Issue 209 / March 2018
AV INTEGRATION IN A NETWORKED WORLD
EN54: the Dante approach p10 Enabling fully compliant PA-VA systems ISE 2018 review p16
Highlights from the (again) record-breaking show
Pro AV as a career option p36 How to attract and develop the best talent
EAR-CATCHING PROJECTS Special report: creating better audio in a range of environments p24
New categories announced - turn to page 14 for details
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Editor: Paddy Baker firstname.lastname@example.org +44 (0)20 7354 6034
Content director: James McKeown email@example.com Senior production executive: Jason Dowie firstname.lastname@example.org +44 (0)20 3829 2617
Deputy editor: Duncan Proctor email@example.com +44 (0)20 7354 6037
Digital director: Diane Oliver firstname.lastname@example.org
Group sales manager: Gurpreet Purewal email@example.com +44 (0)20 7354 6029
Contributors: Erica Basnicki, Carmen Cansino, Rob Lane, Ian McMurray, Steve Montgomery,Neil Voce
Sales executive: Mark Walsh firstname.lastname@example.org +44 (0)20 3871 7377 US sales – Executive vice president: Adam Goldstein email@example.com Designer: Tom Carpenter firstname.lastname@example.org
Special thanks: Ginny Goudy, Kellie Hasbury,The ISE Daily reporting team Cover image: LURE Restaurant & Bar, Delta Hotels Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort, British Columbia, courtesy of Primacoustic
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Close to zero – but how close?
f you watch any TV at all, you’ll probably at some point have seen commercials for anti-ageing skincare products. The way these ads are worded interests me – partly because of how what they say is subtly different from what they imply. These creams and potions are said to “reduce the appearance of wrinkles”, rather than eliminating them completely. And they leave the skin “appearing visibly younger” – presumably conﬁrming that the effect resides in the eye of the beholder rather than being felt in the face of the consumer. Why, I hear you cry, is he going on about face creams? It’s because there is an issue in our industry where I think we could beneﬁt from manufacturers being clearer in their choice of words. It’s in the area of Paddy Baker, Editor latency, particularly with regard to AV-over-IP equipment. firstname.lastname@example.org ‘No latency’ or ‘zero latency’ are phrases that I really dislike. Every @install8ion stage in a signal processing chain takes a ﬁnite amount of time, and to imply otherwise is disingenuous. Of course, it sounds good: ‘zero’ is neater and stronger to say than ‘near-zero’. And, it might be argued, surely we all know that it can’t actually be zero, so what they mean is ‘effectively zero’, or ‘as close as makes no difference’? Well, maybe, but surely the point is that it’s the customer who should make the judgement about whether or not it is signiﬁcant. ‘Zero frame latency’ – latency less than the time it takes to render a single frame – is greatly preferable, to my mind, as it’s quantiﬁable and doesn’t sound like hyperbole.
‘I do call on everyone to consider carefully the words they use to describe the performance of equipment in this area’
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Am I just being pedantic here? It is, I’ll admit, one of my less appealing character traits. But I think this is an important distinction to make, not least because there is confusion in the market about the different kinds of signals that different types of network can support. At ISE, the SDVoE Alliance was demonstrating that it’s not possible to send AV and IT data across the same 1Gbps network. (Incidentally, the Alliance has used ‘zero-millisecond latency’ in its own marketing materials; I would much prefer ‘sub-millisecond’.) I’m not accusing anyone of deliberately seeking to mislead, but I do call on everyone to consider carefully the words they use to describe the performance of equipment in this area. It could be an important step in removing some of the confusion that exists in the market. After all – we’re worth it.
here’s just enough space left for me to congratulate Duncan Proctor, who has just been promoted to deputy editor on Installation and our sister title AV Technology Europe. Duncan joined us more than three years ago as staff writer, rising to senior staff writer about 18 months ago. His new role reﬂects his increasing knowledge of and immersion in the pro AV market, and his greater involvement in the day-to-day running of this brand. Well done, Duncan!
Viewpoints 06 Regional Voices: Spain 08 Opinion Rob Lane discusses what made ISE 2018 the best yet Neil Voce on voice alarm systems with pro audio capability
Industry Events 14 InstallAwards 16 Show review: ISE 2018 22 ISE 2018 interview Three executives from the newly formed integrator Kinly talk about the company’s approach to the market
Special Report: acoustic environments 24 Turn down, tune in, crop out In our first setting we look at how the sound can be improved in the corporate world, where it is typically not a priority 28 The best sound in every seat We consider what the challenges are when trying to balance the different stakeholder interests in concert halls and auditoriums 32 Making food sound better To improve the overall experience for diners, we reveal the options on the sound control menu in restaurants?
Feature 36 AV career development Often overshadowed by the IT and technology industries, we assess what can be done to improve the attraction and retention of talent
Solutions 38 Little BIG City, Berlin A miniature recreation of Berlin’s key landmarks and historic events uses projection, displays and audio to bring its detailed scale models to life 40 Bal Blomet, Paris This refurbished dance hall has been turned into an intimate live music venue 42 Winter Olympics, PyeongChang The light show at the Opening Ceremony set a new world record with more than 1,200 illuminated drones 44 Solutions in Brief Including an immersive cocktail experience; a Panamanian hotel’s security system; and a projection spectacular telling the story of Jerusalem
Technology 47 New Products Including Engage Works, Panasonic, Kramer and Yamaha 52 Showcase Furniture and mounts
06 REGIONAL VOICES
SPAIN ‘Steady as she goes’ is the overwhelming picture we get from our latest survey of national installed AV markets
hile only around a quarter of our Spanish survey sample thought that levels of conﬁdence within the ﬁxed AV installation sector were higher now than six months ago, nearly all of the remainder felt they were the same – hardly any felt that they were falling. A similar picture of modest conﬁdence emerged in what we were told about projected revenues: nearly three-ﬁfths of respondents
GDP annual growth rate, January 2018 Source: Trading Economics
believed that their company’s revenue would increase over the coming 12 months, while less than one in 10 thought that the opposite would happen. Turning now to trends in vertical sectors, a familiar pattern emerged, with digital signage, retail and corporate the most strongly performing areas, and bars, clubs and restaurants, sports venues, and houses of worship at the other end of the table. It was noticeable that, while most sectors’ rankings are determined by the balance of positive to negative votes, worship received a ‘no change’ verdict from a large majority of respondents. Asked to choose from a list of six issues the one that caused most concern in the context of their business, around two-thirds
of respondents made one of two choices (in roughly equal proportions). The ﬁrst of these was falling margins: “The economic situation, and also new global players, are affecting margins dramatically,” said one distributor. The other factor was the tendency of customers to choose low price over good value. “For 10 years now the ﬁrst concern for a customer has been price. And I still don’t see a trend where service or best performance gets a better priority,” said another. While more people believed the total number of companies active in the market was increasing rather than decreasing, it was their counterparts on the other side of the argument who left the more telling comments. For example, one integrator said: “Our market is becoming more concentrated: large companies are buying
Budget deficit (as fraction of GDP), 2016 Source: Trading Economics
different brands and/or smaller companies, [and there have been] mergers of distributors, bankruptcies of small and medium players. Fortunately...the market is growing after a long period of stagnation.” Finally, we also received some interesting comments about how people would change the way the Spanish installed AV market works. One consultant said: “12-hour workdays must end. Work with more people but less hours.”
What will be the business trend in the following vertical markets this year?
INCREASE Digital signage Retail Corporate Performing arts venues Museums/visitor attractions Education Bars, clubs, restaurants Sports venues Worship NO CHANGE
LAMP FREE LASER PROJECTORS WUXGA / 4K / 8K RESOLUTION 20,000 ILLIMINATION 1-CHIP & 3-CHIP DLP
M-Vision Laser 18K projectors at Tower of David, Jerusalem
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The Visionaries Choice
08 OPINION: ON THE AGENDA
Rob Lane Bigger, better, more exciting Why ISE 2018 was the best yet
nother year, another ISE – and boy, what an ISE! We now know that a total of 80,923 people visited the exhibition over the four days, a 10.3% jump on last year’s record-breaking attendance. This sits alongside ﬁgures for exhibitors (1,296) and ﬂoor space (53,000sqm across 15 halls) enabling us to say with conﬁdence that this was the biggest ISE yet. It certainly felt like it; the buzz at the RAI was obvious from the minute the show opened. But it was Day 2 that really set the benchmark – it was heaving! Everyone was talking about how they’d never seen so many people coming through the doors, and at one point the organisers had to close the main entrance, and divert people to other access points.
groundbreaking technologies can step beyond the experiential into the practical. There were several practical applications for VR and AR (in the XR Technology Zone), along with AI and robotics (the Drone Arena was of particular interest here), while Italian architect Fabio D’Agnano’s presentation at the XR Summit on Day 1 set the scene not only for ISE 2018 but for future events.
‘One could argue that more architects and designers should be beating a path to Amsterdam’
Highlights It’s impossible to do ISE justice in a show report feature, let alone a monthly opinion column, but it’s worth rounding up a few of the highlights as I saw them. For me, the opening address by Carlo Ratti, architect and director of MIT’s Senseable Cities Lab, set the scene nicely. Speaking at the end of the Smart Building Conference the day before ISE kicked off, Ratti discussed how traditional cities are transforming into smart cities, and how technology and associated industries are driving a transformation that will lead to a “richer, beneﬁcial and more experiential life”. This ethos, of course, could be applied to most of what was exhibited at ISE 2018. Wherever you looked, intelligent tech was in abundance. Of course, some technologies are still to prove their usefulness chops – step forward VR! – but again, ISE was able to show just how today’s
According to D’Agnano, at least two-thirds of architectural practices are now experimenting with VR, and are using it across the design, construction and maintenance stages, and that real-time rendering – enabling architects and clients to do virtual site visits – is less than “a couple of years away”. (I would argue that this capability already exists: I wrote about a solution on page 38 of February’s Installation.) It’s clear that ISE 2018 and the technologies and services it champions is an essential platform for all building-related technologies – whether commercial or residential, in-building or for-building. It might be the exhibition pilgrimage for AV integrators, distributors and technologists, but one could argue that more architects and designers should be beating a path to Amsterdam also.
Behind the scenes The people working behind the scenes at ISE deserve a huge pat on the back. Most attendees won’t give a second thought to the huge amounts of work that takes place in the weekend leading up to Day 1, when the exhibitors descend upon the RAI to start building their stands. I can conﬁrm that it is no mean task working to get stand and tech aligned and working. Frankly it amazes me that everyone is ready on time, with carpets down and vacuumed. In recognition of this, ISE 2018 featured the second annual ISE Stand Design awards. Somewhat overlooked last year, this year’s awards was very well executed and the awards ceremony well attended. ISE managing director Mike Blackman introduced the awards, which conﬁrmed 33 ﬁnalists (out of 1,200+ stands!) in four categories, before the winning stands were unveiled by EXHIBITOR magazine. Indeed, a big pat on the back is long overdue to all of the magazines and their teams who add value to the ISE experience. The ISE Daily, of course, deserves huge plaudits. Overseen by the team who produce this very mag, the amount of work that goes into getting a broadsheet publication out every day at the show is incredible. With an expected 98% of exhibition space for ISE 2019 booked before this year’s show closed its doors, next year’s event is almost guaranteed to be a success. If it can, again, better its predecessor on numbers and create the same kind of excitement as 2018 remains to be seen. I’ll certainly be there to ﬁnd out. Bigger Boat PR owner/director Rob Lane has been writing about AV technology since 1995.
The IP KVM People
10 OPINION: ON THE AGENDA
Neil Voce Enabling Dante within EN54 environments How to design a voice alarm system with the ﬂexibility and quality of pro-audio
hen EN54 certification became mandatory for fire detection and fire alarm equipment in 2013, the range of audio products available was small and aimed primarily at voice reproduction. In the last five years, EN54 systems have become more acceptable, but they are still limited when addressing the requirements of a flexible venue such as a large hotel, exhibition centre or stadium. The introduction of hybrid EN54/Dante solutions offers the opportunity in large-scale, multi-application venues to remove boundaries between what have previously been two separate systems – EN54 voice evacuation systems and pro-audio systems – without compromising performance or safety. Until now, stadiums in particular have struggled to source fully EN54-compliant voice evacuation systems, mainly due to issues around delivering the required 105dB at listener positions in the crowd seating area or ‘bowl’ when using traditional EN54-compliant battery-backed amplifiers. These amplifiers have been used to drive circuits of multiple 100V line loudspeakers rather than individual large point-source or
line-array loudspeakers. Stadium projects also require flexibility in performance functionality, with different modes of operation for different events, including comprehensive live mixing facilities for staged events.
‘A hybrid EN54/Dante system provides EN54-compliant solutions to all zones of stadia and large venues’
A hybrid EN54/Dante system used in such an environment delivers on all fronts. It provides EN54-compliant solutions to all zones of stadia and large venues, with the flexible programmability and functionality required. This is also the case for large hotel complexes. Often it is a requirement within the architecturally considered front of house areas, such as ballrooms, for loudspeaker installations to be minimised. Here it is more acceptable for one set of speakers to manage
ASL’s VIPEDIA-PRO features the Dante Brooklyn chipset from Audinate
the dual roles of sound reinforcement and voice evacuation.
The technology Adding a Dante Brooklyn chipset to a voice evacuation router with flexible IP networking allows us to approach the Dante element of an environment as a ‘layer’ of functionality above and on top of core EN54 capabilities. EN54 system technology requires a set of distributed voice alarm routers, such as the ASL VIPEDIA, to be connected via a 1Gb ﬁbre dedicated dual redundant network, running Rapid Spanning Tree Protocol (RSTP), to provide diverse routing in the event of cable failure. Fire service microphones and connections to the ﬁre detection panel are connected to the routers to trigger evacuation messages or sequences of pre-recorded messages. Non-Dante IP paging microphones for standard paging and remote controls for volume and source selection in zones are also commonly used. Audio outputs of the voice alarm routers are connected to EN54 amplifiers, for example ASL V2000, which in turn connect to EN54-24 loudspeakers. Available EN54 loudspeakers now cover a broad spectrum of passive pointsource devices, from a small 100mm ceiling loudspeaker to a 500W horn-loaded multi-way loudspeaker (such as the Community R2). EN54 amplifiers use twin power sources, typically mains and 24VDC, and monitor all signal paths and loudspeaker lines in accordance with EN54 and national standards such as BS5839 part 8. With Dante layers added to EN54 solutions we can connect components normally associated
Science meets artistry. d&b Soundscape is a toolkit for sound engineers and audio specialists alike. It is designed to deepen the connection between audience and artist, enveloping both in an intense realm of emotion and imagination. En-Scene and En-Space – the d&b Soundscape modules – are driven by the DS100 Signal Engine. This revolutionary audio system processor makes it SRVVLEOHWRVFXOSWDQ\VSDFHWRVXLWSUHFLVHDFRXVWLFVSHFLÀFDWLRQV7KH modules allow for object-based mixing and positioning of up to sixty-four sound objects in order to create authentic audio realities.
OPINION: ON THE AGENDA
with pro-audio solutions such as ‘live’ mixing desks, separate high power ampliﬁers for subbass loudspeakers (where frequencies do not contribute to intelligibility ratings for EN54 compliancy), active Dante input plates, line array loudspeakers and more. Dante-enabled mixing desks are able to contribute scene setting and presets, and offer the ability to control systems from devices such as smartphones and tablets around in the venue. In situations where designers may require a larger number of Dante channels than a 1Gb secure VA link between voice alarm routers can provide, a separate 10Gb link between Dante devices can be provided for the multichannel aspect, with links to hook across only the number of actual channels required for VA transmission at various VA router locations. To ensure voice evacuation messages are delivered with maximum clarity and intelligibility within the context of overall system performance, base EN54 systems are required to be set up for the venue with room equalisation and delay. Engineers looking for a different
equalisation setting from their feeds into the system, for example for a foreground music system with a different EQ curve, simply need to compensate from how the EN54 system is set.
