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Iconyx and a Tale of Three Stations

Poland [September 2013]...Thanks in large part to funding as one of the EU’s latest members, Poland is investing heavily in its public transport, and Renkus-Heinz digitally steerable systems are a key part of the audio solution in three of the country’s major train stations.

The EU’s expansion in 2004 brought Poland into the European Union, and the ensuing grants from Brussels have been wisely invested into major public projects to refresh the country’s infrastructure. The result is a new look for 21st century Poland. Western Europe-standard motorways now link Poland’s major cities, and the country’s rail system is quickly being brought up to modern high-speed standards.

Three main train stations, each a key part of the country’s updated rail infrastructure, are Warsaw East, Wroclaw and Katowice. Once aging architectural icons, all are now technological marvels, incorporating full international health and safety standards. Regional and international trains link to the Europe-wide high-speed network, and many ‘hub’ stations have now been redeveloped to include shopping malls. A major part of this is the installation of PA/VA systems which accompany video screens displaying train arrival and departure details.

System integrators M.Ostrowski sp.j. has been contracted to provide audio solutions for Warsaw East, Wroclaw, and Katowice stations. In each, while the architecture and loudspeaker locations details differ, the overall concept has been the same. Renkus-Heinz Iconyx digital beam steering arrays, networked over CobraNet via a redundant fiber optical network and controlled by RHAON, complement digital signage in the most acoustically difficult areas of huge booking halls, shopping malls and platform spaces.

Warsaw (East) is a hub station, with many lines interconnecting locally, regionally, and internationally. One of the city’s main rail interchanges, its huge, glass-walled airport style building never boasted user friendly acoustics, but M.Ostrowski’s solution changed all that. STRABAG company was the General Contractor and SYGNITY company was the subcontractor.

This was a common theme of the three contracts, in which measurable acoustical intelligibility was the most important aspect of the audio installations in large, hard surfaced halls. Passengers, finally, would be able to hear announcements in complete clarity, thanks to Iconyx technology’s exceptional STI delivery.

The fully networked design includes a very impressive text-to-voice simulation for regular train announcements, with each station also having manual override in case of train delays. The main hall, a glorious sunlit space where digital signage is flanked by four IC16-R arrays, delivers the essential visual and audio information.

The smaller area for local trains is covered by three Renkus-Heinz IC8 units, while 13 SG61-2Rs and three SG612S-2Rs cover the restaurant area. System distribution is handled by a Yamaha DME64 with CobraNet card, an HP ProCurve and a DME8oC Yamaha CobraNet to analogue output converter. Commissioning was the work of Jim Mobley from Renkus-Heinz and M. Ostrowski’s Michał Popławski.

The second station is Wrocław Główny (main train station), a 15,000 sq m project that restored this 150 year old monument in grand style. In this stunning building upper-level multiple train platforms reside under a classic curved roof. The refurbishment won the 2012 RICS [Royal Institute of Charted Surveyors] Regeneration Award. The new €78m passenger concourse and shopping mall on the lower level has a series of 10 Iconyx IC8-R loudspeakers, plus a pair of IC16-Rs that (almost invisibly) flank giant digital video displays in stereo pairs. In this typically reverberant space, the announcements’ calmness verges on the uncanny. Here, the general contractor was Budimex, the installations supplier, TKTelekom and the audio installations subcontractor M.Ostrowski in cooperation with Tommex Zebrowscy Sp. J.

Along with ceiling speakers suspended above the platforms the rest of the list is largely as at Warsaw – a DME64 processor with CobraNet and analogue input/output cards, while the Yamaha processor is fed from APS APROSYS input modules. Again an electronic text-to-speech simulator serves the audio information for passengers.

The third installation is the train station in Katowice in Silesia, Poland, which features 10 IC16/8-Rs, with Dynacord P64 distribution and a Yamaha DME8oC CobraNet-to-analogue converter. An HP ProCurve serves part of the system’s redundant Ethernet network distribution. The general contractor for this project was STRABAG, the installations supplier TKTelekom and the commissioning was done by M.Ostrowski.

Łukasz Toboła comments: “The Iconyx loudspeakers have enabled us to provide good speech intelligibility, even in a hall that is quite complicated acoustically. The train company and station managers are very satisfied with the quality of sound, and with the excellent speech intelligibility. And that combination, I think, is the main feature that puts us on a higher level than other popular loudspeakers.”

