Click here to read the full story.

Do you really need a new sound system?

Our first contact from the team at Blyth Central Methodist Church was a phone call that we’ve had many times before explained Paul Dougherty of Blaydon Communications Ltd 'Our sound system isn’t working, it’s all crackly and we just need a new one'.

Click here to read the full story.

Churches embracing new technology

The needs of a church sound system are quite simple in so much as they want intelligible audio to reach all the congregation including those with hearing impairments. Although this requirement has probably been the same for many years there is now a plethora equipment that can be used and this is when the world of sound can become a mine field.

Click here to read the full story.

St Bart’s goes digital

The parish church of St Bartholomew in Horley, a parish covering Horley town and Gatwick Airport, is a Grade One-listed building, mainly of 14th century origin, although a church has been on the site since the middle of the 12th century.

Click here to read the full story.

Scanaudio provide induction loop at Temple Farm

Temple Farm is a new 84-acre UK headquarters for the International Bible Students Association (IBSA) located near Chelmsford, Essex. The site has up to 1,000 volunteer workers per day alongside a small number of outside sub-contractors and is professionally managed and run by the organisation.

Click here to read the full story.

Ealing Green Church gets new AV system as part of refurbishment programme

Newtech Southern was awarded the contract to design and install a new audio visual system for Ealing Green Church, West London. The church was to undergo a complete refurbishment and as part of these works a new high quality sound and video system was required.

Click here to read the full story.

Only the best will do for Roedean School theatre sound upgrade

The world-renowned independent Roedean School in Sussex provides the best facilities for it’s pupils, so it's no surprise then that when upgrading their theatre sound system they chose the best. Traction Sound loud speakers were used throughout the auditorium mixed from Allen & Heath digital desk. Brighton Sound System carried out the theatre sound installation working in partnership with AC-ET who supplied the equipment.

Click here to read the full story.

A guide to church av systems by MPB Sound and Light

The purpose of this article is to help churches through the process of exploring the options for church av systems, and drawing up a specification to send out for quotations.

We have a dedicated article about choosing the right wireless microphones for you and we also have two free online courses for anyone new to sound systems written with churches in mind

Click here to read the full story. Visit the MPB website here.

SSV helps revitalise a South London gem

Sound Space Vision is delighted that its latest project, Fairfield Halls, opened in mid-September after a three-year restoration and renovation led by MICA Architects.

After completing a feasibility study for the council-owned building in 2011, Sound Space Vision was appointed in 2016 and charged with completely replacing the performance lighting, sound, and communications infrastructure for all of the Halls’ performance spaces – the Phoenix Concert Hall, the Ashcroft Playhouse, the Arnhem Foyer, and The Rec and Talawa studios.

Click here to read the full story.

Sound know-how helps clarify the message

Wootton New Life Church is a growing and lively Methodist church at the heart of the village of Wootton in Bedfordshire.

For many years the traditional rectangular church building had a suspended ceiling, which had begun to look tired; so the church decided to open up the whole space and redecorate.

Specialist sound and acoustics company APi Communications were contacted to help resolve the problem.

Click here to read the full story.

Guildford Cathedral gets complete audio overhaul

One recent challenge for DM Music Ltd was undertaking a complete overhaul of the audio system at Guildford Cathedral. This has been part of the Cathedral’s repair work with significant proportion of funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Click here to read the full story.

Now the message sounds out clear in the busy marketplace

St Mary’s in the Marketplace, the Parish Church of Stockport, has a history running back to the 12th century and still includes some parts of the original church, although most of the Grade One-listed building was erected in the early 19th century. The church occupies pride of place overlooking the historic market area of Stockport and has been at the centre of the local community in the town for hundreds of years.Click here to read the full story.

Live Mass - at home!

Belltron are pleased to introduce the new Belltron BST-3000, a useful tool for listening to live Mass at home.

The company has developed its own ISAC (Internet Speech Audio Codec) system offering parishioners who are unable to attend the celebrations the opportunity to listen to all liturgies live or deferred. The device is a useful tool for continuing to feel part of one's own community and is particularly simple to manage for the parish priest.

Click here to read the full story.

The complete discreet AV solution

Creative Audio-Visual Solutions (CAVS) are a dedicated church audio and visual supplier working throughout the UK.

CAVS were recently commissioned to install a new audio and visual system into the Parish Church of St James in Trowbridge.

Click here to read the full story.

Moveable projection screens for churches

This projection screen at was installed at St Mark’s Church in Surbiton by Paul Furness of The Audio Visual Co Ltd. When not in use it rolls up and swings out of the way. Paul has many years experience in this field and serves on the Southwark DAC as a specialist adviser on audio visual and acoustic matters.

Click here for further information.