Present limits of EN54 Tests and certifications for Dante transmission or for active loudspeakers are not present in the current version of EN54; the standard is currently being revised. By looking at what can be monitored with these hybrid systems, we can contribute to the revision of the EN54 standards. It is possible to monitor the Dante clocks within the Brooklyn chipset in the ASL VIPEDIA voice-alarm router to ensure the chipset is running. Data sent over the secure EN54 link route between VA routers can be CRC error checked to validate data packets. This provides security in internal transmission. When the EN54 system is receiving inputs from external Dante sources, we can request the Dante source is conﬁgured to transmit a 20kHz tone continuously. We can monitor
the arrival of this tone in the VA router; by checking this periodically in accordance with VA standards we can conﬁrm the link between the Dante source and VA router is intact and the transmitting device is powered up and alive. When transmitting outputs to Dante, monitoring isn’t often considered but with some product and software development it would undoubtedly be possible to monitor connections. We can use Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) capture from external devices to check for faults in the system. These can be relayed through the EN54 voice alarm reporting system for fault logging. Normal procedures for passing the fault log on detection to the system maintainer can be followed. Neil Voce is head of business development at ASL (Application Solutions Ltd).
14 INSTALL AWARDS 2018
Be a part of our biggestever awards programme
We have new categories for the Install Awards 2018. Here’s the information you need to get your entries in!
e’re very pleased to announce that entries for the Install Awards 2018 are now open. Since their launch in 2014, the Install Awards have been growing consistently. We return to last year’s venue, the Millennium Gloucester in central London for the 2018 event, on Thursday 28 June. This year we have an expanded set of award categories. As always, at the heart of the awards are the outstanding installation projects from the past 12 months (March 2017 to February 2018), and the people and products that enabled them to shine. With the exception of the Hall of Fame Awards, all awards will be judged by an independent panel of experts drawn from across the industry. Project Excellence Awards In the Project Excellence Awards, there are six categories that you can enter. • Education Project of the Year • Corporate/Industrial Project of the Year • Retail and DOOH Project of the Year • Hospitality Project of the Year • Visitor Attraction Project of the Year • Venue Project of the Year Technology Excellence Awards We have expanded the technology categories for our 2018 Awards. As in previous years, we’re looking for evidence of how products have contributed to the success of one or more
installation projects, rather than judging them purely on their technical specs. There are six categories: • AV-IT Product of the Year • Audio Product of the Year • Display/Projection Product of the Year • Collaboration Product of the Year • Signal Management/Distribution Product of the Year • AV Accessory of the Year Company and Individual Excellence Awards We have some familiar categories and some new ones in this section. • Integrator of the Year: recognising the most successful and distinctive systems integration businesses • Distributor of the Year: rewarding innovation and business success in the channel • Manufacturer of the Year: for the manufacturer that has made the biggest impression on the market this year • Rising Star: recognising the potential of promising newcomers to the industry – either under 30 or with less than three years’ experience. Entrants can work for integrators, consultants, distributors or manufacturers • Hall of Fame Award for Outstanding Achievement by a Company • Hall of Fame Award for Outstanding Achievement by an Individual Entries are encouraged for all the above categories, with the exception of the Hall of Fame
Awards, which will be decided by the team here at Installation. How to enter Entry and eligibility criteria for each category can be viewed on the Install Awards website. All the categories are free to enter, but must be submitted through our online portal. Rather than having to complete your entries in one go, you can return to an entry any time up to the closing date and amend it – polishing the text, or adding pictures or other supplementary information. Entries are password-protected so you can be conﬁdent that they won’t be seen by anyone unauthorised. Don’t delay – entries close at midnight on Wednesday 4 April.
Sponsorship opportunities To find out more about sponsoring this event, contact Gurpreet Purewal on email@example.com / +44 (0)20 7354 6029 or Mark Walsh on firstname.lastname@example.org +44 (0)20 3871 7377.
Tickets For tickets and table bookings, please contact Johanna O’Brien on email@example.com / +44 (0)20 7354 6031 or visit the Install Awards website. www.installawards.com
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16 SHOW REVIEW: ISE 2018
Where the industry comes together Fifteen years old, and occupying ﬁfteen halls, ISE once again smashed the records – for visitors, for exhibitors and for ﬂoor space. Here are some of the most signiﬁcant products that were on show there
ome day, we will report on an ISE show that didn’t set a new record for exhibition space and attendance – but that day is not today. ISE 2018 attracted 80,923 visitors, 10.3% more than came to the show in 2017. (And at 1,296, the exhibitor ﬁgure was about 100 more than last year.) The Friday attendance was nearly 20,000 – suggesting that more visitors are taking the ﬁnal day of the show more seriously. However, that didn’t stop Wednesday – always the peak day when ISE was a three-day exhibition – from attracting crowds that many thought made the show more congested than ever before. The show saw many new events, spread throughout the week, which doubtless led to some smoothing out of attendance over the four days of the show. While the XR Summit took place on the Tuesday, the blooloopLIVE conference – covering night-time events in the visitor attraction industry – took place on the Friday, as did the Awards Ceremony for the World Masters of Projection Mapping. This competition was a signiﬁcant ﬁrst, as it took place in central
Amsterdam – it involved video artworks projected onto a building in the old docks quarter – and so will have raised awareness of the show among the wider population of the Dutch capital. Here is a short summary of some of the key new releases exhibited at ISE 2018. Once again, we will be publishing a digital supplement later this month, with added video content, that will enable us to go into much more detail about the exhibition, conferences and other events that took place during that week in Amsterdam.
Projection Acer’s new V6820i 4K UHD projector is among the ﬁrst of its kind to support Amazon Alexa. Users are able to control the projector with voice commands such as “Alexa, turn on the projector,” “Alexa, select HDMI as the projector source,” or “Alexa, change projector display mode to bright.” The V6820i offers a 4K UHD resolution display, is compatible with HDR and Rec. 2020 signals, and supports the Rec. 709 standard for cinemalike colour accuracy. It also supports HDMI 3D for 3D home cinema experiences. The projector’s AcuMotion frame interpolation system ensures visuals are ultra-smooth even in fast-moving scenes, claims Acer. Epson launched a new family of entry-level installation laser projectors. The high-end EB-L615U, EB-L610U, EB-L510U and low-end EB-L400U are 5,000-6,000 lumen models designed to replace existing lamp-based projectors. High-end models offer features such
as lens shift, HDBaseT, screen mirroring and a cable cover, while the more basic models don’t include these features. Target markets include corporate meeting rooms, large teaching spaces in higher education and visitor attractions. Among the projectors on show from Casio was the XJ-L8300HN, the company’s ﬁrst 4K projector, based on DLP technology and featuring 5,000 lumens brightness with a resolution of 3840 x 2,160 pixels. Casio says that its Large Venue Series has been particularly popular with higher education and schools looking to introduce 4K to larger audiences across their halls and lecture theatres. The laser and LED hybrid light source across Casio’s projector range is said to deliver an extremely low total cost of ownership. New from AV Stumpﬂ was the T-32 Shift – a mobile projection screen that takes less than ﬁve minutes to assemble, and whose height can be adjusted simply by one person. No extra measuring is needed to ensure that the frame is level, due to a clearly marked height scale. The T-32 Shift is compatible with AV Stumpﬂ’s Monoblox32 and MonoClip32 projection screen frames.
Displays and digital signage Samsung was showing its modular MicroLED display technology in a massive display dubbed ‘The Wall’ and measuring 146in in size. The Wall is described as the industry’s ﬁrst self-emitting modular display to operate through micrometre-scale LEDs, which serve as their own light source and eliminate the need for colour
ﬁlters or backlights. The result is very high brightness, a broad, high-volume colour gamut, and deep blacks. Barix introduced the third generation of AudioPoint, an audio signage platform that brings together digital signage, TV content and BYOD. It can deliver audio associated with video content to mobile devices over a local WiFi connection. It’s based on a new hardware platform, engineered by Barix, that builds the channel server into the Barix Audio Signage Encoder to signiﬁcantly reduce cost and integration time. The encoder supports both single and multi-channel audio streaming for up to 250 simultaneous users. BrightSign introduced the ﬁrst of its Series 4 signage players, XD4 and XT4. Four models in the BrightSign Series 4 range are newly designed to support Dolby Vision and deliver BrightSign’s fastest performance to date through upgraded processing power. The XD234 and XD1034 will replace the current XD Series 3 models and XT244 and XT1144 will replace the current XT Series 3 line. As before, the XT line will support PoE and XT1144 supports HDMI In to deliver Live TV to end-points either via an HDMI cable or streaming over a network.
SHOW REVIEW: ISE 2018 X visitors. Additional guides or interpreters can also be integrated into the system; a total of three people can simultaneously talk and be transmitted. Guided tours can also be enhanced through accompanying music, by original soundtracks or by the sound from a media column. Unite uses the DECT standard, so the system can be used without certiﬁcation and licence fees. RCF was showing its comprehensive range of EN54-24 certiﬁed products. The latest additions are four speakers for ceiling/panel mounting or wall mounting. The PL series are ceiling speakers, designed for recess installation in false ceilings or panels and featuring a ﬂameproof protection dome. The PL 50EN and PLP 50EN are wideband speakers, while the PL 82EN is a two-way coaxial ceiling model. The RCF MR 52EN is a compact, two-way loudspeaker, intended for use in both alarm and business music systems. A thermal fuse protects the integrity of the line in case of heat affecting the speaker, and all the internal cables feature ﬂameproof leads. Also promoting EN54-24 certiﬁed product was ic audio. Inspired by the look of contemporary LED lights, its new 6W voice alarm speakers feature a frameless design. The DL-SE ceiling speakers are available with a 130mm or 165 mm full-range speaker, while the square-design DL-SQ provides the same clear, balanced sound through a 130mm speaker. All models in this design series offer a high-quality 100V transformer with three power tappings, and a sturdy metal housing. Powersoft launched the Duecanali 804 and Duecanali 4804, a two-channel ampliﬁer platform with optional DSP and Dante for the ﬁxed install market. The company describes them as being
Audio ClearOne debuted the Ceiling Microphone Array Analog X at ISE 2018. The new model joins the original ClearOne Ceiling Microphone Array series and is said to be suitable for conferencing and sound reinforcement applications in any size of room. The new model features numbered micelements for easy identiﬁcation, an LED indicator for On/Off/Mute, and the ability to daisy chain up to four ceiling microphone arrays to make twelve microphone systems. It is 100% shielded from any kind of interference, features a higher signal-to-noise-ratio, can to be installed anywhere from zero to up to 2.1m from the ceiling, and is optimised for speech intelligibility. beyerdynamic launched the Unite digital wireless communication system, which offers new options for guided tours. Its talkback function means visitors’ questions can be transmitted via the system, making tours interactive and creating a dialogue with
particularly suited to leisure and retail spaces. The Duecanali 4804 provides 2 x 2400W at 4 ohms, a power output suitable for a wide range of projects for small to medium-size installations. The Duecanali 804 offers 2 x 400W and represents a lower total power solution for installations in retail, as well as bars and restaurants where a single two-channel ampliﬁer is the requirement, without the need for additional channels or power. The products are available in standard or DSP+D versions, which extend system performance with onboard high-end signal processing and Dante digital audio distribution. While best known as a manufacturer
of loudspeakers for studio and broadcast applications, Genelec was promoting its increased focus on the AV installation market – where it has had signiﬁcant success within Scandinavia. The company has a range of in-wall, in-ceiling and IP-based speakers as well as its better known freestanding or wall mounted models. Marketing and PR director Howard Jones explained that target markets include top-end retail, boardrooms, restaurants, bars, museums and galleries: “Wherever audio quality is at a premium”.
Networking and connectivity KVM specialist Adder Technology unveiled its ADDERLink Inﬁnity 100T unit – a ‘zero U’ IP-based KVM for video, audio and USB – on day one of the show. Billed as ‘the world’s smallest highperformance KVM transmitter’ the unit can be plugged into the back of any computer, meaning it takes up zero rack space. It is powered over USB, consuming around 2W of power. It works with the ADDERLink INFINITY Manager and ADDERLink INFINITY receivers. Aurora Multimedia showed its HT Series of HDBaseT 2.0 products. These can transmit 4K60 4:4:4 18Gbps HDMI 2.0/HDCP2.2 a distance of 100m over a single unshielded Cat cable, with no quality compromise and with zero frame latency. All the products have an integrated web server for remote IP control, USB 2.0 with directional control, and the world’s ﬁrst Dante option for 2- or 8-channel Dante, the company says. Also, the HT Series can power both TX and RX from a single port on a PoE switch, eliminating external power supplies. Visionary Solutions was showing its platform for delivering Dante connectivity for video. The PacketAV Duet Encoder and Decoder deliver visually lossless, ultra-low latency 4K UHD video and Dante over Gigabit Ethernet, harnessing the ﬂexibility and scalability of converged IP networks. Scott Freshman, chief operating officer at Visionary Solutions, said: “This is video for audio pros. If you know how to use Dante for audio, you know how to use PacketAV Duet for video. It really does change everything.” tvONE launched the CORIOview 4K multiwindow processor, which handles up to eight sources. Designed for ease of use and plug-andplay operation, CORIOview features auto-layout functionality which automates preset selection. For more advanced applications, users can take full control via the unit’s front panel, which gives access to user-deﬁnable or pre-programmable presets, video and audio switching. An info button displays on-screen information about the source and window selection. Barco was showing its Enterprise Virtual Matrix solution, which offers IP-based uncompressed video, audio and USB switching. The Enterprise Virtual Matrix, the company claims, brings 20
18 SHOW REVIEW: ISE 2018
NewBay Best of Show Awards at ISE 2018 Installation was once again running its Best of Show Awards at ISE, which received a record number of entries this year. Thank you to our judges and congratulations to all the winners.
Dynacord – IPX series This range of multi-channel power ampliﬁers incorporates OMNEO IP networking architecture and audio performance for ﬁxed install venues.
Bose – EdgeMax Featuring PhaseGuide technology, EdgeMax in-ceiling loudspeakers project high-frequency sound throughout rooms up to 20m-wide using only perimeter mounting locations.
Edbak – ERM100 This electric ﬂat screen wall mount for recessed installations brings robust quality, tool-less micro adjustment, and a contactless electric pop-out mechanism to access each display in the videowall.
Canon – WUX7000Z
Holovis – LearnView LearnView is a software suite created to simulate training scenarios and bring complex datasets to life in real-time for the user. This can be experienced through a networked, free roaming VR set-up (as demoed at ISE) or within a CAVE. Kramer – CAHM The latest addition to Kramer’s cable offering, CAHM is claimed to be the industry’s ﬁrst active HDMI copper cable running 18Gbps up to 20m. It provides a perfect solution for delivering 4K60 4:4:4 HDMI 2.0 signals over long distances.
Like its other newly launched models, the WUX7000Z laser projector features a revamped, compact design and higher luminance. It also includes Canon’s new optical system, AISYS 4.2 and LCOS reﬂective panel technology. Cleerline – SSF-CLEER900 The new SSF-CLEER900 ﬁbre optic cable is a single strand of SSF 0.25mm ﬁbre contained within a 0.9mm transparent jacket. The cable can be routed and placed inconspicuously along baseboards or ceilings, up walls, or directed anywhere for easy indoor point-to-point cable placement.
LD Systems – MAUI P900 The future of pro audio design according to the company, the MAUI P900 active column PA system combines state-of-the-art technology with iconic design and exclusive materials. Leon Speakers – Horizon Interactive FIT Unlike other soundbars, the Horizon Interactive FIT not only delivers high-ﬁdelity audio, but also provides internal storage space to discreetly house a variety of small format AV components. Middle Atlantic – Proximity Series
SHOW AWARDS 2018
WINNER Media Solutions – MS-TestPro An affordable solution for in-the-ﬁeld testing of HDBaseT based systems and cabling, the MS-TestPro includes built-in monitoring, logging and diagnostics. Seloy Live – SENSE SENSE is a combination of a transparent insulating glass unit and interactive touch foil surface. Available in any size up to 3 x 6m and suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. Showlogix – Showrunner This show control and multi-display software platform features is an all-in-one system for creating immersive shows at amusement parks, museums, exhibitions, visitor centres etc. Shure – MXCW Microﬂex Complete Wireless System is an integrated audio system for conferences and meetings. With maximum scalability and features, it is suitable for structured discussions that follow an agenda.
