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4. Restriction upon television coverage of Joint Sessions, which
we will attempt to resolve in a satisfactory manner if the
There might well be other advantages and disadvantages relating to
enclosing the galleries, but we believe these are the primary ones.
An alternate to any such construction, of course, would be the pro
vision of extremely strict security precautions in the use of the galleries, especially when the House is in session.
Estimate of Cost
Based on a similar study of the Senate Chamber over a year ago,
where the problems and work involved with the enclosure would be comparable,
the overall cost of the enclosure is estimated at $405,000. This does not
include the sound reinforcement system for which funds have already been ap
propriated and which will be described in the following section of this report.
INSTALLATION OF AN ADEQUATE SOUND REINFORCING SYSTEM IN THE HOUSE CHAMBER AND GALLERIES
With the approval of the Speaker in 1968, outside acoustical engineers
were retained to develop information, analysis, cost and other data required for
future design of an up-dated, improved sound reinforcement system for the House
Chamber, including the galleries.
The studies of the acoustical engineers were carried on in consultation
with the Architect of the Capitol and his staff, the Parliamentarian and other
House officials. Their completed report was submitted to the Architect and the
Speaker in September, 1969.
The studies were conducted by Richard H. Bolt and Robert B. Newman and
their assistants, who are internationally known and respected in the field of acoustics. They also made similar studies for the Senate Chamber and designed
the sound reinforcement system which has been in use in the Senate Chamber
for the past few years, with excellent results.
Description of the Proposed System
The new system, proposed for the House Chamber, is intended to ·
replace the obsolete system now in use.
The present system represents
an evolution of the system originally installed in the House Chamber in 1930, a number of elements of which have been replaced gradually following the failure of original components, or have been added to the system in ensuing years in an effort to overcome shortcomings in the performance
of the old installation.
The consultants, in their report, have concluded that:
The basic acoustical characteristics of the House Chamber are favorable for high quality sound amplification; that adequate speech reinforcement techniques can be applied to attain speech intelligibility on the floor and in the Galleries without making architectural modifications, or changes in the decor.
Although the background noises generated by the intermittent entry and departure of gallery audiences do substantially reduce speech intelligibility, the unavoidable noises associated with the activities on the Floor during roll calls and debates indicate the need for a reinforcement system capable of producing higher than normal sound pressure levels without creating feedback. The existing system does not have this capability.
The existing system does not provide adequate coverage
The speech reception in all areas of the Chamber Floor and in all the Galleries can be made properly audible, natural, and effective if a properly designed speech reinforcement system, utilizing the most sophisticated components presently available. Is installed. .
The new installation would distribute the amplified speech
through a relatively large number of small loudspeakers placed in proximity to all listening positions. The purpose of a dense network of low volume loudspeakers is to provide a high uniformity of audience coverage with intelligible speech at appropriate sound levels. Similar installations have proven successful in the United States Senate, The Parliament Building in Ottawa, Canada, the House of Representatives of the State of Missouri, and in other import
This objective can be accomplished by placing obscured loudspeakers in the Rostrum area; within all Members' chairs, in the Press Gallery, and throughout the seating areas of all Public
Galleries. The microphone installations will duplicate in number
those presently utilized on the Rostrum, in the Wells, and at the
Democratic and Republican tables. A new console will be installed
in the location of the existing console, at which the sound system
To avoid conflicts with the activities of the House, the
physical work associated with the new installation will have to be accomplished after adjournments of daily sessions by
qualified electronic technicians, carried on the rolls of the
Architect of the Capitol.
Placement of Microphones and Speakers
10 microphones, for speaking, would be installed as follows: 2 on the Rostrum (one for the Speaker; one for the Reading Clerk);
2 in the Democratic and Republican Wells, 6 at the Democratic and
Republican Tables - the same as at present.
Loudspeakers, serving the positions of the Speaker, the
Reading Clerk, the House Clerks, the Parliamentarian, the Sergeant
at Arms, and the Official Reporters would be installed in their respective locations.
Each seat on the floor would be served by an individual loudspeaker installed in an enclosure mounted under the back of the chair, except in the front row where the loudspeakers would be installed inside the armrests.
The audience in the Galleries would be served by 358 loudspeakers distributed at appropriate locations in the galleries. The Press Gallery would also be provided with loudspeakers.
The microphones for the Speaker and the Reading Clerk would
be provided with cut-off switches which would permit muting of the
microphone by the user.
All microphones used in the proposed system would have
unidirectional pickup patterns. This characteristic maximizes
pickup from the direction in which the microphone is oriented,
that is, from the direction of the person speaking, while
minimizing pickup of ambient noises.
All microphone positions will be provided with signal lights
indicating the "live" condition of the microphone.
Microphone cables, loudspeaker cables and signal wiring
will be run concealed under the floor of the Chamber.
Loudspeaker wiring for the loudspeakers in the Galleries will be
run in surface-mounted conduit.
The control position for the new system will remain unchanged
from the existing position at the railing of the Public Gallery North.
The control position will include a control panel with illuminated
switches operating each of the microphone channels individually. Each microphone channel would be provided with an individual microphone pre
amplifier and mixing control.
The system would include equalization to provide best intelligibility
and best overall quality and naturalness of sound.
The system would also include an automatic level control
amplifier intended to assist the system's operator in maintaining
a constant level of reinforcement.
A breakdown of the estimated cost of the sound system follows: