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BSS Audio™ Provides Sound Processing and Control For Burj Khalifa, The World’s Tallest Building

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The family of advanced Soundweb™ processors from BSS Audio™ has been used extensively by one of Dubai’s most progressive system integrators, Bond Communications, to provide end-to-end networking at the Burj Khalifa (formerly Burj Dubai). This project, six years in the making, is the largest ever undertaken by the company — and the tallest building in the world.

Harman Professional distributors GSL Professional LLC provided the BSS Audio devices to Bond Communications. These advanced audio tools function on most of the Tower’s 164 floors, and GSL’s Marketing & PR Manager, Glen Kershaw, states, “We were selling these products to Bond pretty much up until the day of the opening — and I anticipate that the after-sales support will be ongoing following the opening.?

Located in the Downtown district — and constructed on a 500-acre plot widely described as “the most prestigious square kilometer on earth? — the building itself boasts some amazing statistics.

The Burj forms a vibrant community for thousands of residents, employees, hotel guests and tourists, with up to 12,000 people living, working and playing inside a building that stands at more than 800 metres / 2,625 ft. The piéce de rèsistance is the tower’s 124th floor observation deck, ‘At the Top, Burj Khalifa’, which offers 360-degree views of the city and is open to the public.

When construction work was at its most intense, more than 12,000 people from over 100 countries were working every day at the Burj Khalifa site, which took 22 million man-hours to build.

Bond Communications AV package manager, Omar Chataw, confirms that his company was asked to provide an integrated, fully-redundant A/V system and the scope of work included networking, cabling, security, home automation, AV conferencing, two-way radio system and master control system.

Chataw knew that the design specification called for a CobraNet™ backbone, which would allow any input to be routed to any output over standard Ethernet.

His introduction to BSS Audio’s catalogue came when he was asked to trial the scalable DSP system on a nearby satellite project — the Lake Hotel. “GSL Professional provided really good support in terms of both knowledge and service,? he said. “The BSS Audio specification was excellent — in particular the newer Soundweb London products with the digital audio bus, which also offered four times the processing capability.?

Chataw’s team constructed the network around large quantities of the newer Soundweb London family members, launched in January 2008. These include the BLU-800, BLU-320, BLU-160 and BLU-120 — products which feature a 256-channel, low-latency, fault tolerant bus. It works on Cat 5e or Cat 6 cable and allows a direct connection between devices over distances of up to 100 meters. This provided Omar Chataw with another compelling reason for adopting the BSS Audio platform.

The building contains seven separate control rooms (and a master), each with a number of Soundweb London products (18 of the newer devices are used in total). As there was a requirement for the audio to run over a standard Ethernet network between the control rooms, CobraNet had been the obvious choice, and thus a BLU-800 is located in each of the control rooms as the main configurable hub.

This transmits the CobraNet bundle direct to CobraNet-equipped amplifiers, ensuring that the signal is kept in the digital domain throughout.

The Soundweb London digital audio bus is used throughout, allowing each zone to have its own fault tolerance. The central control room uses 2 x BLU-800, 2 x BLU-160 and 5 x BLU-120 devices to handle a matrix of over 100 inputs and 100 outputs, taking feeds from the main music server and local line inputs.

Each of the other control areas house either two or three amp/processor racks — giving a total of between 22 and 25 for the entire construction. Only the newer Soundweb London products could create a matrix of this size due to the combination of abundant processing capability and the high channel counts involved with the individual devices.

An AMX control system is employed in various zones throughout the system which interfaces seamlessly with the Soundweb London devices via RS-232 to allow quick and full control of the audio system.

As a result each area is able to listen to the same centralized source or to a source different than the others without any interference. The music system covers all the public areas including corridors, lift lobbies, terraces, reception areas — as well as a number of fine dining rooms and bars inside the world-first Armani Hotel Dubai, which are equipped with local source select and volume controls.

At the same time meeting rooms are provided with complete audio visual solutions for presentations and conferencing, with high-definition capabilities.

Summarized Omar Chataw, “The DSP processing power of the newer BSS Audio products and the digital audio bus provided us with a perfect opportunity. But although we have a strong technical team, we wouldn’t have gone down this route unless we knew we would get full programming, technical and integration support from both BSS Audio and GSL Professional.?

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