When it comes to installing an audio-visual system into a building that is nationally significant for being one of the first combined police stations and courtrooms in the country, it is fair to say there is a lot to think about.
Tavistock Guildhall and Court Room is set in the heart of Devon and is now a popular visitor attraction for people who want to get a sense of what it would have been like all those years ago, walking up from the holding cells into the courtroom. As well as inviting visitors, it is still being used as a functioning council building, and it was this use that meant an audio-visual system was required.
APi Sound and Visual were asked to supply and install a full audio, projection and streaming system, bringing the space into the 21st Century, but crucially without impacting the impressive aesthetics of the well-kept interior of the building.
It was clear straight away that one of the most challenging aspects of the installation would be the projection screen, as it needed to be as unobtrusive as possible when not in use. Even once it has been decided that a winch screen would be deployed to allow the screen to be raised out of the way, the curved design of the ceiling in the courtroom made fixing this without leaving brackets exposed very tricky, and there was a large crest which the screen would need to avoid.
Next on the list of challenges to overcome was the cabling that would be required to run between the main control system in the rack cabinet to the equipment spread throughout the room. Two pairs of loudspeakers, a projector, a professional PTZ (pan, tilt, zoom) camera and a hearing loop system would all require cabling, but these would need to be hidden from sight as much as possible.
Lastly, the system would need to be easy to operate, as often it would be a town council member or site volunteer setting up for an event, so a simple control interface would need to be designed, to avoid a complicated on/off procedure before and after each use.
Using our previous experience working with heritage buildings, APi’s skilled engineers fabricated unique brackets and pelmets to encase them, meaning the screen winch mechanism was completely hidden from view and enclosed by something that looked like part of the room’s original design.
The projection system was completed by a high-powered laser projector, which gives almost instant on-time. It is capable of Full HD quality image reproduction, which allows the system’s users to show high-quality content from the DVD player, a laptop, or even the streaming system with this maximised on the projection screen. The option to screen share wirelessly was also included, for times when tablets or other devices may wish to present without being tied to a physical connection point.
The live streaming system was fed by a single PTZ camera, which was connected to a streaming PC in the equipment rack, along with the inputs from the two laptop points and a DVD player installed in the room for ad-hoc connections. This camera could be simply controlled using the customised control interface installed and programmed by our engineers, allowing manual control of the camera, or quick recall of pre-saved positions.
This central control interface also gives simple control of the audio system which consisted of two pairs of ultra-slim line array loudspeakers and a complimentary subwoofer to give a clear, well-rounded sound to both speech and music playback. A total of 12 gooseneck-style wireless microphones were installed which acted in a conference setup during town council meetings, with the ability to set priority on one or more of the microphones if required for the chair of the meeting.
The verdict came back as overwhelmingly positive on completion of the project, with the new technology enhancing the use of the space for meetings and other events by the town council. The equipment is locked up safely in the rack cabinet which is tucked neatly into an unused area of the building but is easily accessible for users who require interaction with the control interface.
Visitors enjoying the history and atmosphere of the courtroom do not have their experience limited by the audio-visual equipment due to the careful selection of products which have a perfect balance between aesthetics and performance, and the expert installation carried out by APi’s team of engineers.