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.

Following a site survey carried out by Contacta engineers, it became clear that a hearing loop wouldn’t give visitors with hearing loss the best listening experience.  The space has been divided into two floors using metal sub frames, creating passages along the walls of the main hall.  This metal content would heavily distort a loop’s performance.

A ceiling height of over 6 meters ruled out installation of the loop cable at height and five large internal doorways, which give access into the main hall, ruled out a continuous route for hearing loop cable at floor level. Our team had no permission to cut grooves for the loop cable in the wooden floor planks either. Due to these constraints, Contacta’s design team specified an RF (radio frequency) system and presented their recommended solution to the site management.

RF technology is not susceptible to interference from metal content and does not require a cable to be fitted in the floor or ceiling.

The installation of a Contacta RF system was completed in February 2022, complete with 12 portable and rechargeable receivers.

An RF-TXRM transmitter was fixed into the existing audio rack, with an audio feed taken from the existing audio mixer and into the transmitter.The twelve RF-RX1 Receivers are linked with the broadcasted frequency of the RF-TXRM channel and connected to a variety of listening devices.

These include RF-NL1 neckloops and RF-HP1 headphones. The inductive neck loops can be used by visitors with T Coil hearing instruments whilst the headphones can be used by non-hearing aid wearers.

An RF-DC20 charging case provides housing and a recharging point for all transmitters when not in use.

Tim Mills, Technical Support Manager at Contacta said: “prior to carrying out a site survey it was difficult to ascertain whether an installation of a loop system would be possible. The large dimensions of the main hall and its high ceiling meant we had to look at a floor level phased array layout. When we learned it was not possible to install the loop cable in the floor we opted for another technology”.



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