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Headquartered in Foothill Ranch, California, Renkus-Heinz, Inc. is the worldwide leader in the design and manufacture of audio operations networks, digitally steerable arrays, powered and non-powered loudspeakers, system specific electronics and fully integrated Reference Point Array systems.

Christie Vive Audio Cinema Solution Combines with Dolby Atmos at Krikorian Premiere Theatres

Christie®, the dominant brand in the digital cinema projection market, announced the world’s first deployment of a complete Christie Vive Audio™ cinema sound system in an auditorium powered by Dolby® Atmos™, a new audio solution that revolutionizes the experience of sound in entertainment. Selected by Krikorian Premiere Theatres’ Buena Park Metroplex 18 in California, Christie Vive Audio is the world’s first audio system to be powered by Christie’s innovative wall and ceiling surround speakers, which feature unique ribbon driver technology in a parabolic line array design, purposely crafted and built for the cinema environment.

Christie Vive Audio System


“Krikorian Theatres are recognized for taking the lead in implementing the first and best technology available to ensure an unrivaled movie-viewing experience for their guests,” said Craig Sholder, vice president, Entertainment Solutions, Christie. “The combination of a complete Christie Vive Audio system and the award-winning Dolby Atmos audio format heralds a new standard in delivering lifelike, realistic cinema sound and continues Krikorian Theatres’ tradition of bringing the latest, cutting-edge technology to their facilities.”

The 40-channel, cinema-centric line array audio system implemented at Krikorian Theatres includes the latest addition to the Christie Vive Audio line; the Christie LA3C ceiling line array; and Christie LA3S wall line array surround speakers. Recognized for their exceptional timbre matching, enhanced voice intelligibility, and low distortion, the speakers’ unique parabolic, line array design increases the optimal listening area up to four times that of the standard point source systems. As fully integrated components of the Christie Vive Audio system, the speakers help unlock the full potential of leading audio technologies such as Dolby Atmos.

“Like Dolby, the hallmark of Christie’s success has been its continuous ability to deliver innovative and groundbreaking solutions to the exhibition market. Christie’s latest developments in cinema-specific line array surround speaker technology meet the requirements and performance we strive for in Dolby Atmos auditoriums,” said Stuart Bowling, director, market development, Dolby Laboratories.

“We are excited to expand Dolby Atmos to our Buena Park location. The addition of an integrated Christie Vive Audio solution, combined with the power of Dolby Atmos, ensures a potent combination of sight and sound that will ensure the highest quality movie-going experience for our guests,” said Todd Cummings, vice president of operations, Krikorian Premiere Theatres. “We were one of the first major exhibitors to offer all-digital screens, and now we are the first to deliver the unrivaled combination of Christie Vive Audio and Dolby Atmos.”

“As the creative community expands the envelope in delivering audiences the most realistic audio experience possible, we’ve developed a series of specific Christie Vive audio products that help exhibitors meet those performance challenges,” said Patrick Artiaga, director, Business Development, Entertainment Solutions, Christie. “By introducing Christie ribbon driver technology through a single-enclosure line array speaker design and Class D amplification into a cinema environment, we’ve raised the bar in next-generation audio technology and implementation, giving exhibitors like Krikorian Theatres a true competitive edge.”

The complete Christie Vive Audio solution includes ceiling surrounds, wall surrounds, screen channel speakers, subwoofers, and Class D amplifiers. The system is ideal for traditional and premium large-format auditoriums, as well as postproduction studios and screening rooms.

For more information on Christie’s new audio initiatives, visit www.viveaudio.com.

Innovative Christie Line Array Surround Speakers Expand Christie Vive Audio Immersive Sound Solution

Christie®, the world’s dominant brand in the digital cinema projection market, takes cinema audio to the next level of realism with the introduction of the Christie LA3C line array ceiling surround and Christie LA3S line array surround speakers. Another industry first for Christie, the new surround speakers expand the company’s innovative Christie Vive Audio™ cinema sound solution that was announced on July 17. Featuring the pioneering combination of ribbon driver technology and a unique parabolic line array design in a single compact cabinet, the additional speakers deliver exceptionally even coverage throughout the auditorium. As part of the Christie Vive Audio system, they help unleash the potential of the leading immersive audio technologies such as Dolby® Atmos™ and Auro 3D audio formats.

