900-year-old Cathedral Turns to the ‘Magic’ of a Dante Audio Network

Gloucester Cathedral is an extraordinary building with many historic treasures. The Cathedral, which dates to the year 1089, has centuries of history and craftsmanship on display – including important architectural features that are considered some of the best in Europe. The Cathedral is also a favourite of Harry Potter fans as the cloisters served as the location for various Hogwarts scenes in the films.

Maintaining a Grade One listed building is challenging, and upgrades to on-site technology must be carefully considered and planned to prevent damage. When the Cathedral decided to upgrade its audio capabilities, it turned to the flexibility, scalability, and low-impact installation benefits synonymous with Audinate’s Dante.

The Dante platform is a complete AV-over-IP solution that allows audio, video and control data to be transported over standard 1GB ethernet networks. Supported in more than 3,000 Dante-enabled products from more than 500 manufacturers, Dante replaces point-to-point analog and digital connections with software-based routing, effortlessly sending AV channels anywhere on the network with perfect digital fidelity.

When the Cathedral began a restoration project on the magnificent Lady Chapel – the newest section of the church, built in the 15th century – the flooring was removed for restoration which presented the opportunity to install a new chapel sound system by running cabling under the floors.

Audiovisual system integrator DM Music was called in for the project.

“When they were taking the floor up, we had a chance to put in a new PA system, and as is my habit on all large buildings with multiple areas, I put in a Dante-enabled equipment kit, including a Yamaha MTX5D mixer,” comments Graham Bennewith, Installation Director, DM Music Ltd. “Whenever we’re working on a larger or a multi-area building, I use a Dante network because it allows for excellent flexibility. Even with the floor up, we still had very limited options for running cables; so, we got the Dante equipment in place then ran a network cable run through to the main nave.”

Bennewith says the Dante network allowed the team to easily install the new Lady Chapel system. While the system can run independently, the network also enables the chapel to connect with other areas of the cathedral, including the main nave. Lady Chapel, which can accommodate about 250 people, is often used as an overflow room for large events in the main nave, which holds about 2,500. The main nave was recently upgraded with an Allen & Heath AHM-64 mixer with a Dante card. The system is controlled by a Crestron touch screen and a custom iPad app using Crestron for mobile/wireless connectivity.

“Over time, as Gloucester Cathedral continues to upgrade its systems, each area will be Dante enabled,” Bennewith says. “My team at DM Music is adding some microphones now, all fed into a Dante preamp interface. Dante gives us a lot of flexibility so these microphones can move around, and all they need is a network connection. By using PoE, users can take these microphones  wherever they’d like. The main thing for my team is that, out of the box, Dante is clean, efficient, and easy to use. Dante just works.”

Bennewith said that while the Cathedral itself is historic there are major benefits for all involved by choosing the cutting-edge when it comes to technology.

“In the old analog days, we would need multiple patch bays and patch lines all around buildings and have multiple processors and matrix systems, and the systems were complex and not at all user friendly,” concludes Bennewith. “Because of Dante, the church loves their new systems, and they have had absolutely no issues.”

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