Crestron – DigitalMedia 4K60 4:4:4 This HDR network AV encoder/decoder transports UHD 4K60 4:4:4: video over standard gigabit Ethernet. Support for HDR video (HDR10) and HDCP 2.2 ensures picture quality and compatibility for today’s varied media sources.
SiliconCore – Z.A.C.H After three years of research and development, SiliconCore launched a new LED driver chip to its range of LED displays. Z.A.C.H enhances the dynamic range and colour ﬁdelity of the picture.
Crestron – XiO Cloud The XiO Cloud platform provides IT managers with a centralised tool that enables them to deploy and manage 100 or 1,000 devices in the same amount of time as it would to manage just one.
Symetrix – SymVue Designed to control various Symetrix DSPs, this is a network-resident application supporting custom GUIs authored using Symetrix Composer, running on Symetrix Control Server hardware.
D-Tools – Mobile Quote 2.0 A native iPad companion app for the D-Tools System Integrator (SI) platform, it has been redesigned for a more intuitive, expedient, and visually impactful experience.
In a ﬁrst for the industry, Middle Atlantic debuted the Proximity Series Sliding Mounting Plate. It has been designed to solve the growing complexity of supporting decentralised systems in residential applications providing integrators with an AV storage offering that delivers more access to residential AV systems.
WolfVision – vSolution MATRIX An AVoIP collaboration solution, vSolutions MATRIX uses multiple Cynap / Cynap Core units to stream video and audio between multiple screens using existing network infrastructure.
20 SHOW REVIEW: ISE 2018 the virtual matrix concept to the next level for use cases where no compromise can be made in latency, image quality or functionality, including high-resolution 3D and multi-projector synchronised set-ups. Merging Technologies announced enhancements to Aneman, described as the ﬁrst cross-platform and cross-vendor audio network manager for audio-over-IP applications. Aneman allows the connection, monitoring and management of networked audio devices, particularly AES67, and as an open solution it
Q&A: Rashid Skaf, president and CEO of Biamp
allows new manufacturers to adapt it to their speciﬁc devices. The basic version, downloadable free, is designed to control any network featuring Merging Technologies devices, plus other partners’ equipment. ISE 2018 saw the launch of the Enterprise version, which can offer this capability to other manufacturers’ products, as well as the ability to manage larger networks. Audinate was showing Dante IP Core, a soft IP solution for audio manufacturers. This allows OEMs working with FPGA-based designs to add Dante audio connectivity to AV products at a lower cost and with greater ﬂexibility than ever before. According to the company, development teams can save time, reduce BOM costs and minimise their internal footprint by using a single FPGA to implement both product applications and Dante audio networking. Dante IP Core is claimed to run efficiently alongside OEM product applications such as ASRC, audio encryption, and signal processing on a range of Xilinx FPGAs. This provides channel counts up to 512 x 512 with ultra-low latency and sub-microsecond synchronisation.
Uniﬁed comms and collaboration Since the last ISE, which you attended with AMX, you’ve moved to Biamp. How do you think the show has changed? I was convinced to join the first ISE ever by our friends at Lutron and Michael Blackman who all asked me to do a personal favour and, I have to say, I viewed it at that point as just not wanting to do one more trade show, I was trade showed-out. I’m glad I did join the first one and I’ve been to every single one since then so I have not missed an ISE. And my last one I came here as an investor with Highlander Partners and the one before that I was looking around just to see what was going on, as an independent person, and I have to say that the show never disappoints. Michael and his whole team have done an amazing job with the show growing it year over year and it’s just gone from strength to strength. There’s never been a negative that I’ve seen with this show. Where else do you think the show can go? More halls? A fifth day? I go back to my original answer of ‘I’m trade showed-out’ I don’t need another day, five days is way too much and even the fourth day typically is relatively slow and I’m not sure that it has tremendous value – I’m not sure that the fourth day was what I would have done. This doesn’t mean that I don’t like what they have done; their whole organisation has done a good job. I don’t think that is the way you’re going to expand it, you need to expand the value now. I don’t think more volume equals more value; and they’ve done that every year. I would continue to focus on bringing in end-user customers that really pay all of our salaries at the end of the day – that pay the channel, whether it’s consultant or integrator or manufacturer – the endusers are ultimately the ones that drive the demand. So bringing more end-users and making it valuable for them to be able to see all of this is key for the future.
NewTek was showing the NDI HX, described as the world’s ﬁrst network device interface (NDI) pan/tilt/zoom camera with video, audio, PTZ control, tally and power via one standard Ethernet cable. This 20x zoom IP video camera can transmit full 3G 1080p 60 video directly to NDI-compatible products across a standard network. ZeeVee was demonstrating Meeting Room in a Box – a complete starter kit that allows ‘painfree’ installation of an AV over IP solution. By leveraging ZeeVee’s Zyper4K AV over IP signal distribution solution, the new kit is said to allow customers to distribute uncompressed 4K video with minimal installation and conﬁguration time. Bob Michaels, ZeeVee CEO, commented: “A complex control system is not required because the ZyPer MaestroZ interface allows control from any device on the ZyPer network, and includes admin rights. Up to three sources can be switched to two screens and expanded up to eight more devices.” The ZyPer4K meeting room starter kit can be adapted to connect multiple meeting rooms. Samsung’s Flip is a portable display that is designed to replace the traditional ﬂipchart. The display’s embedded hall, proximity and accelerometer sensors immediately activate the system as participants approach or lift a corresponding writing tool. Users can enjoy a smooth, natural writing experience comparable to that of a pen and paper, with up to four participants able to make notes at the same time. For added versatility, the display remains compatible with multiple writing
Q&A: Joe Rabah, managing director of EMEA at RMG Networks
Over the years that you have been attending ISE, firstly as a visitor and now as an exhibitor, you must have seen it change quite a bit. It has, I’ve always looked at ISE as a hub that will encompass the latest technology, but I never thought it would be that big. I’ve attended CES shows in the states and DSE; this is a different breed of people that come in. It’s not the retailers and all of that, it’s a mix of everybody and that’s the professional AV guys to the digital signage companies. I’ve never seen a hall dedicated to digital signage. And to be part of it is really invigorating because we’re competing in this space and you have 100 companies and you’re trying to show how yours stands out from the rest. You’re surrounded by all this new technology and yet you can’t really tell which is which until you get the chance to sit down and have a chance to speak to someone about it. tools and offers a variety of distinct font sizes, colours and textures. Crestron was showing version 2.0 of its AirMedia network-based wireless presentation technology. Built into popular Crestron presentation solutions, AirMedia 2.0 is said to deliver the fastest, easiest, most manageable and secure wireless presentation solution. It leverages the latest security protocols: 802.1x network access control; Active Directory user authentication; AES-128 content encryption; and SSH, SSL, TLS, and HTTPS. It frees people to sit or stand anywhere in the room or space and easily connect their smart devices and laptops to the room display, regardless of operating system. With a focus on optimising huddle room spaces, Lifesize was showing the Icon 450 HD camera. This is equipped with a smart-framing sensor that automatically pans, tilts and zooms to the optimal position. When new participants join the meeting, the sensor readjusts and centres the frame. The camera is compact enough to sit comfortably in small huddle room spaces, and uses an 82º wide-angle lens, capable of capturing all participants. Set-up is simple, says Lifesize, and the system updates its own software automatically through the Lifesize cloud-based service.
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22 SHOW REVIEW: ISE 2018
Connecting the physical and the digital worlds
A new name in collaboration was born at ISE 2018 – Kinly, formed from the merger of VisionsConnected and Viju. On the last morning of the the show, Paddy Baker spoke to three Kinly executives to ﬁnd out about the new company’s approach to the market – and why “technology is not the thing any more”
SE 2018 saw the launch of one of the world’s largest systems integration companies: Kinly – formed from the merger of VisionsConnected and Viju. This follows the acquisition of both companies by an investor last September. The combined company has a formidable global presence, as chief marketing officer Knut Bentzen explains: “We have offices in Scandinavia, and now the legal head office in Amsterdam, we are across the UK, we are on the east coast of the US – and will grow further in the US – and we’ve got offices in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Our own operational head office is not even a physical one, but a global CloudRoom. We have done projects in more than 120 countries across the world. We understand the nature of global business: we are used to dealing with challenges like Brazil, where there are 13 different states and customs between every one of them.”
Viju and VisionsConnected were both leading players in video communications, and so it’s not surprising that Kinly – whose company slogan is ‘Working together. Everywhere’ – is entirely devoted to collaboration projects.
‘We have several examples of solutions that don’t look like a standard meeting room, but are optimised for a speciﬁc purpose’
Chief solutions officer Raymond Alves – previously CEO of VisionsConnected – observes that, over the past 10 years, customer demands have changed. “There is a lot of collaboration within an organisation and between organisations and that collaboration does not
always work in a perfect manner. So we have been dealing with a lot of technological ﬁxes to make meetings run. And while doing that, we worked with a lot of partners – but at the end the customer was asking, ‘Can you take overall responsibility for all those meetings? I want to have one contact and one contract. What can you do?’ Now it’s getting interesting. “We found an investor and started to believe that this thing could work – meaning taking over all responsibility of meetings. Then basically we picked up the phone to Viju and said, we have something new, how about joining this party together? And if we do that, we need to elaborate on a new story – because technology is not the thing any more, the thing is how we make meetings run in an effective way.” According to Alves, there is a large opportunity for Kinly because of the fragmented nature of the integration market, particularly when it comes to serving multinational companies.
SHOW REVIEW: ISE 2018 23
“Take a global organisation in the fast-moving consumer world. They might have 40 to 50 different AV contractors across the globe. We’re talking about how teams should work efficiently together within the organisation and between their customers and partners. If all those different AV contractors make their own technology decisions about how it should work together – it’s a mess. “There is a long way to go, but if we have these international capabilities and the ambition to standardise in such a way that the technology works smoothly together, then we’re giving ourselves a good chance that we can win those contracts on a global level in the next contracting round. So let’s have this conversation next year, and I promise you, we will have some new announcements to make.”
Understanding users One of the refreshing things talking to the Kinly team is that they clearly understand that not all meetings are the same, and not all collaboration is the same. So rather than looking to impose a one-size-ﬁts-all solution, they seek to understand the users and their work before talking about technology. Bentzen talks about an ‘activity-based workspace’: “It’s not a standard meeting room where you go in and ﬁt your work process into the room. It’s kind of the opposite: different spaces and places that are optimised for a type of activity. We have several examples of solutions that don’t look like a standard meeting room, but are optimised for a speciﬁc purpose.” Collaboration consultant Magnus Lervåg explains: “It’s not only the technologies, how the room is built, furniture, chairs and everything. What are the stand-up activities, what are the sit-down activities? Is it something you want to do for a long time or a short period? Is it something that needs high focus? Should you be with people or alone? It’s stuff like that, so you can choose your own workplace based on your activity. It makes people think about what their task is and where to do it. To be able to create these spaces for people to work more efficiently, it’s really something.” Bentzen continues: “We have had such a wonderful response about this because I think a lot of people recognise themselves in the troubles of navigating this jungle of technology... People are working all different places these days, but they still physically need to be somewhere. That’s a physical workspace. And then you have the digital workspace with its endless possibilities. Our core goal is to make these two worlds – the physical and the digital – come together as one and create that seamless experience where you can work naturally. “One of the things that Magnus is working on
is helping customers to standardise and make this a consistent experience across the board.” A key point is that users should ﬁnd the experience simple and intuitive: Lervåg comments: “It should be easy, they should not be aware that it’s technology or equipment or hardware that’s doing this, it should feel natural. We work a lot on that.”
Using own technologies With multiple locations across the globe, Kinly is in a good position to use its own technologies – and thus work to improve the user experience. Bentzen mentions the old saying about the shoemaker’s children always being barefoot: “Well, in this family, the children are walking around in proper hiking boots. And that means that we also ﬁnd things out – whoops, that one gives me a blister when I walk on steep hills, so I need to change something – because we experience these problems ourselves.”
‘I think the keyboard will quite soon be something that we do not use any more’
So what are the tools and technologies that Kinly uses to create these tailored collaboration spaces? Bentzen comments: “It’s very tempting to start talking about some of the technologies that apply; and of course in many cases there is a camera involved because customers want videoconferencing. But we also do a lot that does not involve videoconferencing at all, it is about enhancing collaboration in that speciﬁc room… To answer your question, I have an almost inﬁnite toolbox of technology. Probably the most important tool that Magnus and his colleagues in the sales team and design teams use is our methodology to reveal what work process are you going to support? Which roles are involved in that work process? Where do they sit? How do they act, and what is the workﬂow? “We’re not McKinsey, but Kinly is focused on a data-driven approach because if we aren’t relevant to the line of business and the CFO, well, the user can like us as much as they want but they’re not going to be paying for our solutions.” He describes a recently launched initiative called Customer Success Services: “It’s about training and helping people in both using their plain solutions and also doing more scenariobased training for the more advanced solutions. We’re moving away from a situation where we installed, and if it was an on-time on-budget install, and support was secured, then ﬁne, thank you, our journey has ended, ﬁnd the next customer. That is now starting to become the
point in time where our journey starts, as we are in it every step of the way together with the client to make them succeed.”
Importance of touch Alongside the internet (and the cloud), Bentzen believes that the most signiﬁcant development of the past quart-century or so was “what Steve Jobs did when he taught us that we can touch our computer with our ﬁnger. So instead of using a keyboard – and I think the keyboard will quite soon be something that we do not use any more, it will be an anomaly in history that we used for a period of time – we will be using touch, voice recognition and other ways of entering and interacting with information into our data systems.” This feeds into an important part of Kinly’s design philosophy, and according to Bentzen, “the single tool we think will really make a difference.” He elaborates: “There’s no single piece of technology any modern person has spent more time learning to use than their phone. They’re just not aware of it, because they have it in their pocket and they use it constantly. That principle we’ve taken to the meeting room. The touchpanels that you will ﬁnd in our meeting rooms are just like a phone; the computers we put our interfaces on act like a phone, and we have developed an app that will help you use these solutions.” Thomas Edberg, senior director, cloud collaboration business development, gives me a quick demonstration of the app on his phone. Everything is controlled from a few cleanly designed screens: receiving a meeting invitation, accepting the invitation or requesting it be rescheduled; joining the meeting from a room (in which case the app will suggest nearby rooms, or rooms the user has used before); joining from a PC, in which case the app will use the appropriate communications platform if it is installed, or send a webRTC link if not; or joining from a mobile phone. It’s even possible to join from a physical room in a building that the user is visiting; and there is also an ‘audio only’ option for people who just want to listen in – maybe they have been caught up in traffic on their way to the meeting. There is also functionality for managing meetings, such as muting and unmuting participants, and inviting additional people to come into a meeting on an ad-hoc basis. There’s a great sense of optimism and conﬁdence coming from my interviewees, along with broad smiles that one doesn’t often see on the last morning of a major trade show. I look forward to seeing Alves’ prediction of major contract wins coming true.
24 SPECIAL REPORT: IMPROVING ACOUSTIC ENVIRONMENTS
Turn down, tune in, crop out For this month’s special report, we’re looking into how the acoustic environment can be improved in three very different settings. Later articles will cover auditoriums and restaurants, but to start us off, Ian McMurray turns an ear to the corporate world
e take good-quality sound pretty much for granted wherever we go. We typically only notice sound when it’s bad – poor PA announcements, for example, or intrusive noise in a working environment. Ensuring good-quality sound in the corporate environment has, however, not become easier over the years as row upon row of box-like offices and meeting rooms have given way to open spaces, informal huddle rooms and visually imaginative public areas. “We often visit corporate environments where acoustic considerations are taken into account too late or at the end of a project,” notes Hanieh Motamedian, business development manager at audio systems distributor Sound Directions. “This appears to occur often in open-plan office environments, where several different departments within an organisation might be sharing the same spaces. “As an example,” she goes on, “imagine a
team of software engineers, developing and writing code, sharing work space with telesales or customer services teams working within the same company. Of course, any telephone conversations will become a distraction to the software engineers. “Also,” Motamedian continues, “imagine a glass boardroom or meeting room amidst an open-plan office environment. It is likely that any conversations, potentially conﬁdential or private, taking place within the boardroom or meeting room will spill out into the open-plan office for colleagues to hear. In these situations, conﬁdentially and privacy are compromised; staff conﬁdence is also compromised. “Both examples represent situations which do occur if acoustic environments are not considered at an early stage,” she concludes.
Not enough consideration She also believes that offices are sometimes designed as beautiful workspaces, without
Key Points Acoustics impact staff morale, worker productivity, corporate security, individual safety and even, in a healthcare environment, patient outcomes Different spaces and use cases will always deliver/require different acoustics: there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution Increased usage of soft furnishings can have a substantial impact on mitigating the impact of noise For open-plan areas, sound masking solutions can be readily configured for a variety of environments to minimise intrusive noise Awareness and understanding of the specific characteristics of audio equipment such as speakers are imperative
SPECIAL REPORT: IMPROVING ACOUSTIC ENVIRONMENTS 25
enough consideration given to the needs of users or people working within them – resulting in people working with headphones, isolating themselves from workplace noises and distractions around them to improve individual productivity. As she points out: this appears to negate the collaborative benefits of open-plan environments. Marc Happes, who is product manager, uniﬁed communications at Bose Professional – and a former consultant and contractor – sees a similar phenomenon. “Aesthetics often seem to take precedence over room function,” he says, “with hard surfaces and specialised wall treatments being added to the room designs. Glass walls, sheet rock or open ceilings, tiled ﬂoors and high-end tabletop materials are modern-day architectural practices that are prone to delivering suboptimal acoustics.” “Hard walls and furniture – surfaces where reﬂections are possible – won’t create the best acoustic environment,” agrees Tom Colman, senior applications engineer at Shure Europe. “The current corporate trend of open, collaborative spaces that are pleasing to the eye rarely deliver the best acoustics. However, minor changes like soft furnishings can have an immediate impact.”
Importance of consultants “Corporate environments differ greatly – some rooms need to be acoustically dead and other rooms need to be brighter,” he adds. “No two rooms are the same, and each will be treated differently depending on what the actual space will be used for. Not paying attention to what the acoustics will be like at the design stage of the office build is something that we see time and time again. We naturally presume all rooms work well, without considering what goes on in the background to enhance the quality of the sound in any given acoustic space. The design stage is crucial, and having the input of an acoustic consultant is very important, along with an understanding of what the rooms will actually be used for. Shape, interior and choice of materials can all have an impact. You’d be surprised at how parallel walls, something that may not seem like a big deal at build stage, can negatively impact the acoustics of a room.” Happes also believes that the inclusion of an acoustic consultant at the design stage is important. “If there isn’t one,” he advises, “it’s best for the AV designer to be able to identify and provide target parameters for noise and reverberation in an architectural space. It’s important that the AV designer is knowledgeable, and has a basic understanding of acoustics so that he or she can make good recommendations and compromises
Bayer improves productivity with Shure Biotechnology and pharmaceutical company Bayer worked with Shure UK Systems Group, IT, communication and AV specialists MiX Consultancy and AV integrator Focus 21 to create collaborative spaces, meeting rooms, and presentation suites at the heart of its four ﬂoors. A key part of the building is the main meeting space and town hall area. This large area is designed to be divisible into a number of rooms or opened into one space, creating a challenge when it comes to maintaining clear, intelligible audio. To achieve this, the space was designed for audio conferencing and voicelift from two Shure Microﬂex Advance MXA910 Ceiling Array AV Conferencing Microphones and a Shure Microﬂex Wireless AV Conferencing System. The MXA910 Ceiling Array microphone features Steerable Coverage Technology, using up to eight separate lobes to accurately capture sound sources from above. Control software offers easy conﬁguration of all parameters, including lobe steering, presets, and templates. This combination ensures a simple solution that is said to deliver highly acceptable audio while also being discreet and architecturally unobtrusive – ideal for high-end corporate spaces. In addition, due to its location, the Ceiling Array encourages users to act and speak naturally, as they are not focused on a central microphone. This contributes to improved conferencing, better internal communications, and increased productivity. The Shure Microﬂex family is designed to be corporate network-ready and can connect to networks and third-party control systems using standard protocols for remote management and campus-wide implementation. www.shuredistribution.co.uk with architects, engineers and the end-user. When needed, the AV designer should be able to explain and demonstrate the impact a particular design decision could have on the usability of the room. Software modelling and auralisation tools can provide quality demonstrations in addition to aiding in the design.
‘Collaborative spaces that are pleasing to the eye rarely deliver the best acoustics’ Tom Colman, Shure Europe
“The desirable outcome in any room and audio system is speech intelligibility and a consistent sound level throughout the listening area,” he points out. “That typically means three things: some absorptive surfaces, low background noise and sound isolation. Absorptive surfaces, especially on walls and ceilings, mitigate
room reﬂections between parallel surfaces. In environments with low ambient noise, users don’t need to scream to be heard and system volume levels can be balanced. Noise interference can come from outside of the room – such as adjacent conference rooms – or the building. Here, sound isolation can help keep sound in the room for conﬁdentiality. A good mix of all of these is ideal.”
Retrospective rectiﬁcation Motamedian picks up the theme. “Whether it’s the shared space or the glass-walled conference rooms I mentioned earlier, the good news is that both examples can be rectiﬁed, retrospectively if required, with installed sound masking solutions,” she says. “In the example of open-plan environments shared by multiple departments, sound masking can reduce distractions and create ‘invisible acoustic partitions’ between departments. In the example of glass boardrooms, sound masking can improve privacy and conﬁdentiality and make conversations taking place inside a boardroom become less intelligible outside.”
26 SPECIAL REPORT: IMPROVING ACOUSTIC ENVIRONMENTS Of course, in an ideal world, an optimum acoustic environment is a key consideration at the point a building is designed. The AV industry is often painfully aware, unfortunately, that this is all too rarely the case (and it is often no different on the V side of AV). As such, most integrators are likely to be called in to improve an existing environment. “The most challenging rooms are those that are divisible, because the acoustics of the space change as the rooms are reconﬁgured,” believes Happes. “With divisible rooms, it’s important to understand the different use cases and seating arrangements for the different conﬁgurations. Speaker and ceiling microphone placement should begin with the largest room combination in mind. Providing more speaker zones allows ﬁner adjustments within certain problem areas; it is also reasonable to expect that some zones may be turned off when rooms are divided.” There are numerous approaches that can be considered in a retroﬁt environment. Colman returns to the surfaces in a room. “Breaking up these ﬂat, solid, hard surfaces and bringing in more soft furnishing products will improve the acoustics,” he explains. “Having all these things in place will improve the reverb time, thus making it more appropriate for conferences.”
‘Sound masking can reduce distractions and create “invisible acoustic partitions” between departments’ Hanieh Motamedian, Sound Directions
Resolving common problems “Sound masking solutions can be retroﬁtted to improve existing acoustic environments, with solutions available for open ceilings and plenum installation,” points out Motamedian. “In ﬁtting a well-designed sound masking solution, organisations are able to resolve lots of common acoustic problems associated with poor acoustic environments. By reducing the ‘radius of distraction’ for each employee with sound masking, noisy chatter, telephone conversations and keyboard tapping noises become less pronounced and employees are able to remain focused and productive.” She goes on to explain that sound masking solutions are designed as multi-zoned solutions, and some solutions offer real-time adaptive adjustment – auto-volume adjustment – and automatic equalisation. What does this mean in real terms and what are the beneﬁts? It means,
Motamedian says, that if required and calibrated correctly, a sound masking system can monitor ambient sound levels in each zone of a workplace environment and adjust levels accordingly for each zone. When a room or zone is empty, or staffing levels on a particular day are low, the sound masking system responds accordingly. Conversely, when levels of staff are high, the sound masking system can also react. Inevitably, it’s also vital to understand the available audio technology and its strengths, and specifying and deploying it appropriately.
Careful consideration “Acoustic treatments carry an economic and aesthetic impact that the owners of the space may try to avoid in retroﬁt,” says Bose’s Happes. “Proper treatment is always the best approach, but when acoustical treatment is not an option, designers must carefully consider the dispersion patterns of speakers and pick-up pattern of microphones that can help reduce the impact of the challenging acoustics.” He goes on to describe some of the solutions his company can offer for spaces of all sizes, such as line array elements with variable horizontal and vertical dispersion patterns, including asymmetrical patterns. Digital steerable column arrays can be used to steer the sound vertically into a particular zone and away from problem areas. Within the conference room environment, other speaker types mount along the boundary and direct towards the centre of the room and audio away from the wall. Happes contrasts this with a typical ceiling speaker that has a conical dispersion pattern and distributes sound in all directions. Turning to the use of microphones, Happes
notes that room purpose will ultimately dictate the appropriate type of microphone. “Microphones help maintain speech intelligibility by avoiding room reﬂections,” he says. “Close microphone techniques are almost always best practice.” He goes on to describe how gooseneck microphones, lavalieres and beamforming microphones should optimally be deployed, depending on the application and space, and how good-quality DSPs such as those available from Bose for sound reinforcement and conferencing applications, can be used to help provide the ﬁne adjustments required to equalise and set the levels of the microphones and speakers.
Starting point Increasing the use of soft furnishings, deploying sound masking and choosing equipment with the optimum characteristics for the space and usage are, of course, only three of the available approaches – but they represent a good starting point. Good acoustics have been demonstrated to have a positive effect on staff morale, worker productivity, corporate security, individual safety and even, in a healthcare environment, patient outcomes. Good sound doesn’t, however, happen by accident – it’s a function of good design and implementing the appropriate hardware, whether at the outset or after the deﬁciencies of the existing acoustic environment have ﬁnally proved unbearable.
www.bose.com www.shure.eu www.sounddirections.co.uk
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28 SPECIAL REPORT: IMPROVING ACOUSTIC ENVIRONMENTS
The best sound in every seat Unlike corporate environments, acoustic performance comes high on the list when it comes to designing concert halls and auditoriums. But, reports Erica Basnicki, the process of balancing different stakeholders’ interests isn’t always straightforward
ork is under way to create a new concert hall in London: a home in the heart of the city for British conductor Sir Simon Rattle and the London Symphony Orchestra, and a centre for music that everyone can enjoy. New York architects Diller Scoﬁdio + Renfro have been appointed to lead the project and are beginning work with acousticians and a host of other consultants to create a truly world-class space in which all the subtle nuances of music can be experienced. This is exactly the make-or-break point for this kind of project. When it comes to getting a brand new auditorium sounding its best, the initial design process is as important as – if not more important than – any technology that will ultimately ﬁnd its way into the space.
New space “Everybody says ‘we were brought on too late’, no matter what you do, whether it’s the construction, the plumbing or the audio,” says principal consultant, project and product management at RH Consulting, Roland Hemming.
“But of course you have this challenge: you can’t bring everybody on board right from the start or else you have meetings with a hundred people. Inevitably you have to start a project with a small number of experts. One would hope if the project is speciﬁcally for concerts then at a very early stage you would have an acoustician in.” If improving the acoustic performance of a new auditorium or concert hall has common ground, it’s here: getting architects, acoustic experts and the system designers together as early as possible. The sound system and the acoustic design are inextricably linked. “Room acoustics play a big role in sound system design, as they deﬁne the size and type of loudspeakers needed,” says Michał Popławski, technical sales manager, Europe for RenkusHeinz. “In highly reverberant spaces there’s a need to control the sound in the vertical plane and aim it directly at the audience. The aim is to achieve the highest possible intelligibility. In rooms with short reverberation times, the choice is more ﬂexible and a more traditional solution – like point-source loudspeakers – would work as well.”
Key Points Getting architects, acoustic experts and system designers together as early as possible is the key to a good-sounding space; however, there are practical limits to the extent to which other stakeholders can become involved earlier than is customary There are almost inevitably compromises to be struck between the visual aesthetics and the acoustic performance of a space, and frequently between the different requirements of the range of musical styles hosted by the venue Room acoustics will be a determining factor in the choice of a sound system, and in whether or not that system should take advantage of the hall’s sonic identity Loudspeaker manufacturers are looking to reduce the size of speaker cabinets, while maintaining SPLs, to reduce the visual impact of their products
SPECIAL REPORT: IMPROVING ACOUSTIC ENVIRONMENTS 29
It may come as a surprise that the interlinked disciplines don’t come together sooner, but the reason for that, explains L-Acoustics’ application engineer Julien Laval, is one of perspective: “The acoustics are assumed to be part of the building, so it follows the building workﬂow. The electroacoustic side is following the equipment workﬂow... It’s difficult to imagine how this can be uniﬁed.” The inﬂuence works both ways, with a sound system making the acoustic design easier in terms of sound distribution, according to Vicoustic technical director Gustavo Pires. As well as developing an array of acoustic panelling for home, studio and commercial buildings, Vicoustic offers clients professional acoustical support for projects ranging from home studios to large commercial venues. “In a non-ampliﬁed concert hall you need to ﬁnd ways to amplify the sound by passive design so that enough energy reaches the back of the concert hall. In a space with an ampliﬁed system, you have to match both systems: you have the passive acoustics given by the concert hall itself and then you have the loudspeakers that you’re going to put in your space,” Pires explains. Having a sound system may make the acoustic design task easier, but it is still not easy – not for a space dedicated to the appreciation of sound. “A concert hall is a complex system that involves many factors that a normal room doesn’t involve,” adds Vicoustic’s acoustic consultant João Ferreira. “If you’re talking about music, you want to feel ‘involved’ with the music when you go to a concert. You don’t think about being involved by the music in any other room. There are a lot of subjective acoustic characteristics that you want to achieve in a concert hall, which is unique. When you go to a space like that, you want to experience something different, and to experience something different you need to design it properly so people enjoy the whole experience.” The acoustic consideration penetrates through to the heart of the auditorium. How well does the shell control environmental noise? What HVAC system is being used? Naturally, the actual purpose of the space is taken into account as well: market pressures tend to dictate that a venue be able to accommodate everything from speech performances to modern rock concerts and so the ﬁnal acoustic solution will likely be a compromise between all. Compromise also comes into play between architects and interior designers, who tend to favour the pleasing aesthetics of shiny, polished materials: beautiful to look at, yes, but less than ideal for controlling late reﬂections, which are a concert hall’s number one nuisance. This is not to say that the visual professionals go out of their way to make life difficult for the
acoustic consultant, it’s simply the reality that – generally speaking – shiny, hard surfaces look nicer than softer ones. “Vicoustic always tries to come up with solutions that have a good acoustic performance, but also a good design,” notes Ferreira. The panels simply have an important job to do, and in a large auditorium “you use absorption to treat the space; that’s the main approach to it,” says Pires.
‘There are a lot of subjective acoustic characteristics that you want to achieve in a concert hall’ João Ferreira, Vicoustic
Let’s not forget that loudspeakers are just as visible – if not more so – than acoustic panels. As L-Acoustics’ Laval notes: “A concert hall has high aesthetic standards, so there’s a need for audio systems that are small in size and with a certain aesthetic in their design to be taken into account. There’s still a need for high SPL, but they must be small systems, and I think there’s a battle or race between manufacturers to respond to this. “Sound system designers also need to get a little bit more education in acoustic criteria because sometimes it’s worth using the
beneﬁts of the room acoustics, and sometimes it’s not. When they don’t have the information about the room, the safe bet is to avoid an interaction with the room by having sharp directivity on the audience.” APG’s marketing and business development director Gregory Dapsanse is passionate about directivity, and the vertical plane is just one element he focuses on: “Line arrays deliver very precise control of directivity in the vertical plane in order to guarantee a good acoustic coupling between each source, and to limit interference. Let’s say 95% of line array systems do that quite well. Very curiously, nobody cares about the horizontal control of directivity. “This is something, as you might have guessed, that we really consider as a constraint in a line array system. We have only two line array systems in the APG range: the Uniline and the Uniline Compact. You can just look at the front panel, and there is a horn, respecting the acoustic rules to guarantee what we call constant directivity.”
New sound When it comes time to improving the acoustic performance of an existing auditorium, the temptation is to assume an older sound system is the problem, and that a newer one will make everything better. Not so, says Richard Northwood, principal consultant, design and engineering at RH Consulting. “You really have to work out what the problem is ﬁrst, which has nothing to do with technology;
Theatre eliminates acoustic ‘hotspots’ In Le Grand T theatre in Nantes, the distance between the stage and the last row is very short, creating an intimate feeling between the actors and the audience. However, the theatre’s ageing sound system created acoustic ‘hotspots’, and needed to be replaced. The challenge for this upgrade was to achieve even acoustic pressure and a more precise sound with a system capable of handling various user modes. Following a four-day listening test between shortlisted brands, acoustic pressure measurements were analysed and organised. An APG Uniline Compact system comprising 14 UC206N medium/long-range loudspeakers, four UC115B bass speakers, ﬁve UC206Ws and four Uniline SB118 bass speakers was chosen. “APG stood out from the crowd by providing the most even coverage, with an accurate and efficient acoustic pressure all the way to the last rows,” says Patrick Morilleau, technical deputy director of Le Grand T.
30 SPECIAL REPORT: IMPROVING ACOUSTIC ENVIRONMENTS
it’s more about listening to the client. A lot of jobs come down to that; you listen to what they think their problem is, and you try and work out if (technology) is really what the problem is, or whether it’s actually something else.” Often, the problem is the room itself. The hope with a newly built auditorium is that it will sound great from the start. In Europe especially, many concert halls were built long before it was ever possible to model a space and treat it accordingly. The former is accomplished much more readily than the latter: “Retroﬁtting a space is always a bigger challenge because sometimes that space isn’t necessarily well-thought for the function it serves,” says Pires. “For example, if the space has a concave surface or some kind of design feature that creates echoes, you need to ﬁnd ways to solve those issues.” The issues that acoustic consultants face in a retroﬁt are largely the same as those of a new venue: striking a balance between the optimal acoustic treatment and the visual impact it will have on the space. It’s the visuals that tend to win, especially when the auditorium in question is of any signiﬁcant heritage. “It’s always a compromise between people,” acknowledges Pires. Even if a new sound system is exactly what’s required to give an older space a new sound,
installing it won’t necessarily be straightforward: “To me the retroﬁtting challenge is really about upgrading equipment to have network capabilities, and concern about weight limits,” explains Laval, “especially in concert halls where there’s a will to keep it the way it has been in the past. The retroﬁtting challenges to me are not really on the acoustic side. Any concert hall has its own personal acoustic challenge. For me the challenge is whether or not to take advantage of that acoustic identity.”
‘Room acoustics deﬁne the size and type of loudspeakers needed’ Michał Popławski, Renkus-Heinz
Here technology must step in as best as it can, and keep the interaction between sound and space to a bare minimum if necessary. “It is important for the system designer to use directional point sources or arrays with horizontal and vertical control, or beamsteerable arrays where vertical sound beams
can be tight and aimed only to areas with listeners,” explains Popławski.
New format? L-Acoustics also has thoughts on how the concert experience might evolve in the future: “Lighting and video have expanded a lot in the last 10 years,” says Laval. “To match audio with these new levels of visual experience, there’s a need for something other than stereo.” Enter L-ISA, the company’s new multichannel system that promises an “immersive sensation that people are looking for,” says Laval. “The traditional stereo system works very well in the living room, but in a venue when you have a big left-right system, actually for most people it’s a dual mono system. It’s completely different. “Of course the challenge with L-ISA is that it requires more speakers than traditional stereo, but equipment is getting smaller and more powerful each year. At some point those two characteristics are going to match and provide some innovation for concert halls.”
www.apg.audio www.l-acoustics.com www.renkus-heinz.com www.rhconsulting.eu www.vicoustic.com
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32 SPECIAL REPORT: IMPROVING ACOUSTIC ENVIRONMENTS
Making food sound better
Setting the right atmosphere can be crucial to a restaurant’s success Acoustic treatment and design are best performed prior to construction; some additional acoustic management is possible post-construction Electronic control of systems is ideal in fine-tuning performance and allowing adaptation to suit time-of-day and diner levels
Restaurants have a difficult acoustic balancing act to perform, as they must be neither too noisy nor too quiet. To conclude this special report, Steve Montgomery looks at the options on the sound control menu
here is a well-known maxim in the broadcast sector: to make the picture appear better, improve the quality of the sound. Similarly, diners in restaurants experience a more pleasurable and tastier meal in a better environment. Ambient noise plays a large part in setting that environment: a restaurant that is too loud will inhibit diners’ ability to communicate with each other. Conversely one that is too quiet can easily lack the all-important ‘atmosphere’. In a report entitled Noise and its impact on the perception of food and drink, Charles Spence of the Crossmodal Research Laboratory, Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, found that: “The evidence now clearly demonstrates that both background noise and loud music can impair our ability to taste food and drink. It would appear that noise selectively impairs the ability to detect tastes such as sweet and sour while leaving certain other taste and ﬂavour experiences relatively unaffected.” Steve Ellison, applications director at Meyer Sound, is aware of the importance of controlling the acoustic environment. He points out: “Restaurants engage all ﬁve senses: sight, smell, taste, feel and sound. Careful attention to all these is needed to ensure the most memorable experience.” Restaurants present a unique set of acoustic challenges. He continues: “Owners want to maintain a sense of excitement and ‘buzz’ and to do this, surfaces such as the walls and
ceilings are left untreated. Architects love the look of hard wood, bare concrete, and glass. When lightly occupied, rooms like this can feel great. Unfortunately, when full of diners you can end up with an uncomfortable noise level, and it can be difficult to have a conversation with someone sitting just across the table.” On the other hand, if a restaurant has excessive absorption, such as carpeting, heavy curtains, and acoustic treatment on the ceiling, the room may lack life and energy and it may be too easy to hear other diners’ conversations. Some restaurant noise helps to create privacy between tables.
‘Physical acoustic treatment requires a compromise between intelligibility, noise level, and vibe’ Steve Ellison, Meyer Sound
Seldom considered With so much riding on the atmosphere created in a restaurant, attention should be paid to good sound management. However this is not generally the case: “Sound is rarely considered in the design process for restaurants, resulting in environments that are often simply not ﬁt for purpose,” explains Julian Treasure, chairman of The Sound Agency.
“This is true in many offices, shops, hospitals and schools, so the problem is widespread, although restaurants do have certain particular challenges. It’s hard to create a good sound in a room with bad acoustics. Modern architects and restaurant designers love hard surfaces – brick, stone, steel, glass – but all of these reﬂect back almost all the sound that hits them, making any room louder and less pleasant. “Restaurants create more noise than most other locations, with a lot of metal tools, pans and devices. In the customer spaces there is air conditioning, coolers for drinks, ice makers, and coffee machines. Collectively these produce a noise ﬂoor before a single customer enters. On top of this noise ﬂoor is overlaid the noise of eating – cutlery, crockery and conversation – which gets louder and louder due to the Lombard effect: a spiral in which everyone speaks louder to be heard over everyone else, inevitably resulting in the whole room bellowing. Add to this the trend for open-plan spaces with no physical barrier between the kitchen and the diners, and you have a cacophony just waiting to happen.” Acoustic treatment of the dining area is the starting point for any restaurant and can most easily be undertaken during the building of a restaurant or during refurbishments. Treasure’s advice is to “involve an acoustician right from the start and to think about the kind of environment you want to create. In particular, the ceiling and the ﬂoor: these are large surface areas that have a
34 SPECIAL REPORT: IMPROVING ACOUSTIC ENVIRONMENTS massive effect on the way a space sounds.” Acoustic simulation and modelling aid the design process considerably, in deciding speaker layout and set-up, but are expensive to undertake and require that all the architectural components are identiﬁed and speciﬁed early in the process. Not all customers are willing to pay for this kind of approach.
Shape and size Structure and shape of the restaurant area can have considerable impact. “Modern restaurant design tends toward minimalism with smooth clean surfaces and lines in rectangular shaped rooms with low ceilings,” explains Richard Vivian, managing director of Big Sky Acoustics. “This is often the worst possible design for controlling sound: smooth, parallel walls, hard, undressed tables and glass reﬂect sound and increase reverberation times. There is often little, or no, soft furnishing to absorb the sound and uncarpeted ﬂoors mean there is a reﬂective surface parallel to the ceiling as well as increased noise from furniture being moved across hard surfaces and footfall noise. Fortunately, there are some steps that can be taken to control sound reﬂection, such as breaking ﬂat surfaces with three-dimensional features, avoiding parallel walls, and installing acoustic panels on walls and ceilings.” Peter Kellet, director of Viba Sound, is very clear on one particularly critical aspect: “The most important element of restaurant design, one that no designers seem to understand, is that the ceiling should always be at least two layers of plasterboard.”
‘It is important that the restaurateur has a vision of what they want the room to sound like’ James Wright, Primacoustic
Sound-absorbing materials can also be applied ﬂat surfaces; some of which are available as spray-on treatments. “We supply a range of acoustic decorative ﬁnishes that can be sprayed and trowelled to produce any surface ﬁnish from completely smooth to highly textured,” explains Ben Hancock, director of Oscar Acoustics. “Unless you have a particularly tall and narrow space, it is usually only necessary to apply the acoustic ﬁnishes to the ceiling, which also prevents damage to them.” These products are highly effective but do require specialist installation and application. Another company, Armstrong Ceilings, makes special acoustic ceiling products which, according to Treasure, look as good as they sound.
On the Inca trail in the City of London COYA Angel Court, a 170-cover Latin American-themed, day-to-night venue located close to the Bank of England, requires a sound system that can adapt throughout its opening hours. AV design and installation company Viba Sound speciﬁed a NEXO-Yamaha sound system that plays a key role in the dining and entertainment experience. In the bar area, Peter Kellet of Viba Sound opted for a matrix of eight NEXO ID24 loudspeakers positioned in the open ceiling, and mounted in front of the bar so that bar staff are not competing with the audio output. Two NEXO ID S110i subs are also ﬂown above the bar area, where live DJs raise the noise levels in the evenings to attract the after-work crowd. In the restaurant, fourteen Yamaha VXS-5 5in compact speakers deliver discreet background music. Seven audio zones are administered by a Yamaha MTX3 8x8 digital processor, working with digital remote boxes. Each area can be independently controlled from an iPad, running Yamaha’s Pro-Visionnaire Touch software interface. Whilst the most effective solutions need to be considered and applied at the design and construction stages, there are steps that can be taken in existing buildings. Vivian comments: “Everything has acoustic properties, so things can be added to help control noise; they don’t need to be speciﬁc acoustic items. Wooden slats, textured ﬁnishes and hangings on the walls help. Artwork can be produced on acoustic materials with frames around to help absorb the sound.” James Wright, western territory manager for Primacoustic, sees some advantage in retroﬁt: “We know how the room is performing but this is weighed against the disadvantage of working around existing infrastructure. It is important that the restaurateur has a vision of what they want the room to sound like and what their customers expect. The acoustics can be tailored to meet those expectations. There will always be a balance between acoustic and aesthetic requirements and this is an important conversation to have in the early planning stages. Sound-absorbing ceiling panels easily blend in and are highly effective in damping ambient noise to a level that is right for diners.”
Adding music Once an ideal acoustic environment has been created to remove unwanted noise, restaurateurs will then generally want to add background music to create the atmosphere they desire. The design and positioning of audio systems is crucial in achieving the desired outcome. The objective is to achieve consistent sound coverage, with no particularly bad areas with too much or too little sound. Different areas within the restaurant may
also require different sound levels. Gabriel Alonso Calvillo, product manager for integrated systems at Adam Hall, explains the approach that installers should take: “First of all, you need to know the right requirements from the owner of the restaurant: which areas should be provided with sound, how many independent zones they need, the requirement for independent volume and source control. Then, you need to know the level and coverage requirements for each zone. With this information, and the architectural plans, you can create with the right coverage/dispersion patterns. “Directivity control helps to manage the audio coverage better. Additional sound transducers can be hidden in walls or installed on surfaces to transform them into sound sources and provide a better experience for customers. A DSP audio system can be useful in conﬁguring the system depending on the time of the day and level of background noise. Features like automatic gain control, parametric EQs, dynamic compression/ limiting, as well as time schedulers and presets, help installers to conﬁgure systems and owners manage them to suit changing conditions.” Line array elements are extremely useful in providing directional sound coverage, as Daniele Mochi, project manager, K-array, explains: “A point source located close to a table would disrupt the experience for the people sitting at that particular table but would be almost inaudible for people sitting further away. The same instance happens when big subwoofers are located close to the seats, resulting in strong and unwanted vibrations. When we approach the design of a sound system for a restaurant, we take a wide range of points
SPECIAL REPORT: IMPROVING ACOUSTIC ENVIRONMENTS 35
into consideration. Most proposals are usually centred on our line-array elements supported by distributed subwoofers installed in the ceiling to create uniform sound throughout the room.” More advanced acoustic devices are also useful in tailoring speciﬁc environments after construction and ﬁt-out. Meyer Sound’s Ellison comments: “Physical acoustic treatment requires a compromise between intelligibility, noise level, and vibe. Once the treatment is in place, it can’t be adjusted. To provide the optimal experience for all occupancy levels, we have developed the Constellation active acoustic system, which dynamically changes the room’s acoustic characteristic. This technology had its start in concert halls and theatres but is proven to be effective in restaurants. “When sparsely occupied, the system automatically adds more sound energy to the room using a series of microphones installed in the ceiling over the restaurant that pick up acoustic energy from all around the room. This is processed by the system and then acoustic signals are added to the room using small loudspeakers installed overhead and, in some cases, on side walls. When fully occupied it adds a low level of reverberation to give the room an active feel, but at a much lower sound level than
if the restaurant was untreated. This can help blur conversations in the background, allowing diners to focus on their conversations.” Not only does careful sound control provide a better atmosphere and experience for diners, with an associated uptake in revenues for owners, there are additional advantages as Bob Klein, owner and founder of Oliveto Restaurant & Café discovered. It is not just the customers who feel comfortable; the waiting staff at his restaurant found that they have experienced
less back pain from not having to lean in to hear customers at the tables.
www.adamhall.com www.bigskyacoustics.co.uk www.k-array.com www.meyersound.com www.oscar-acoustics.co.uk www.primacoustic.com www.thesoundagency.com www.vibasound.com
36 BUSINESS FEATURE: CAREER DEVELOPMENT
Key Points While improvements have been made, there is still a need to develop awareness of AV to those outside the industry Establishing clear progression for those embarking on careers in AV is crucial to talent development and retention
The pace of technological change within pro AV makes mapping out career paths more difficult than in some industries
The pro AV industry occupies an odd hinterland between the technology and IT industries, which impacts the attraction and retention of talent. Duncan Proctor looks at what is being done to improve this situation
he health of the professional AV industry, as with any, is dependent upon the pool of talent at its disposal. However, AV is often overshadowed by or lumped in with the broader technology and IT industries, which boast greater brand recognition and sheer market size. How can more people be attracted to a career in pro AV and how can the industry as a whole establish better career paths? On the frontline are the recruiters that specialise in AV, such as JacobsMassey, and on the topic of attracting potential recruits “We can all help with this,” says managing director, Graeme Massey. “Every AV company, organisation or institution involved in our industry can spread the word via respective social media channels and direct marketing. Our view at JM is that we could also extend this to higher education establishments, colleges and universities. Put simply, appeal to students studying a related course or degree by informing
them that there is a career to be made in professional AV post-graduation. We have had proven success in doing this by working with postgraduates coming into the industry by starting out as freelance technicians.”
‘I found that I saw a lot of potential in terms of the ever changing needs and advancements in AV technology’ Alice Binney, Pioneer Group
Comments from last year’s InstallAwards Rising Star ﬁnalists reaffirms the point about a lack of awareness. The ﬁnalists are made up of promising newcomers either under 30 or with less than three years’ experience.
Growing industry “I honestly didn’t know a lot about the AV industry previously,” states Alice Binney, internal sales executive at Pioneer Group. “I was looking for roles where I could do something new that really challenged me and I happened to come across an AV job advertisement online which sparked my interest. I started to do a little research and familiarised myself with the industry in more depth. I found that I saw a lot of potential in terms of the ever changing needs and advancements in AV technology and I was attracted to the idea of being part of a growing and successful industry, which has now increasingly enhanced my personal and professional growth.” So is it simply an issue of self-promotion for the industry? “I feel that the AV Industry is getting better year by year at promoting itself, however the majority of people who I interact with outside
of the industry still question what AV actually is!” comments Adam Gathercole, AV testing and commissioning engineer at Focus 21, and InstallAwards Rising Star for 2017. Binney is in agreement: “I believe there could be more visibility around the AV industry. Most people who don’t work within it, often view the tech industry as a whole in many ways, without realising there are plenty of varied roles and areas within AV alone. I also don’t think many people are aware that it’s a billion-pound industry and perhaps we might have more people training and applying for roles in AV if they were!” In addition to a need to get the word out, Gathercole and Binney have ideas about what has deterred people from working in AV and where there is room for improvement. “The biggest area that could be improved on is the education of school leavers and young people looking to start a career,” explains Gathercole. “As it stands there are no dedicated audiovisual apprenticeships available, I had to take the route of an Electrical Installation course. I feel this detracts young people from taking the step towards a career in AV as there are no officially recognised trade qualiﬁcations to be gained through an apprenticeship scheme.”
‘The industry itself is a little under the radar but deﬁnitely growing in prominence’ Denise Hughes, Woop Jobs
“I also think there has been a stigma surrounding women in the AV sector in the past,” adds Binney. “It was a very male-dominated industry, and we still tend to see more men pursuing careers in AV than women, but with the help of organisations like WAVE (Women in AV), opportunities for women to advance within the industry are becoming a lot more visible.”
Progression While the ﬁrst task is getting talent into the industry, that’s only half the job; retaining that talent requires the development of routes for progression, which is far from easy, but for other reasons than recruitment. “The very nature of the AV industry is that it is driven by technology which is constantly evolving,” comments Massey. “To map out a career path is therefore a little trickier when compared with related industries. One suggestion is that AV companies would beneﬁt from offering more training opportunities via their links with manufacturers.
FEATURE: CAREER DEVELOPMENT
Enabling staff to gain more product certiﬁcation affords them greater technical know-how – therefore potentially creating more options for career development and progression.” “The AV industry is still a pretty young one, with entrepreneurial businesses, often with close-knit teams,” states Denise Hughes, director at Woop Jobs. “This means a lot of the learning has been on the job and formal career progression has been slow in the development. However bodies like AVIXA have been instrumental in creating formal training and standards over the last few years, which is starting to ﬁlter through manufacturers, integrators and consultant businesses. There is still more to be done, but with such a fast-paced industry, knowledge sharing among peers is important to stay ahead of the curve and attract the best talent.” This year at ISE, AVIXA and CEDIA once again organised the ISE Future AV Professionals Programme – aimed at those in their late teens to early 20s attending or about to attend university of college. The programme is designed to show them the possibilities the AV industry offers and the career potential. Joseph Valerio, director of workforce development at AVIXA, comments: “The faculty always loves it that their students go back home ﬁred up and engaged and ready to pursue their careers. I’m sure you’ve met with a lot of other people in our industry that were simply unaware that it’s an option for a career as it is.” While it is encouraging that industry bodies are taking steps to increase the supply of talent, Hughes believes that individual companies with in the world of AV have a responsibility to nurture that talent once they have it. “I would say that the industry bodies have stepped up and are doing the best they can to develop training paths for technical and sales people as well as specialist roles. The impetus to use these must be on the businesses, to invest in training and to feed back about what training they need for their businesses.”
And what of indsutry certiﬁcations? “As a benchmark we believe they provide people coming into the AV industry important guidelines to best practice and technical accreditation,” notes Massey. “Equally this extends to those already working within the industry by offering advanced courses such as CTS-I and CTS-D. Certiﬁcation does not replace experience but it does provide a recognised mark of attainment. That can only be good for everyone.”
Forward thinking While there is still work to be done, the industry is clearly aware of the issues and being proactive in tackling them. The nature of problems such as a lack of awareness is that they are not solved overnight and to change perceptions in a meaningful way takes time and resources. The fact that young and driven individuals such as Binney and Gathercole have been attracted to careers in AV proves the industry is moving in the right direction and the word is getting out. Going forward, what can be done to improve the situation further? “The key is the willingness of companies to look at candidates with transferable skills,” explains Hughes. “As the industry is growing rapidly, it’s vital that we bring new talent from complementary industries and enable them to learn the specialist skills. The industry itself is a little under the radar but deﬁnitely growing in prominence as it becomes vital to the IT ecosystem, and household brands are starting to move into the space.” “I think it’s a great time to join AV,” summarises Binney. “It’s a pretty complicated business, with a lot of moving parts behind the end product. Whether that’s installation, sales, technologies, design or distribution, it’s a fascinating and fastpaced environment to work in.”
www.avixa.org www.focus21.co.uk www.pioneergroup.co.uk www.woopjobs.co.uk
38 SOLUTIONS: LITTLE BIG CITY, BERLIN
PROJECT OF THE MONTH
No small undertaking A miniature recreation of Berlin’s key landmarks and major historical events uses projection, displays and audio to bring its incredibly detailed scale models to life. Christopher James reports
ocated at the foot of Berlin’s iconic TV Tower, Little BIG City, which opened on 1 July 2017, invites visitors to experience 700 years of the city’s history – in miniature. Using mostly visual content rather than text, it reveals the epic events that shaped the city from the moment it was born right up to the modern day. It is already proving popular both for tourists and educational visits from school groups. The attraction is produced by Merlin Entertainments, the creators of Madame Tussauds, Sea Life and numerous other popular attractions internationally. The Merlin team had the vision for a new attraction that would see a series of 3D interactive miniature sets brought to life with captivating sights, sounds and special effects. The video and audio equipment needed to be discreetly installed in and around the models but create a gripping effect on visitors as they move through the attraction. As access into the models would be restrictive and problematic both in terms of physical access and the maintenance time available, it was imperative the equipment was reliable and needed minimal maintenance. Little BIG City was carefully designed over 30 months. The team used architectural drawings, photos, Google Street View and cutting-edge software to ensure everything was drawn to scale. The model makers and carpenters assembled the buildings, weathering them to make them appear time-worn, before handing them to the painters. Then came the characters. Little BIG City is home to 5000 characters and 356 cats and dogs. Each character was carefully researched,
dressed and brought to life, each with their own professional stylist. They were created through 3D digital body sculpting and dressed using digital clothing design software. Merlin appointed Figment Productions, in collaboration with visitor attraction AV experts Fusion, to oversee the design, creative and lead the project team in partnership with Merlin’s creative team, DeltaLive and model makers MDM.
Sights, sounds and stories With around 100 loudspeakers, 36 projectors and 15 displays set in and around the models, Little BIG City immerses visitors in the sights, sounds and stories of Berlin from the 13th century to the present day. The journey through the miniature city is self-guided and each scene has an individual show. The welcome show for the attraction gives the illusion of the city shrinking which introduces the concept of the miniature sets. Imagery was blended to wrap around three sides of the 8m square room using ﬁve Optoma ZU400UST ultra short-throw laser projectors. This relatively small room would have 25 people on the tour, so the projectors needed to be installed close to the walls so there are no shadows. Visitors walk through the projection into the main attraction and meet their narrator, who is rear projected above the model atop Berlin’s famous Brandenburg Gate. This uses two Optoma EH200ST short-throw projectors beaming onto a transparent surface with projection ﬁlm. These units had to be bright and punchy to show clear imagery on the glass. The display creates a ‘Lilliput effect’ as visitors feel they are shrunk down to the narrator’s size as
Installed Video Optoma ZH400UST, ZU650 and ZU510 projectors eyevis 55in transparent OLED display Crystal Display transparent 10in and 15in LCDs Casio XJ-A257 projector Brightsign HD223 digital signage players Aten VE812T/R transmitter/receivers CYP EDID Manager
Audio Bose DS100SE speakers Bose FreeSpace 3 flushmount satellite speakers JBL pendant speakers Mystsystems PAN64 directional speakers Crown DCI-8-300 amplifiers Mystsystems PAN64 B17 mini amplifiers Denon DN-300C CD player BSS Soundweb BLU-100 DSP they continue their journey through time. They walk through medieval construction sites and torture chambers, through industrial production lines at the turn of the 19th century and burlesque shows from the Weimar period.
Showstopper The burning of the Reichstag in 1933 was a pivotal moment in the country’s history leading to the rise of Nazi Germany and World War II. This had to be a spectacular showstopper. Seven projectors were used in this area: two Optoma ZH400UST ultra short-throw laser, two Optoma ZU510 laser projectors and three Casio XJ-A257 projectors. Amid the smoke and noise, there is
About the project partners Fusion specialises in the museum, heritage and leisure industries. Services include AV design, installation, servicing and commissioning; lighting design and installation; electronic interactive construction and electrical installation DeltaLive provides audio, communication and technology solutions, event production, and equipment rental. Its experience spans live events, concerts, corporate events, TV, installations, immersive audio and public events XFigment Productions employs a talented team of designers, film-makers, 3D artists and software developers to produce film, video, CGI and bespoke interactive software for a multitude of projects interpretative text in both German and English that explains how a saboteur set the parliament building alight, which galvanised the people behind the Third Reich. Optoma 5,500-lumen WUXGA ZU510 laser projectors were chosen for the main display and blended across the Reichstag. Visitors then stand in the middle of the war’s largest-ever bombing raid. An 8m wide projection shows bombers racing towards them, searchlights swing around the room and air raid sirens raise the alarm. It ends with them standing among the ruins of Berlin. Two edgeblended Optoma ZU650 laser projectors with wide angle lenses are used for the display.
Divided city The Cold War sees a divided city. Using more laser projectors from Optoma, the attraction shows the Berlin Airlift, when allied forces dropped essential supplies to the population in the western side of the city; and John F Kennedy delivering his famous “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech. This display reﬂects the humour woven throughout the whole attraction as JFK’s character is standing next to a doughnut stall
SOLUTIONS: LITTLE BIG CITY, BERLIN 39 (Berliner is the German word for doughnut). The interactive display of the Springer building, the publishing house responsible for Das Bild and which facilitated messages across Berlin during the Cold War, uses an Optoma ZU510T laser projector in portrait mode to project imagery onto projection ﬁlm. Visitors can cycle through newspapers that were printed at this time. They can then go on to push over sections of the Berlin Wall, under the watchful gaze of David Hasselhoff, which triggers ﬁreworks. The ﬁnale shows modern Berlin on Millennium Eve. Visitors feel like they are looking from an aeroplane window onto the Brandenburg Gate. Content is projection mapped onto the miniature sets, and buttons trigger a spectacular ﬁrework sequence that explodes across the 12m wall. This ‘Happy New Year’ ﬁnale is powered by four edge-blended Optoma ZU650 laser projectors on the front wall, two ZH400UST projectors rear projected on the back wall and two ZU510 projectors blended on the ﬂoor behind the walkway to create a completely immersive experience. The ﬁnal scene ends at the TV Tower, which is the real view that visitors see as they exit the attraction. Fusion speciﬁed the equipment that would deliver the designers’ visions for the displays and how the stories would be told. Ian Carling, director and project manager at Fusion, explains: “Having installed Optoma projectors in many other projects, we know they deliver high quality imagery while being reliable and cost-effective. We knew they would deliver the team’s ambitious vision within the budget without compromising quality or reliability. “We used mostly Optoma lamp-free laser projectors throughout the attraction as they provide 20,000 hours operation with virtually no maintenance. Little BIG City is open 364 days a year from 10:00am to 7:00pm. This leaves little time for maintenance. In addition, access to
replace bulbs would be difficult above the model and most of the displays are edge blended, so we didn’t want these disturbed. We also chose laser because they offer versatile orientation, including portrait mode and downward projection, which gave us the ﬂexibility we needed.” All AV feeds back to a centralised control room. HDBaseT was used to send the signals to the laser projectors. The technical team at Little BIG City are able to monitor the equipment over the network and control this at the touch of button. Fusion also offers support and can log into the system and reboot remotely if needed. PJ Link commands turn the projectors on in the morning and off in evening. Mark Wootton, head of technical delivery at Figment Productions says: “This place is magical and charming, educational and fun. We used all the tricks of the trade to create this magical little city. It was real challenge to create the illusion that visitors shrink and recreate the sights and sounds of Berlin through the ages to make it feel like a noisy, bustling city. We are delighted with the end result. It was a real pleasure to work on this project.” Fusion’s Ian Carling adds: “Little BIG City brings the history of this city to life in a very entertaining way. Visitors get absorbed in the stories and experience a real mix of emotions as they walk through. From nervous tension at the bombing raids to joyful excitement. This emotional response is not just due to the content of displays but also how it is delivered – the sounds and special effects play a major role in making this such an exciting attraction to visit. We are really pleased with the performance of the AV equipment. It looks brilliant!” The team Little BIG City are also very pleased with the results. General manager Anja Nitsch says: “This was a real labour of love. We are delighted with how the visual effects really bring to life both the model and the epic events in Berlin’s history.”
www.aten.com www.brightsign.biz https://bss.audio.com www.casio-europe.com www.crownaudio.com www.crystal-display.com www.cypeurope.com www.d-mpro.com www.deltalive.com www.eyevis.com www.figmentproductions.co.uk www.fusionlx.co.uk www.jblpro.com www.mdmprops.co.uk www.mystsystems.com www.officiallittlebigcity.com/ berlin www.optoma.eu https://pro.bose.com
40 SOLUTIONS: BAL BLOMET, PARIS
Having a bal A former dance hall with an illustrious history has been refurbished and reinvented as an intimate live music venue. Tom Bradbury reports on the audio system chosen to carry its varied musical programme
he delightful Bal Blomet is a new addition to the vibrant live music scene in Paris, although its cleverly refurbished interior draws on a colourful history. Six years in the making, the venue now offers Parisians a diverse selection of musical entertainment, each genre being well served by a NEXO GEO M6 compact line array, prominently installed above the stage. Entrepreneur Guillaume Cornut spent many years in London before returning to his home town to discover the near-derelict ballroom in the 15th arrondissement of Paris. Formerly known as the Bal Nègre, the venue had quite a reputation in the early 19th century, as an exotic dance hall: indeed, it was to become one of the sources of ‘biguine’, the rhythm-centric style of music that originated in Guadeloupe and Martinique, fusing French ballroom dance steps with African rhythms. Among the artists of the Roaring Twenties performing and attending were Joséphine Baker, Maurice Chevalier and Mistinguett, watched by Jean Cocteau, Ernest Hemingway and Joan Miró.
Cornut purchased the building in 2011, and spent three years gaining his licences, planning the reconstruction and convincing his neighbours that the new renamed Bal Blomet was a good thing. So it is has proved, with the immaculately designed venue now offering a 70-seat restaurant, and concerts for just €20 a ticket.
Double height Following the excavation of 10m of Parisian earth, the double-height theatre is now below ground, its dressing rooms on an even lower ﬂoor. It has a U-shaped layout, with two levels of audience areas on either side of the stage as well as in front. A talented pianist in his own right, Cornut’s decision not to specialise in any one genre of music has given Bal Blomet a wide appeal. The objective for Cornut and his installer, Jean Michel Gache of Paris-based company Nanolink, was a sound reinforcement system that would provide even dispersion throughout the 250-capacity venue without disrupting sightlines or losing the intimacy of the space.
Installed Audio NEXO GEO M620 line array modules NEXO GEO M6B bass cabinets NEXO ID24i compact point-source speakers NEXO ID S110 subwoofers NEXO NXAMP4x4 controller/amplifiers MIDAS audio console With the programme material spanning acoustic jazz, spoken word and small ensembles, he wanted a smaller low-proﬁle cabinet that wouldn’t dominate the space. Gache has an extensive record with NEXO installations in the ‘cool’ clubs of Paris. Nanolink’s design process made use of NEXO’s proprietary NS-1 modelling and prediction software to anticipate the dispersion and SPL of the suggested conﬁguration. The solution was the newly launched NEXO GEO M6 compact line array system, which is equally suited to jazz, classical, cabaret, comedy
SOLUTIONS: BAL BLOMET, PARIS
About the installer Located just over 5km from the centre of Paris, Nanolink has been established for more than 20 years Recent installation clients include the Paris Palais du Justice, the Museum of Fairground Arts, the University of Reims and numerous clubs and event venues In addition to installations, its services include the sale of equipment and consumables, after-sales service, equipment rental, technical co-ordination at events, and training and chanson. It has the format-to-power ratio to deliver in the Bal Blomet space: other systems use bigger bass cabinets than the GEO M6B. Val Gilbert, from NEXO’s Engineering Support Division, comments: “Of course there are gainbefore-feedback restrictions, but the GEO M6 is the optimal solution to achieve the desired levels in Bal Blomet.” The arrays are affixed to the back wall, high enough above the musicians not to cause feedback issues. The choice of location is a pragmatic one: this wall is the only place where there is a weight-bearing structure. The GEO M6 design allows the system to be split, with mid-high boxes at the top and at
the bottom of the array, and the bass modules in the middle. With the top three GEO M620 cabinets covering the top balcony, the use of the three M6B bass cabinets in the middle means that system stays coherent in the low frequencies while, at the same time, optimising HF for the balcony and the ﬂoor without getting unnecessary reﬂections off the balcony itself.
More power The GEO M6B low and mid-frequency module is designed for applications that demand more powerful reinforcement, such as live music. With one 6.5in 8-ohm long-excursion driver, the M6B shares the same physical footprint as the M620, allowing the cabinets to be arrayed together in the same column. With a ﬂareshaped port tube to increase LF efficiency and linearity at high power, the M6B offers a usable range of 70Hz-1kHz @-6dB; the M620 delivers a frequency response of 80Hz-19kHz ±3dB. With NEXO-designed long-excursion highefficiency 6.5in LF driver and a 1in throat driver, the M620 can offer HF dispersion of 80° or 120° horizontal, with 20° vertical coverage, 0° to 20° splay when arrayed. The loudspeakers are mounted as far above
the stage as possible, but, thanks to the long length of the line, spill in the LF is reduced. The bass goes forward, not up and down, and there is no feedback in the low frequencies; coverage from the lowest box in the array goes over the top of the stage. To cover the balconies to the side, and the seating below them, NEXO ID24i compact pointsource loudspeakers have been used, located at the top and bottom of the GEO M6 arrays. These high-powered compacts have twin 4in drivers plus an HF compression driver with rotatable horn, which allows the horizontal dispersion to be ‘tuned’ precisely for the application. Sub-bass is provided by a pair of ID S110 10in subs on either side of the stage. The partner sub to the ID Series, these compact and powerful cabinets deliver punchy and powerful sub-bass performance within a 43-130Hz range, ideal for Bal Blomet’s performing artistes. The GEO M6 compact line array is entirely powered by NEXO NXAMP4x4 controller/ ampliﬁers, and a MIDAS mixing console completes the audio system.
42 SOLUTIONS: WINTER OLYMPICS, PYEONGCHANG
Record-setting drone show The Winter Olympics saw a new world record set before a single athlete had competed – thanks to the drone-based light show that formed part of the Opening Ceremony. Tom Bradbury reports
he Opening Ceremony of the XXIII Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang saw a spectacular light show from more than 1,200 illuminated drones – which also set a new Guinness World Record. The drones created custom animations representing different sports, as well as and various Olympic-related logos, including the formation of the iconic Olympic rings. The company behind the technology was Intel, which has developed its Shooting Star drones speciﬁcally for entertainment light shows. These sport LEDs that can produce billions of colour combinations, and can be programmed for any animation pattern. Programming is carried out using proprietary Intel algorithms. These take a reference image, calculate the number of drones required, determine where drones should be placed, and formulate the fastest path to create the image in the sky. The show can be run from a single computer and controlled by one pilot.
Intel’s Shooting Star drone is a quadcopter design, with 15cm-diameter propellers. It weighs 330g
The 1,218 drones used for the ceremony set a new world record for the “most unmanned aerial vehicles airborne simultaneously”. The previous record – 500 – was set by Intel at an event in Germany in 2016. The sequence was pre-recorded in December. We understand that the intention had been for a smaller set of 300 drones to ﬂy live during the ceremony, but last-minute logistical issues forced these plans to be scrapped. A statement from the Games’ organising committee said that “there were too many spectators standing in the area where the live drone show was supposed to take place”. The drones, which have also been used in nightly victory ceremony performances, can tolerate a maximum wind speed of 36kph. They feature four 15cm diameter propellers, encased in a protective frame; overall dimensions are 384mm x 384mm x 93mm. The frame is made of ﬂexible plastics and foam, helping to keep the weight of each drone down to 330g. Natalie Cheung, general manager of Intel’s drone light show team, commented: “The Olympics are a time when the sports and entertainment industries are buzzing with record-setting performances, so it was the perfect stage for Intel Shooting Star drones and our team to set their own kind of record.” “We are honoured to have Intel drones playing several roles at the Olympic Games,” added Anil
Nanduri, vice president and general manager, Intel Drone Group. “Not unlike the athletes competing in the events, we continue to push to innovate and develop the drone technologies that inspire people all over the world.” Intel has signed up to The Olympic Partner (TOP) programme until 2024, so we can expect to see more and bigger drone light shows at future games.
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44 SOLUTIONS IN BRIEF
Discreet sound coverage at Winter Olympics The newly built Gangneung Ice Arena in PyeongChang includes a K-array PythonKP52 line array, designed by South Korean distributor Soundus. The venue hosts ﬁgure skating and short track speed skating and houses two 60m x 30m ice rinks for competition and training. Olympic organisers were in need of an audio system that was precise and powerful for both the audience and athletes and able to provide even coverage within the four-storey arena. Soundus selected the K-array system for its maximum clarity and deﬁnition and ability to provide continuous, even coverage. In total 56 Python line arrays were installed horizontally throughout the seating to provide audio without obstructing the view of the competitions.
Creating an immersive cocktail experience The Blue Bar at The Berkeley has created ‘Out Of The Blue’, a new bar experience that takes customers on an explorative journey of taste using the ﬁnest ingredients and bespoke technology. Launched in partnership with Bacardi, ‘Out Of The Blue’ gives up to four guests the opportunity to try curated cocktails in a secret space within the hotel where tailored tech, culinary science and mixology meet to enhance the perception of ﬂavour through sight, sound and scent. Guests are immersed through a technological collaboration between projection experts Igloo Vision and sensory reality specialist Sensiks. Guests enter a 360° projection environment where specially designed ﬁlm and molecular scents combine with bespoke cocktails, to craft a unique bar experience.
Securing the Golden Tower Hotel Bosch has provided the 30-storey Las Américas Golden Tower Hotel Panama with a safety and security system covering ﬁre protection, PA, access control and video security. The hotel also includes an auditorium and seven ﬂexible conference rooms. The objective was to provide the highest safety and security that is as unobtrusive as possible. For ﬁre protection, more than 1,000 ﬁre detection sensors were installed in corridors, conference rooms and common areas, all
controlled by the Bosch Modular Fire Panel 5000 Series. Also controlled by the central ﬁre panel is a Plena Voice Alarm System with 250 loudspeakers, which was integrated into the interior design and distributed among common areas of the hotel as well as in corridors and conference spaces. For video security, a mix of 220 Bosch network cameras has been installed.
SOLUTIONS IN BRIEF 45
Royal Exchange expands possibilities Manchester’s Royal Exchange theatre has upgraded its existing TiMax SoundHub system adding greater spatialisation and system ﬂexibility. The system matrix and spatial processor has been expanded to a 48 x 48 conﬁguration with analogue and MADI I/O; this latest infrastructure upgrade also includes a new DiGiCo SD10T main FOH console and a QLab/MADI workstation. The extra capabilities of the refurbished TiMax system means the theatre can offer sound designers greater possibilities with its in-house sound system, helping keep shows to budget while meeting varied requirements. As a system management and spatial audio show control system, TiMax has enabled the Royal Exchange to reduce its show turnaround times, which has meant that more productions can be scheduled and a wider variety of events executed.
Tower of David Museum spectacular The Tower of David in Jerusalem is home to a museum dedicated to the city’s history. ‘The Night Spectacular’ production, which takes place every night, tells the story of Jerusalem through images projected onto the walls, archaeological ruins and pathways of the Citadel. To meet the demands of increasing footfall, climate changes all year round, and physical and aesthetic demands, the AV kit was upgraded to include Digital Projection projectors with the technical aspects designed by Showlogix. In the deployment there are 13 Digital Projection M-Vision Laser 18K and two E-Vision Laser 8500 models, illuminating the walls of the Citadel with 250,000 Lumens and 35 million pixels. Additionally, the Tower of David’s national heritage and archaeological site status meant the install was subject to strict rules and regulations.
Telling tales Local integrator Luxor has delivered an AV experience in UHD for the Tales from Iceland museum utilising AV Stumpfl’s Avio show control system to recreate the dramatic beauty of Iceland. The exhibition on Icelandic history, nature and society uses 21 UHD Player systems, AV Stumpfl’s professional solid-state media players, which integrate into the Avio network, to create an immersive experience for visitors to discover the country’s
landscapes and daily life. The vivid brilliance of the content enables visitors to explore Iceland through the eyes of tourist videos and discover more about the country from news reports which bring the past to life.
www.avstumpfl.com www.luxor.is www.talesfromiceland.is
ISE 2019 SAVE THE DATES
S TAY C O N N E C T E D
Kit you need to know about
PRODUCT OF d&b audiotechnik THE MONTH d&b Soundscape It’s… a combination of d&b loudspeaker systems, high-performance audio processing, object-based mixing and room acoustic emulation.
What’s new? It allows the creation of sound system designs within which acoustic environments can be created, and sound sources placed and moved. Details: The d&b Soundscape is the culmination of nearly ﬁve years of development and ﬁeld testing work with some of the world’s leading artists and venues. A stereo image only works fully for the few audience members positioned on the centre axis between left and right sources. By contrast, the d&b Soundscape is designed to deliver a true audio image to everyone in the audience. The audio mix is provides sparkling clarity and unprecedented separation, with every musical instrument heard in its true location on the stage. The disconnect between what the eyes and the ears tell the brain is eliminated, and so the brain can literally relax and enjoy the show. The name ‘Soundscape’ reflects the audio environment that is the totality of the sound around us at a specific time. The core of the d&b Soundscape is the DS100 Signal Engine (pictured), a highperformance audio processor with Audinate Dante networking and a powerful 64 x 64 level and delay matrix with extensive input and output processing. The DS100 is not a closed system; using the AES70 (OCA) protocol, it can be integrated with industry-standard consoles and show controllers, as well as replay and tracking systems. The full potential of d&b Soundscape is realised with the incorporation of two optional software modules, which together form a
powerful toolkit for sound designers: d&b En-Scene and d&b En-Space. Both are accessed via the familiar R1 Remote control software. d&b En-Scene is a sound object positioning tool that allows the individual placement and movement of up to 64 sound objects. It accurately depicts stage scenarios so that each sound object corresponds both visually and acoustically. The entire audience now hears what it sees and vice versa. d&b En-Space is an easy-to-use room emulation tool which can add and modify reverberation signatures for any given space, giving an enriched, natural-sounding reproduction. These reverberation signatures are emulations derived from acoustic measurements of six internationally renowned performance venues. According to d&b, this results in a natural modification to the acoustic characteristics of a space, whether indoors or outdoors. d&b Soundscape works in either 180º stage proscenium set-ups or 360º conﬁgurations. It has been designed to integrate with the existing d&b Workﬂow: systems can easily be set up and conﬁgured with d&b ArrayCalc.
“Soundscape fulﬁls a devotion we’ve had for decades,” says Ralf Zuleeg, head of sales services and application engineering at d&b audiotechnik, and a leading light behind the development of d&b Soundscape. “The question has always been, ‘How do we give the same natural, authentic listening experience to every member of the audience?’ Soundscape allows us to do that. It’s the truest case of the d&b goal of ‘Democracy for Listeners’.” David Claringbold, chief marketing officer at d&b audiotechnik, comments: “Sound is a powerful communicator with a deep emotional connection to our subconscious. In developing the d&b Soundscape we have envisaged a future that enhances the quality of experience for artists, audiences and engineers, extending the creative capabilities of events and venues. With Soundscape, d&b is a key contributor to an audio technology conversation that opens up a new frontier of possibility.”
Available: Now www.dbaudio.com
48 TECHNOLOGY: NEW PRODUCTS EAW UX Series Described as a complete amplification and processing solution for applications that use EAW loudspeakers, the UX series promises optimum sound system performance in a fraction of the time required using other amplifiers. The Class D amplifier series consists of the 4-channel UXA4406 and UXA4410, which deliver up to 2,500W (5,000W bridged); and the 8-channel UXA4810, which delivers 1,250W per channel (2,500W bridged). The final component is the UX48, a high performance and easyto-use signal processor that offers processing for four inputs and eight outputs. http://eaw.com Engage Works CoCreate CoCreate is an advanced collaboration software solution that is said to bring content, data and ideas into a single digital environment. Developed from methodologies employed during collaborative working, CoCreate has been built around human-centric processes, shaped with input from global blue-chip enterprise clients. It allows users to access multiple content streams simultaneously in an interactive environment, capturing thought processes in a clear visual format. ‘Designthinking templates’ help collaborators to collate, analyse and develop ideas. www.engageworks.com Digital Projection Insight Dual Laser 8K Developed in association with Delta, this 33 million pixel resolution (7680 x 4320) laser projector is designed for applications requiring maximum image detail, including medical, scientific, immersive visualisation and large-venue projects. The projector delivers 25,000 lumens of brightness and features solid-state laser illumination. The Insight Dual Laser 8K uses DLP technology incorporating three 1.38in DarkChip DMDs and Digital Projection’s ColorMax, combining to deliver what the company claims are superb colour accuracy and black levels. www.digitalprojection.co.uk Leyard/Planar Leyard DirectLight 0.7 The DirectLight product line now includes what is said to be the smallest fine-pitch LED videowall display in the industry: just 0.7mm. This allows for 4K and 8K resolution videowalls in smaller spaces, matching the pixel density seen in traditional control room videowalls but with a completely seamless and uniform image. The DirectLight family enable ultraslim, wall-mounted, front-service installations in indoor environments. The expanded line also includes a new 2.5mm pitch option. www.leyard.com
Dynacord IPX series It’s… a new series of power ampliﬁers for ﬁxed installation.
What’s new? These ampliﬁers offer high ﬂexibility, a maximum power density of 20kW and signiﬁcantly reduced power consumption.