Christie Vive Audio LA3C Speaker

“Immersive audio is the next frontier in digital cinema, allowing the placement of sound anywhere in the theater – even on the ceiling – to perfectly complement the visual elements of the movie in a powerful and dynamic, lifelike way that is unrivaled for its realism,” noted Craig Sholder, vice president, Entertainment Solutions, Christie. “Christie Vive Audio has set the new standard in immersive cinema sound by combining all the benefits of ribbon driver technology in a line array configuration with Class D amplification and putting it all into a cinema environment, while also meeting the performance demands of the DCI specification. With this announcement, we’re expanding our product line with surround speakers that produce unprecedented uniformity of sound throughout the entire audience listening area, without compromising on quality.”

The Christie LA3C line array ceiling surround speaker and Christie LA3S line array surround speakers are premium solutions that also meet Christie’s goal of providing exhibitors with the highest quality cinema system at an attainable price point. Recognized for their exceptional timbre-matching, enhanced voice intelligibility and low distortion, the speakers’ unique parabolic, line array design increases the optimal listening area up to four times that of the standard point source systems. The extremely low mass of the ribbon drivers allows them to respond very quickly to audio signals and eliminates the effects of high frequency breakup and power compression, resulting in the reproduction of the source material with exceptional clarity and accuracy.

“The Christie LA3C and Christie LA3S surround speakers feature dramatically higher RMS to peak max SPL ratio than traditional, compression driver systems. This means that powerful, sudden bursts of sounds, such as explosions, pop through quickly and flawlessly, without the lag that can detract from the purity of the experience,” said Jim Hall, senior product manager, Entertainment Solutions, Christie.

“There is nothing like them in the cinema environment today for immersive auditoriums,” said Patrick Artiaga, director, Business Development, Entertainment Solutions, Christie. “The speakers’ unique parabolic line array design ensures a wide, even dispersion of the sound throughout the entire auditorium, so ‘every seat is a good seat.’ As part of the Christie Vive Audio system, they can be easily integrated into any existing or new theater auditorium for a premium immersive listening experience that makes exhibitors stand out from their competition.”

Christie Vive Audio LA3S Speaker


The complete Christie Vive Audio solution includes ceiling surrounds, wall surrounds, screen channel speakers, subwoofers, and Class D amplifiers. The system is ideal for traditional and premium large-format auditoriums, as well as postproduction studios and screening rooms.

For more information on Christie’s new audio initiative, visit www.viveaudio.com.

Community Provides Audio Quality and Reliability for Poland’s Mielec Stadium

Tommex Zebrowscy Sp. J. has completed the design and installation of a Community loudspeaker based audio system for the new multi-use Mielec Stadium, in Southeast Poland.
Home to the Stal Mielec football (soccer) team, the new stadium replaces the original which was built in 1953 and hosted numerous high-profile events like the European Champions Cup, UEFA Cup, and Polish national team matches, including FIFA World Cup and UEFA European Championship qualifiers. While providing a completely modern venue, the new stadium replicates the old venue’s seating capacity of 30,000 and its format of an athletics track around the playing field to provide multi-sport facilities.
Two tiered stands flank the length of the stadium, with the main West stand also providing for 100m athletic events. The system designed by Tommex comprises twelve Community R.5HPT three-way, horn-loaded coaxial loudspeakers covering the seating areas of the West stand, with a mirrored system of twelve Community R.5HPTs covering the East stand. Two R2-52 three-way, horn-loaded triaxial loudspeakers are also mounted on the West stand canopy, to cover the pitch and competition zones. Additionally, Tommex provided sound projector and ceiling loudspeakers for the public areas and the rooms under the stands.

Tommex chose Dynacord DSA 8410 and PCL 1240T amplifiers to drive the systems, located in two separate amp rooms in the West and East stands. System integrity is ensured with the use of Dynacord’s DCS (Digital Control Switching) system to provide uninterrupted transmission in the event of any amplifier failure.

Mixing is provided by a Dynacord CMS 1000-3 and a Dynacord P 64 controls the matrix and signal processing, with system monitoring. A computer with touch screen is connected to the matrix P64 to provide a convenient interface for independently adjusting sound levels in the stands, on the pitch and in the zones under the stands.

