The Heath Methodist Church, Runcorn, Cheshire

Completed in 1970 the building is bold statement of modern architecture. However, while the interior of the main worship hall is visually impressive, the environment for speech intelligibility is acoustically very challenging.

Previous attempts to improve communication of the service by the installation of a sound reinforcement system provided only very limited improvement. In fact, it could be fair to say that, these measures had just aggravated the acoustic situation.

In 2012 the property committee, in responding to increasing concerns from the congregation, sought expert opinion on how best to solve the problem of poor intelligibility of speech.

Three years prior to this, Richard King Systems (RKS) had been engaged to upgrade the stage lighting and audio systems in the adjoining meeting hall. On the basis of this, the property committee invited RKS to look at the sound issues in the main worship area of the church.

A process of problem evaluation, goal setting and consultation was formulated and agreed. With their practical audio and acoustic expertise RKS advised on how best to facilitate the necessary improvements.

To enable each member of the congregation to have the opportunity to actually hear, first hand, the level of improvements achievable, trial sound systems were installed.

With the benefit of the congregation’s votes the property committee was confidently able to give the go ahead.

The completed scheme has since been widely praised for both the audible improvements and the aesthetic appearance.