Details: Designed for mid-sized to large permanent installations, the IPX series multichannel power ampliﬁers incorporate OMNEO IP networking architecture as well as what Dynacord calls “groundbreaking audio performance”. The series comprises three 4-channel models (IPX 5:4, 10:4 and 20:4) and one 8-channel (IPX 10:8), offering a power density of 5 kW, 10kW and 20 kW from a single amp with all channels driven. With the high energy savings generated via the new Dynacord Eco Rail mode, they are said to represent outstanding value in this market sector. The fully DSP-controlled ampliﬁer and power supply constantly monitor up to 280 parameters simultaneously to assure that even under challenging operating conditions such as mains
power ﬂuctuations, the IPX continues to perform. Several power drive options are available, thanks to Dynacord’s VLD (Variable Load Drive) technology as well as the new parallel and bridged parallel operation modes. VLD technology (on the IPX5:4 and IPX10:8) allows the available output power of 1,250W per channel to be used at either 4 or 8 ohms, or via 70V or 100V lines in direct drive mode. The integrated OMNEO interface with a primary and secondary port allows the use of eight channels from a Dante audio network, while remote and supervision parameters run on OCA protocol (AES70), open for third-party integration. The IPX series offers advanced 96kHz highresolution DSP for the highest performance, internal analogue-to-digital conversion with ultralow latency, and a superior signal-to-noise ratio.
Available: Q2 2018 www.dynacord.com
K-array Azimut It’s… a miniature audio package composed of two 10cm Lyzard loudspeakers, an ultracompact Rumble-KU44-2 sub, a KommanderKA02 ampliﬁer and a covert remote control.
What’s new? It’s claimed to be the most discreet professional audio solution on the market. Details: K-array says that Azimut was developed with the end-user in mind. In addition to balanced analogue inputs and ﬁbre optical input, the Azimut boasts plug-and-play capabilities with Bluetooth connectivity, USB ports and mini jack input. Connecting to the Azimut app over WiFi makes hundreds of thousands of songs available through onboard Spotify and web radio streaming. The app also provides the ability to manage all the functions of the ampliﬁer, from sound source selection and playlist management to graphic EQ and multi-room network set-up. The mid-high speakers with four 0.5in transducers form ultra-micro line arrays that
deliver long throw and homogeneous coverage. Housed in a durable and resistant aluminium enclosure, the four full-range, high-efficiency driver units have neodymium magnet structures and suspensions engineered for maximum linear excursion and minimum residual transducer noise. By combining the two Lyzards with the Rumble-KU44-2, the system creates full-range frequency response with prodigious output and a virtually invisible proﬁle. Only 10cm deep, the subwoofer provides an extremely powerful low end and can be easily integrated in its surroundings, including furniture and walls. For more coverage and power, the Azimut can expand by up to an additional six Lyzard loudspeakers.
Available: April 2018 www.k-array.com
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50 TECHNOLOGY: NEW PRODUCTS Matrox Monarch LCS Radar This web application allows IT administrators to monitor multiple, campus-widedeployed Monarch LCS lecture capture appliances. The colour-coded dashboard allows anomalies to be identified at a glance, and automatic email notifications of problems can be set up. Users can access the current status of video and audio inputs, schedules, events, and production modes for individual Monarch LCS devices. An integrated pane provides a confidence preview of audio and video inputs before or during encoding. www.matrox.com/video Sony VPL-FHZ120L The brightest of five new installation models that Sony announced at ISE 2018, this 12,000-lumen WUXGA large-venue laser projector uses a blue laser light source alongside a 3LCD optical system to help it produce the full light spectrum. The newly developed LCD panel offers enhanced light resistance; an optical compensator delivers high contrast, stable brightness and vibrant colour reproduction. The projector covers 100% of the sRGB colour gamut, making it suitable for applications requiring precise colour reproduction. http://pro.sony.eu
Kramer PT-871/872 It’s… a 4K transmitter and receiver pair, featuring DGKat 2.0, the newly released second generation of Kramer’s extension technology.
What’s new? According to Kramer, DGKat is the most cost-effective 4K HDR extension solution available on the market. Details: The Kramer PT-871/872 support 4K HDR, HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2 signals and 2-way powering over twisted pair. This compact extension solution delivers video signals up to 40m over Kramer Cat copper cables at up to 4K@60Hz (4:4:4) 24bpp video resolution. They support deep color, x.v.Color, lip sync, HDMI uncompressed audio channels, Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD, 2K, 4K and 3D. EDID signals are passed through from the source to the display. A single cable carries both signal and power. PT-871/872 also boast Kramer Intelligent EDID Processing, ensuring plug-and-play operation for the HDMI source and display systems, with no need for additional conﬁguration. Status LED indicators for HDMI and DGKat 2.0 ports facilitate local maintenance and
troubleshooting. The pair is highly durable: their temperature remains low to withstand extreme weather conditions. The company adds that it will soon launch a new product, capable of delivering 4K@60Hz (4:4:4) signals up to 60m.
Available: Now www.kramerav.com
Yamaha RIVAGE PM7 The central component of this new digital mixing system is the CSD-R7 digital mixing console – the same size as the control surface for the flagship RIVAGE PM10, but with the DSP engine built in. RIVAGE PM7 features 120 input channels, 60 mix busses, 24 matrixes and a selection of 48 plug-ins. A Dual Console function allows the CSDR7 to be connected to the CS-R10 or CS-R10-S control surfaces from the RIVAGE PM10 system. RIVAGE PM7 can use Yamaha’s TWINLANe networking technology, or Dante, or both. www.yamahaproaudio.com Arthur Holm DB2Share DB2Share allows meetingroom participants to share video sources with optimal video quality, without no advance preparation, technical knowledge or assistance. It is a software-free share system that is said to provide quick and seamless connectivity with a high level of security. It is part of the DB2 range of retractable monitors, which integrate discreetly into the table with minimal impact on the furniture design – just a 20mm slot. It is activated by a discreet touch button on the monitor’s upper housing. www.arthurholm.com
Panasonic PT-RQ22K It’s… a 3-chip DLP laser-phosphor projector is aimed at live event staging, exhibitions, rental, and permanent installations.
What’s new? This SOLID SHINE projector has the same compact dimensions and 21,000 centre lumens brightness as the PT-RZ21K series, but has 4K+ (5120 x 3200) resolution. Details: According to Panasonic, it meets the demand for a light weight, high-brightness 4K+ projector with ﬁlm-like image quality, suitable for single or stacked projections. Heat-resistant phosphor wheels and solidstate laser modules serve vivid 4K+ images with what are claimed to be industry-leading levels of brightness, contrast and accuracy. The PT-RQ22K offers BT.2020 emulation and supports premium HDR video content playback. The optical engine is shielded with heat-pipe
based cooling, eliminating the need for an air ﬁlter. This means that projector can operate with no maintenance for very long periods, even in dusty environments. The PT-RQ22K has a dual light engine, and can switch to a backup video signal instantaneously if a primary source goes down. It has a singlecable 4K DIGITAL LINK connection and is compatible with the newly launched Panasonic 12G-SDI interface board (ET-MDN12G10), as well as the full range of 3-chip DLP Panasonic lenses.
Available: August 2018 http://business.panasonic.eu
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52 TECHNOLOGY: SHOWCASE
Furniture and mounts As displays and other AV technologies evolve, so do the accessories used to house and protect them. Ian McMurray runs through some recent offerings from manufacturers of AV furniture and mounts
Chief signage enclosure is ﬂexible Digital signage is proving fertile territory not just for screen manufacturers but also for those providing ancillary capability such as mounting solutions. Recognising the growth in the market, ISE 2018 saw the introduction by Chief of its Impact On-Wall Kiosk. According to the company, it brings a new level of ﬂexibility to the digital signage enclosure market, while
maintaining a sleek aesthetic to complement a variety of environments. A depth-adjustable exterior frame allows for a variety of display sizes, while reversible hinges help to avoid installation and service obstructions. The design keeps the display mounted to the frame when opened, providing easier service and maintenance. The new kiosk solution is available in black or white, and in a range of sizes from 46in to 75 in. Impact is the ﬁrst product to be co-designed with Legrand’s Middle Atlantic business following Legrand’s acquisition of Chief’s parent company Milestone AV. Speciﬁcally, multiple storage options can be added to mount components in-wall and/or on-wall leveraging Middle Atlantic’s Lever Lock technology. Integrated engagement latches can be secured with tamper-proof hardware to protect equipment.
ILS lecterns are presenter-friendly Lecterns have come a long way over the years, and representative of the advances they have made is the Synergy range from Intelligent Lectern Systems (ILS). Synergy family products are manufactured from thick aluminium with machined extrusions, parts and plates – and are, the company says, made to last a lifetime. This is reinforced by the fact that they are also designed to be upgradable, giving them a lower total cost of ownership. In addition to a range of inbuilt touchscreen monitors and all-in-one touch PCs in a variety of screen sizes, ILS can now provide its new ILS503 Presentation 5 x 3 Matrix Switcher, complete with a KVM auto switch. The design of the lectern acknowledges the reality of being a presenter. It provides, for example, for a conﬁdence monitor that can allow the presenter to see the next slide
before showing it to the audience. Uniquely, according to ILS, the system also assumes the internal lectern PC is used in extended desktop mode, allowing the presenter to be guided with extra tools such as visible cues at his or her ﬁngertips.
Collaboration furniture from Erard Pro ‘disappears’ Available in a plethora of styles, colours, ﬁnishes and trims, the Erard Pro Kameleo is designed to blend in with its surroundings. At the top is a mount for a screen up to 75in diagonal (or two 65in screens): mounting kits for both ‘regular’ screens and touchscreens are available. At the bottom is a storage cupboard for conferencing electronics such as codecs. Between screen and cupboard is the TopBox, an additional storage unit for the easily lost items often associated with collaborative sessions. The front of the TopBox can be ﬁtted with an integral connection panel or control pad.
Edbak wall mount is for frameless monitors Edbak’s ERM100 electric ﬂat screen wall mount for recessed installations features a contactless electric pop-out mechanism for access and service to each display in the videowall – eliminating the need to touch the screen. The ERM100’s independent eight-step alignment system helps install the monitor ﬂush with the wall surface, without the need for special tools, while the universal open-lattice structure and integrated cable management system offer easy installation and a neat ﬁnish for LED videowall installations. It supports ﬂat screen sizes from 49in to 85in.
Loxit lectern adjusts for all users The height of the Hi-Lo Spotlight Lectern can be adjusted from 925mm to 1,585mm at the touch of a button, with smooth, nearsilent movement. The lectern also boasts integrated connectivity, including WiFi hotspot, hardwired LAN access points, USB charging and power points. Cable management ensures the lectern is free of unnecessary clutter. Secure internal storage of 295mm x 350mm x 75mm for mobile devices and valuables, USB ports for microphones and reading lights cater for multiple needs. The Hi-Lo Spotlight Lectern can also be integrated into the audiovisual infrastructure of the room via the option of a built-in AV interface plate and control.
Unicol desk brings it all together The Unicol Principal Desk’s 36mm deep top comes in a range of six ﬁnishes, and cabinets are available in black, white or silver. At 1700mm x 700mm, the desk has the real estate necessary for a control panel, monitor, keyboard and if required, a visualiser. It comes with pre-cut access holes for the monitor arm and custom-built control panel housing. The unit rides on hidden castors, and jacking feet are provided for extra stability. The Principal features 19in removable 6U racks to allow for preinstallation of equipment. Cable management allows for bulky connectors, and power sockets are provided.
TECHNOLOGY: SHOWCASE 53
Peerless-AV mounts for LED videowalls Many believe that LED displays are the future – and Peerless-AV has anticipated that trend with its new IF Mount for Samsung Direct View LED Displays. It is designed for creating large videowalls, and is a modular solution that comes kitted together out-of-the-box for simpliﬁed installation. Two of the advantages of LED displays are that they can create truly seamless multi-screen walls, and they are capable of almost limitless creative conﬁgurations. The new Peerless IF Mount reﬂects this. Its modular design means that, for example, non-rectangular walls can be created. Other features are designed to maximise the beneﬁt of the bezel-less appearance of the wall, and the fact that, as pixel pitches becomes smaller, the alignment of the pixel from display to display traditionally becomes increasingly difficult. Height adjustment overcomes installation irregularities and assures LED pixels are
aligned, while depth adjustment allows the creation of one ﬂat plane. The design of Peerless-AV’s IF Mount is said to be focused on speed and ease of installation, with predetermined adaptor rail locations and a low-proﬁle, lightweight frame to reduce wall load while making installation easier.
Vogel’s mounting solution for Barco UniSee
As bezels become smaller, and screens slimmer, lighter and more affordable, videowalls are proving increasingly popular for any environment where an attention-grabbing image is required. It is for such applications that Barco’s UniSee was designed. Barco and Vogel’s joined forces to develop a way to connect the UniSee Mount onto Vogel’s Universal video wall mounting system. A purpose-built adapter – part of the UniSee Mount package – means that customers can select their ideal mounting solution, either directly to the wall, or onto a Vogel’s mounting solution for additional positioning ﬂexibility. The
Vogel’s freestanding solution even allows a setup of up to three rows high in landscape mode, which is claimed to be unique in the market. Vogel’s TÜV-5 certiﬁed universal videowall mounting solution is modular, designed for quick and easy installation, lightweight and features integrated cable management. It has, the company says, been ﬁeld proven over the years and features in many installations around the world. Dedicated versions exist for ﬂoor-to-ceiling, ﬁxed-to-ﬂoor, freestanding ﬂoor, free hanging ceiling, ceiling-to-wall and ﬂoor-to-wall set-ups.
54 LAST WORD: RON BAKKER, PLP ARCHITECTURE
Smart buildings: The Edge and beyond Opened in 2015, Deloitte’s Amsterdam office building, The Edge, is still seen as one of the world’s smartest buildings. Its architect tells us about the user experience there, and how he sees smart buildings developing
or buildings, as for people, just being smart isn’t enough. They need to act smart, says architect Ron Bakker. “The end goal isn’t smartness of the building per se, but the overall experience of the people who use it,” he says. “For a while sustainability was the key focus, but this is being superseded by users’ wellbeing. “As human beings we like to have an inﬂuence over our environment – changing the lighting, controlling the air quality, opening a window. This has been proven to have a big effect on our state of mind, and therefore on our productivity. “As an architect I think the human side is something I’m more aware of than many technology professionals. But technology is hugely important, because it now makes it possible for people to communicate directly with their built environment.”
Internet of Things. Everything that works, that streams data, that needs organising – from air conditioning to coffee machines – is connected to a single application. Users can negotiate with the building to ﬁnd the most appropriate place to sit for that day’s tasks, and the building knows where they are so that colleagues can ﬁnd them (or not, if they prefer!). The cleaners can even ﬁnd out which toilets have been most used and need the most cleaning.”
‘The goal of a smart building isn’t smartness per se, but the overall experience of the people who use it’
A founding partner of PLP Architecture, Bakker is probably best known for The Edge, a groundbreaking office development built for Deloitte in Amsterdam. Although nearly three years old it’s still considered one of the world’s most advanced buildings. “The Edge is special because many things come together there,” says Bakker. “It’s very sustainable. It’s very controllable, down to the temperature and light levels in every workspace. It’s very social, with multiple types of working spaces and an open atrium at its heart. And everyone’s connected to the building through their smartphone or desktop. “It’s the ﬁrst building that’s wholly part of the
Because it understands individual users’ requirements and external factors such as the weather, the building can suggest that people work where they will be most comfortable – in northfacing spaces on a hot day for example – minimising the need for mechanical intervention such as closing blinds or ramping up the aircon. Deloitte is delighted with the building and has seen real beneﬁts in productivity and wellbeing, including a 45% reduction in sickness absence, says Bakker. But The Edge isn’t the end. Once the novelty had worn off, chatting with the building every day about their workspace needs began to seem like a chore for some users. “A lot of people would like these clever things to happen in the background, automatically, so a building that could learn what to do would be very helpful. Facial
recognition could be part of the solution, so the building could recognise you and get to know you and your preferences. Artiﬁcial intelligence and machine learning will be important here.” With technology becoming more integrated and connected, the interface between people and machines is improving, and “machines are learning to ‘outguess’ what people are going to do and improve their quality of experience,” he says. “That’s how intelligent buildings are going to make a real difference.” Ron Bakker is founding partner at PLP Architecture. He was talking to Carmen Cansino.
Power to perform Make an impression with the XY-3B, designed to deliver a coherent & natural sound for large venues and outdoor events.
We are exhibiting at Prolight + Sound 10-13th April, 2018. Find us in Hall 3.1, Stand A81 & A91.
AV integration in a networked world