Jarosław Kraszewski of Tommex, the designer and project manager for the system, explained, “We have successfully completed many projects of this type and always get great results using Community R-Series. Their audio quality, high intelligibility and efficiency set the standard that stadia expect today and their all-weather capability and long-term reliability is a major factor that we know we can depend on.”

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Related Topics: Large Venue, Loudspeakers |

Community Helps “Horses with Hope” Rescue Horses

Broadview Farms, near Hope, Maine, is the home of “Horses with Hope,” an organization whose mission is to rescue and rehabilitate abused, neglected and abandoned horses and match them with compatible homes. In 2013, Horses with Hope completed a spacious new venue at Broadview Farms with an indoor riding arena, a viewing area, horse stalls and living quarters for staff and visitors.

Designed and built by “Houses and Barns by John Libby”, the facility includes an audio system designed to recreate the sounds from a commercial venue, such as a riding tournament, and to play music and provide communication for horse training.
General contractor Houses and Barns by John Libby retained AV Systems of Maine of Bowdoinham, Maine, to design and install the audio system. Owner Bill Wayman chose Community R-Series loudspeakers for the arena and Community D-Series ceiling loudspeakers for the viewing area, offices and other spaces.

“The arena is open to the outside,” said Wayman, “so I wanted loudspeakers that sounded good and could deal with the temperature and humidity extremes we have in Maine.” Wayman designed an array for the arena with four Community R1-94TZ loudspeakers equipped with 200-watt auto-transformers. He used a single R.5-99TZ for down-fill.
For the viewing area, offices and other spaces, Wayman designed a 70-volt distributed system with six pairs of Community model D6 ceiling loudspeakers.

The audio system uses an Ashly 8-channel power amplifier and an Ashly controller/processor. Wayman provided two wireless headset microphones to allow the riders and trainers to talk to visitors in the viewing areas. Trainers also use these microphones to communicate with riders. Users can select microphones, music or natural background sounds and control the system volume from a wall panel in each zone.

Wayman says the owners are very pleased with the sound quality and coverage of the audio system. “They agreed to have me install two additional zones after hearing the arena system,” he said.

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Community Escalates Performance, Style and Musicality of R-Series with New “R-MAX” and Compact Models

Community Professional Loudspeakers has announced the introduction of eight new models to its premiere R-Series line, with new performance dimensions that expand the applications of this already comprehensive loudspeaker range. Three new compact models, the R.15COAX, R.35COAX, and R.35-3896, give systems designers increased flexibility by offering vastly improved music playback, additional coverage patterns and higher output in attractive paintable ABS enclosures. Five new R-MAX products, the R.5-66MAX, R.5-96MAX, R2-64MAX, R2-66MAX, and R2-94MAX, provide the most well behaved, flattest musical response, premium loudspeakers ever offered in the R-Series.

The R.15COAX and R.35COAX use identical 1.25-inch exit HF compression drivers, featuring Community’s exclusive Tru-Phase™ phase plug technology, and Carbon Ring Cone woofer technology which allows LF drivers to exhibit cone areas up to 20% larger than standard woofers of the same diameter. Both models feature front loaded LF drivers, 6.5-inch in the R.15COAX and 10-inch in the R.35COAX, in highly reinforced enclosures for natural, non-resonant low frequency reproduction, while identical voicing across both models ensures a uniform listening experience. The dynamic R.35-3896 is a triaxial 8-inch Carbon Ring Cone loudspeaker featuring Community’s exclusive MultiSource Waveguide™ technology, integrating the output from dual midrange compression drivers and a 1-inch exit HF compression driver into a single coherent source. Fully passive, it is voiced for flat musical reproduction without EQ and delivers class-leading SPL levels for a loudspeaker of its size.

“In addition to the great musical performance of these new compact models, the most obvious visual difference is the sleek new paintable ABS enclosure,” said Chris Barrow, Community’s Director of Product Marketing. “It is visually superior and offers more flexibility while costing less to produce. That allowed us to invest in better audio components for exceptional
performance without driving up the price.”

R-Series has always been acknowledged for its high output and voice intelligibility. Now, R-MAX also demonstrates the type of premium music performance that Community is capable of delivering. These loudspeakers can hold their ground against products costing two or three times as much. R-MAX are not just great outdoor loudspeakers, they are great loudspeakers period.” With the addition of the new R-Series models, Community provides systems designers and consultants with a new palette of features, while also improving core R-Series capabilities.

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Mackie and CCI Bring Audio Salvation to Acoustically Challenged Life Church

Woodinville, WA — August 2013… CCI Solutions has a well-deserved reputation for creative solutions to challenging spaces. So it’s not surprising that the Olympia, WA-based AV design firm is behind the unique installation at Life Church in nearby Oak Harbor, featuring a 360-degree all-Mackie audio system.

With multiple weekly services hosting a growing membership approaching 900, Life Church recently completed an expansion project that includes a new multi-purpose youth facility. Housed in a futuristic looking geodesic dome, the youth center is designed as a circular worship space with integrated audiovisual system and seating for 150.

“This was an unusual space that presented some unique acoustical challenges,” explains Rick Boring, Sr. Systems Consultant for CCI Solutions. “The structure had been built several years ago but was never completed, and was uninhabitable. The room itself is circular, so every single interior wall is angled. Configuring it with traditional theater seating would have presented some coverage problems, and the need to go with a curved video screen, which would be expensive.”

CCI’s simple and effective solution was to design a space with 360-degree seating. A small, slightly elevated stage at the room’s hub is built around a single center truss that holds four Mackie HD series loudspeakers and four LCD displays.

“The youth pastor conducts the service from the center stage, while the rest of the band is on another small stage an alcove off to one side,” says Boring. “And depending on how the room is configured, the band alcove can sometimes wind up behind the seating area.”

“Placing the speakers in the center was the easiest and most cost-effective way to ensure good, consistent coverage,” Boring adds. “Plus, everyone is watching the worship leader on the center stage, and reading the text on the screens above him. Having the sound emanate from the middle of the room simply makes the most sense.”

The main loudspeaker cluster consists of four Mackie HD1531 powered 15-inch 3-way systems. The speakers are mounted vertically above the LCD displays and angled down toward the seating areas.

“The Mackie HD1531 offers great sound quality and versatility for the money,” Boring remarked. “With a challenging job like this, where space and budget are important, the HD1531 delivers a tremendous amount of clean output and bandwidth. So when the kids want to rock they can do it no problem. They’re fully powered, so we didn’t have to worry about outboard amps, and they’ve got more than enough low end for this space, so they don’t need a sub.”

For mixing duties Boring specified a Mackie DL1608 digital live mixer with iPad control. In addition to the band, inputs include a wireless microphone system for the youth pastor, as well as a Denon recording and playback system. The Mackie DL1608 provides outputs for mains as well as monitors, and handles 100% of the system DSP.

“The DL1608 is absolutely perfect for a job like this,” says Boring. “It’s really simple to use, has excellent processing power already onboard, and packs plenty of I/O for its size.”

The “keep it simple” mindset extends beyond all things audio to the video system as well. Beneath the four Mackie HD series loudspeakers are four 65-inch LCD displays. Signal is provided by a Mac Mini computer running ProPresenter software. Four separate Xbox 360 consoles are each coupled to the four screens for rowdy, eye-to-eye multi-player sessions.

While technology may be their passion, the team at CCI Solutions will ultimately cite customer satisfaction as their highest priority. For Life Church, Boring is especially pleased with the finished product.

“We care about these churches and we want to help them communicate their message,” concludes Boring. “I worked very closely with Life Church’s Sr. Pastor from the very beginning of this project. He’s very pleased with the final result and that’s exactly what we strive for.”

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Mackie, a LOUD Technologies Inc. brand, is known worldwide as a leading developer and marketer of high-quality, affordable professional audio systems. Mackie products can be found in professional and project recording studios, video and broadcast suites, post production facilities, sound reinforcement applications including churches and nightclubs, retail locations and on major musical tours. For more information visit: www.mackie.com.

Mackie is a registered trademark of LOUD Technologies Inc. in the United States, European Union and other countries. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

Starlight Express Celebrates 25th Anniversary With Martin Audio MLA Compact

When the updated production of Starlight Express opened at Bochum, Germany’s Stadionring—celebrating 25 years since its premiere performance at the specially constructed ‘Starlight Express Theater’ in 1988—it featured Martin Audio’s award-winning Multi-cellular Loudspeaker Array (MLA) platform for the first time.

