Case Study

Amplifying outdoor sound for St Mary’s

Enhancing outdoor sound

Based in Oxfordshire, St Mary’s Primary School has 250 pupils aged between 4 and 11 with outdoor green spaces that are made use of on a daily basis. In order to enhance the space, the school wanted to provide music during break times and have a permanent fixture to facilitate school mass, a school radio station and various other educational uses.

After carrying out some substantial research and contacting numerous suppliers, St. Mary’s school chose Flipside to head up the project as they were the quickest to respond to the enquiry, and provided the easiest system to use, featuring great products and a totally honest quote.

James Cooper, Managing Director at Flipside recalls: “We were given a brief to deliver outside sound to this Oxfordshire school so that music could be played for the pupils at playtime, announcements could be made easily and as a Catholic school, that the speakers could be used for frequent ceremonial events throughout the school year from the outdoor altar.”

Ease of use

For the outdoor playground system, Flipside specified Apart MASK4 100v line speakers as they have a great IP rating (weatherproof), sound quality and price. With four playgrounds, fifteen of theses units were spread across the school and installed on brick walls in protective cages. Each playground was given a control panel that could select between a couple of inputs, the school radio, and turn the feed from the field system on and off.

According to the Flipside team, the second part was more complex and specifically tailored for the requirements of the school to be able to hold ceremonial events from the outdoor altar. Rather than run various analogue signal cable for inputs from the altar all the way back to the main building where the amp rack was housed, Flipside opted for a fully wireless system.

Cooper adds: “Audio Technica System, 3000 wireless, offers by far the best quality vs price of any brand on the market, including industry leaders like Shure and Sennheiser. Four channels were comprised of two handheld mics, one headset mic and a belt pack with guitar & keyboard input cable meaning the priest and musicians could all run wirelessly.

“Getting reception coverage over the whole area was guaranteed with some clever placement of a pair of wideband dipole antennas pointing from the main building towards the field. When tested, we had rock-solid coverage over the entire field without any issues whatsoever, perfect for the requirements of the school.”

A full-proof solution

Finally for the field, in order to stand up to the worst of weather, Flipside opted for One Systems speakers, to deliver the best possible audio. A pair of their 8” 108HTH loudspeakers mounted on tall poles set in concrete flood the whole field with quality audio. The amount of volume is also surprising, and easily capable of cutting over the top of even the noisiest kids!

With an aim of having an intuitive system that required no training, St. Mary’s now has one of the best outdoor sound systems in Oxfordshire, enjoyed by both pupils and staff. Giancarlo Refalo, of St Mary’s said: “The end product is pretty much exactly what we were looking for. It is future-proof, user-friendly and hopefully will require no tweaking with in the future. It’s been in place for a month already and is being used regularly. Students are doing choreographed dances in the playground, the summer fete was a huge success, everything worked perfectly. The fact that I’ve hardly spoken to Flipside since the installation is a good sign!”


Kit List

  • 15 x Apart Audio MASK4CT outdoor rated speaker
  • 2 x One System 108 HTH marine grade outdoor speakers
  • 4 x Audio Technica System 3000 wireless microphones
  • 1 x Audio Technica A49/DA49 long-range antennas
  • 1 x Audio Technica PRO49Q paging microphone
  • 1 x Yamaha MTX3 matrix with EXI8 input expander
  • 2 x Yamaha XMV4140 amplifiers
  • 5 x Yamaha DCP1V4S control panels