Big Ben, the famous timepiece tower of London, won’t let loose its famous hourly “Bong!” sound for a while — but Martin Audio wants to help, using 21st Century technology.
The old bells are on hiatus for four years while the clock tower undergoes essential repairs, leaving London without any “Bongs” for the longest period in the entire 157-year history of the iconic landmark. Some UK residents are disappointed by the silencing, with the UK’s prime minister, Theresa May, also voicing her concern.
Some wistful locals have asked the government to install loudspeakers to continue the tradition. In that vein, Martin Audio has proposed such a solution to The Speaker of the House of Commons, Rt Hon John Bercow MP.
In a letter to Bercow, Martin Audio’s managing director, Dom Harter, notes:
Dear Mr Speaker,
My name is Dominic Harter and I am the Managing Director of a UK loudspeaker manufacturer and international exporter – Martin Audio.
We have been listening to the ongoing debate around the silencing of Big Ben with some interest, and believe we have an innovative solution that can enable the bell sounds to emanate external to Big Ben while at the same time offering “rear rejection” so as to provide protection for the workers during refurbishments.
Martin Audio manufactures professional loudspeakers for the entertainment industry. This includes our premium large format MLA system which our customers and partners use to provide the sound for large format concerts and festivals around the world.
One of the features of MLA is that we are able to steer sound accurately; in addition to this we are able to generate very high sound pressure levels in front of the loudspeakers whilst maintaining a dramatic reduction in sound behind them. This is unique to Martin Audio.
Therefore, theoretically, we could replace the bell over the 4-year period with four hangs/stacks of our MLA units and generate the same kind of level and output as Big Ben by playing a recording which could be fired off on the hour by a computer — all this whilst maintaining safe working levels around the clock tower.
Big Ben was silenced Monday, leaving little time for any replacement to be sourced and installed. The government does seem open to ensuring the continuation of Big Ben’s sounds, however, with some in the Conservative party hoping to have Big Ben chime on the day the United Kingdom leaves the European Union.
One such Tory MP is Jacob Rees-Mogg, who told the Daily Mail: “I think Big Ben ought to be kept striking as much as possible during the repairs as long as it doesn’t deafen the work force. It would be symbolically uplifting for it to sound out our departure from the EU as a literal ringing endorsement of democracy.”
It’s clear that Martin Audio has identified a solution, although the company is still awaiting a reply.
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