Advertising itself as “the fastest musical in the universe” it fell to sound supervisor Riccardo van Krugten and system engineer/installation manager, Georg Hentschel to supercharge the next generation production while remaining faithful to Martin Levan’s original sound design.

Hentschel was already familiar with Martin Audio’s pioneering system, since his company (LiveAudio) has owned an MLA rig since May 2011. He later attended the world launch of the second-generation MLA Compact in London, and it is the smaller system that his company has now installed for this production.

Overseeing the sound in Bochum since early 2010, Riccardo van Krugten was eager that the production remained faithful to a single system to cope with the fast roller skating action. “We wanted a stereo set-up for the orchestra, and a separate system for vocals, positioned above the main performance area,” he said. “This required a PA solution that would reproduce music and vocals equally well.” Another issue was the need to reduce spill and crosstalk from the PA speakers into the 25 fast moving Microport headsets.

Since the new production promised “to take audio engineering to the highest level”, van Krugten knew that today’s audience expectation is far greater than it was two decades ago. He was also mindful of past complaints concerning vocal intelligibility and clarity in parts of the auditorium. “And so we searched for a system that would provide even coverage for all seats in the house, maintaining frequency response and sound levels.”

That search began after Andreas Karsten had produced a 3D EASE model of the Starlight Express Theater. Said Riccardo, “We ran various simulations with the existing speakers and looked at the problems. Then we ran the same simulations with a two conventional line array rigs at different positions to identify whether a line source solution could be used in this situation, before inviting nine manufacturers for two shoot out sessions.”

Atlantic Audio, Martin Audio’s German distributor, organized the hardware and crew for this shoot out, which took place in front of the full production team, including Phil Edwards, the musical supervisor from England.

To thoroughly evaluate the competing systems, Riccardo prepared a file in ProLogic containing samples from the show (and other vocal recordings of different tonalities), as well as music that everyone would recognize. “For the second half of the session we had the Starlight rhythm section and three cast members perform live from different positions on stage,” he said. “In two shoot out sessions, we heard nine different (mono) arrays rigged side by side. The MLA Compact never left any doubt it would handle reliably whatever kind of audio we threw at it.”

As a result, 27 MLA Compacts have been divided into three flown L/C/R arrays of nine elements each, along with three DSX subs ground stacked left and right of the stage. This is designed to cover the entire auditorium including the balcony and the middle sub on each side is reversed to produce a cardioid pattern. The subs are set unconventionally just outside the left and right array —stacked on the middle track level a few meters above the ground—and are sunk into the proscenium wall, via a specially-designed setup.

A pair of Martin Audio W8VDQ hybrid boxes provide outfill coverage extension of the center array, while production rigged a so-called ‘crossfire’ system, so that those sitting at the sides of the auditorium would also receive a stereo orchestra image.

Georg Hentschel explained, “Starlight has a large cast equipped with omnidirectional lavalier mics who constantly move around the set on three levels behind the speakers and also in front of the PA, often directly facing the arrays. During one particular scene, six highly amplified singers are elevated directly behind the center array, which mainly handles vocals. The amazing reduction in backspill of the MLA Compact masters these challenges in a very impressive way. The other aspect, of course, is MLA’s outstanding tonal quality.“

Hentschel set ‘Hard Avoid’ for the areas behind the arrays where there is a lot of singer traffic as well as to the areas underneath the speaker systems. Further back down the auditorium, the problems become even more complex, with two tracks running right through the audience, who are seated on different levels. Finally, there is a balcony and several rows of seating at both side walls that need to be covered.

“I challenged the system with various optimizations to achieve the best solution, and it has really delivered; we were able to solve many problems with MLA’s advanced technology, and it was absolutely the right system for the job,” he said.

And Riccardo van Krugten also commends the seamless swap-over between old and new sound systems. “The transition was smoother than expected. We knew it would be a whole new world for the performers. Part of the new concept was to reposition and reuse some of the old PA speakers for monitoring purposes, and that idea played out really well. All in all, I believe we have respected Martin Levan’s clever original sound design by replacing existing components with more advanced technology.”

