Cambridge’s councils have sound issues


How can we improve the ability of councillors to make themselves heard, and how can we improve the audio set up in council chambers? Because I’m getting too many complaints about poor quality audio that is outside of my control.

Have a watch of the video below – which I’ve processed as a HD video rather than a standard large video that I normally do for long council meetings. (The latter means a smaller file size).

I’ve used multiple examples of the audio issues I face as a community cameraman and reporter. I’ve also provided examples of good microphone technique as well as poor technique. I’ve also commented on the limitations of each chamber in the video. The councils featured are:

  • Cambridge City Council – The Guildhall’s council chamber
  • Cambridgeshire County Council – Shire Hall’s council chamber
  • South Cambridgeshire District Council – South Cambridgeshire Hall’s chamber/function room

Both The Guildhall and Shire Hall were built in the 1930s. South Cambridgeshire Hall was built in the much more recent past. Due to the nature of the chambers, they all struggle with audibility – strange given that their prime functions is to host public debates.

“Hardly anyone watches local council videos, so why does it matter?”


Over 11,000 hits in the past three months, with spikes in early Sept and mid-Oct 2016. The first relating to a demo outside The Guildhall and the second pair relating to meetings on local planning and transport issues. People care. Note that nearly all of my videos related to local democracy issues in and around Cambridge. The videos therefore appeal to a very small geographic audience – and only a small section within that geographic audience of not much more than 200,000 people.

“What are your recommendations for councillors and public speakers?”

For the councils as institutions:

Please review your existing audio-visual facilities in your council chambers and consider upgrading your sound systems so that community reporters can record audio footage directly from your sound systems using flash drives.

Please consider upgrading your chamber audio speakers so that the frequency has a greater range and a warmer/more comfortable-sounding sound.

Please consider upgrading your chamber microphones so that councillors and speakers can extend/retract the microphones depending on whether they are standing, sitting or can adjust according to the height of the speaker.

Please consider whether you should invite new public speakers to rehearse their public questions so they get used to using a microphone and used to hearing their voice played back on a modern sound system.

For councillors

Please learn the basics of how to use microphones properly.

Please undertake regular public speaking training/coaching/mentoring – in both cases think accessibility of your constituents.

For readers/watchers/local residents

If you would like the audio in my videos to be improved, please email your councillor via – you only need to know your postcode. Because I don’t have the spare money needed for a professional broadcast standard microphone plus sound system to compensate.

Thank you.


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