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March 2018

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

Installation March 2018 Digital Edition  
Installation March 2018 Digital Edition  

AV integration in a networked world