Head of sound in Bochum is Jürgen Janßen, who mixed all the shows during the process of changing over the sound system, while Riccardo created the matrix layout and Georg took care of the necessary programming and alignment. Throughout the process Atlantic Audio coordinated between Martin Audio and the production team.

For more about Martin Audio and MLA, please click to www.martin-audio.com

Photo credit: Jens Hauer

Renkus-Heinz Helps Prairie Meadows Cut to the Chase

Renkus-Heinz Helps Prairie Meadows Cut to the Chase

Altoona, IA – September 2013… In 1989, Prairie Meadows Raceway opened its doors with the goal of giving central Iowa residents a horse racing facility of their own. Twenty-five years later, Prairie Meadows has grown to include a 168-room hotel with state-of-the-art amenities, live and simulcast horse racing, a massive casino with table games and more than 2,000 slot machines, restaurants, lounges, and a busy concert venue.

Among the horse racing community, Prairie Meadows has gained considerable recognition as an exceptionally well-designed and well-run facility, drawing racing fans from across the state and the region. Among the Raceway’s many amenities is a massive four story glass pavilion that offers comfortable indoor seating on multiple levels. It’s a treat for spectators but with all the makings of a sonic nightmare, explains Mike Pedersen, Senior Staff Engineer at Marshalltown, IA-based Mechdyne, the audio video integrators behind this state-of-the-art project.

“It’s a challenging venue,” says Pedersen. “It was built in phases over 20-plus years, and has a mix of seating styles, with stadium seating on one level, grandstand seating on another, as well as a multi-tiered dining area with tables. The original sound system has been expanded in a piecemeal fashion throughout the years, and had become untenable — coverage was inconsistent and intelligibility was next to nil. They were actually cranking up the volume on each individual TV monitor just so people could hear the race.”

“They originally came to us with concerns about the quality and coverage of the tiered seating areas overlooking the racetrack,” explains Mechdyne Designer Tim Taylor. “But they were also in the process of mapping out an expansion of the entire casino, which was going to require an audio system too. At that point it made far more sense to suggest that they implement a larger system with networked distribution and processing.”

“It made sense from a budgetary perspective, certainly,” adds Pedersen. “There was very little by way of documentation on the existing system, so just identifying where things were would have been very time consuming. We were able to design them a networked system that would give them DSP control, monitoring, and expandability, as well as providing them with full documentation going forward.”

The 70V distributed audio system is based around more than 40 TRX-121 two-way Complex Conic loudspeakers, with DSP and amplification handled by Biamp Tesira and Vocia networks. As Pedersen explains, one of the objectives behind the complex signal processing is to increase intelligibility and directionalize the sound source.

“When things get exciting, when the announcers get excited, we want the spectators to be turning their heads toward the direction of the audio,” he says. “The goal was to draw the ear, and the eye, toward the racing action. So even though the speakers are mounted where the glass and ceiling meet, we needed to create the sonic impression that the sound was coming from down on the track.”

In the casino area, several dozen TRX81 loudspeakers are flown from the ceiling to provide music and paging coverage. “It’s a very high, open, unfinished ceiling, which limited our choices of loudspeakers,” says Taylor. “The TRX81 has a very tight, controlled dispersion pattern, and by mounting them in a grid pointing straight down, we were able to achieve seamless coverage across the entire open seating area, with no overlap or dead zones.”

The system is designed for flexibility, providing everything from background music and paging to zoned functionality. “We’ve set up a number of snapshots, enabling them to zone off various meeting rooms and ballrooms,” says Taylor. “And of course, the Vocia amps are rated for emergency paging functions as well.”

The decision to go with Renkus-Heinz and the TRX series was an easy one, says Pedersen, based on past experience with the brand. “We have for many years seen Renkus-Heinz as one of the leading companies in quality and service, so when the time came and it was clear they were interested in a high-quality product, we didn’t hesitate to recommend it.”

For Mechdyne, the Prairie Meadows project was something of a departure; the company is known for its expertise in Virtual Reality and 3D visualization technology, as well as complex IT and networking projects. “It’s true that our company crew out of a certain niche in virtual reality and simulation type systems,” says Pedersen. “And typically we find that clients and designers of VR systems tend to consider audio a lower priority, which is unfortunate considering how much a part of the overall experience audio represents. For us, Prairie Meadows was an exciting project, because it enabled us to design an audio-only system where the sound pretty much disappears into the experience. That would have been far more difficult without the pattern control of the TRX loudspeakers.”

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Headquartered in Foothill Ranch, California, Renkus-Heinz, Inc. is the worldwide leader in the design and manufacture of audio operations networks, digitally steerable arrays, powered and non-powered loudspeakers, system specific electronics and fully integrated Reference Point Array systems.

BLASTED AROUND THE CLOCK BY SALT AIR DANLEY OS-80 HIGH-FIDELITY WEATHERPROOF SPEAKERS DELIVER SONIC CLARITY AT NEW TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY-CORPUS CHRISTI OUTDOOR STADIUM

CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS – SEPTEMBER 2013: Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi is situated on Ward Island, braced on one side by Oso Bay and on the other side by Corpus Christi Bay. With some of the highest average wind speeds in the nation, the entire campus possesses a maritime atmosphere (read: “salty sea spray air, 24/7”) that inspired the nickname for its students: Islanders. Thus, when it came time to specify loudspeakers that would remain outside around the clock at the new $9 million Dugan Family Soccer and Track Stadium, A/V design firm Anthony James Partners specified Danley Sound Labs’ new OS-80 loudspeaker. The OS-80 delivers the exceptional fidelity and pattern control that are the hallmarks of Tom Danley’s innovative loudspeaker designs in a fully-weatherproof housing.

Anthony James Partners was asked to join the project only a few months before it was slated for completion – a very tight time frame – and to make matters tighter, no one bid on the design. For many years prior, the Corpus Christi branch of Network Cabling Services had worked successfully with the university on its networking infrastructure, and when the university learned that Network Cabling Services had an A/V team at another branch office, it saw the solution to its installation dilemma. “We walked the stadium in late June and the project had an August 1st deadline for completion,” explained James Daniels, systems integrator with Network Cabling Services. “It was a super tight timeline, and Danley Sound Labs came through – as they always do – on time.”

The Danley OS-80 shares the same patented Synergy Horn technology of Danley’s SH-Series loudspeakers, which gives it an even frequency and phase response, tight pattern control, seamless array-ability, and vastly improved clarity and intelligibility over conventional designs. In addition, the OS-80 is engineered to function without compromise in driving rain, freezing cold, and, most germane here, maritime air. “The Danley OS-80 is sealed up tight,” said Daniels, who took one apart. “There’s an O-ring at the split, and there’s no other place where moisture can get in. That’s critical on Ward Island, where these loudspeakers will be berated by salty wind 18 out of every 24 hours, year in and year out.”

The design features ten Danley OS-80s. Four OS-80s hang side-by-side on the press box to cover the main grandstand, which seats approximately 750. Two more OS-80s hang off the side of the press box in a near-field/far-field configuration to cover a gathering area. Two OS-80s hang off the field house in a near-field/far-field configuration to cover the long jump and pole-vault area. And the final pair was made to be a portable rig that could be set up and integrated for different occasions and specific areas that were not covered by the installed sound system. “The system is spread out, with each loudspeaker covering specific areas,” said Daniels. “To do it any other way would have risked noise pollution at adjacent buildings and facilities.”

Inputs to the system include three field boxes, each with four microphone inputs and two communications inputs, along with press box microphones and audio playback devices. The inputs feed a patch panel and a 16-channel Allen & Heath MixWizard analog console. The console outputs to a QSC Q-Sys Core 250i DSP system. QSC PL-Series and CX-Series amplifiers power the system. “Strictly speaking, the Danley OS-80s are not being powered up to their program rating,” said Daniels. “We just didn’t need to project as far as they’re capable of. Nevertheless, the system sounds incredible – the intelligibility and clarity are phenomenal. We performed a test with a wireless microphone. We were about 650 feet away and the time delay meant that we were halfway through a sentence when it came back to us. We could hear and understand everything perfectly. It was crystal clear.” And this, from a fully-weatherized loudspeaker!

ABOUT DANLEY SOUND LABS Danley Sound Labs is the exclusive home of Tom Danley, one of the most innovative loudspeaker designers in the industry today and recognized worldwide as a pioneer for “outside the box” thinking in professional audio technology. www.danleysoundlabs.com

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