Vernal and Vienna models deliver news, exhibit information and background music across seven acres in durable, weatherproof package
BOSTON, September 14, 2011 — The bird calls, primate howls and other noises coming from the Phillips Park Zoo in Aurora, Illinois, are balanced with a new, high-quality audio system that delivers news, exhibit information, and background music to some 200,000 visitors each year.
The compact Vernal and Vienna loudspeakers, mounted on various building eves, light poles, and fences, are part of a custom turnkey installation that replaced an outdated system scarred by time and weather. Both models are powerful, IP56 weatherproof, two-way, full-range loudspeakers built to withstand tumultuous weather conditions, including the extreme summer heat and heavy rains often experienced while the zoo is open for business.
“We needed a more efficient way to communicate with our visitors, especially in the event of a storm or if an animal were to escape,” said Randy Johnson, manager of Phillips Park Zoo. “The weatherproof aspect drew me to Technomad, and the sound quality of the loudspeakers has exceeded our expectations. I recorded some WAV files and have short zoo ads randomly playing in between the music segments, and everything sounds great,” Johnson said.
Johnson enlisted the help of AST for a professional installation, and AST quickly determined that Technomad was the best choice for the project.
“The Vernal and Vienna loudspeakers were chosen for their weatherproof construction, and their throw distances perfectly matched our needs,” said Terry McCarthy, partner and design engineerat AST.
McCarthy strategically placed the loudspeakers outside the animal enclosures and above the reach of visitors. He also took advantage of Technomad’s flexible mounting options, utilizing the company’s sophisticated yoke mount anchoring system. McCarthy installed four runs of high-quality, 12-gauge audio cable to provide the 70-volt power distribution to all the loudspeaker locations.
“We hid the cables at Randy’s request so they weren’t visible to the public,” he said. “This took extra time but it resulted in a great payoff for the zoo. The loudspeakers blend perfectly into the surrounding environment, and the audio sounds great. Once you install them, you never have to worry about them.”
AST is a national audio, video and lighting systems design and installation company celebrating 30 years of industry experience. For help in your area, e-mail [email protected] or call 214.243.7652, or visit http://www.ast-av.com for more information.
Dry Gulch USA in Oklahoma Makes Audio Part of the Visitor Experience
The effective use of outdoor audio can put a stamp on the personality of the venue.A combination of high-quality sound, creative programming, and innovative system design and technology helps to create an atmosphere that will stick with visitors long after they depart.
Dry GulchUSA is one venue that has put a great deal of thought into employing an intelligent audio strategy, helping to create a unique and memorable atmosphere.The year-round non-profit campground and retreat center is located one hour northeast of Tulsa, Oklahoma on the shores of Lake Hudson, and owned by Church on the Move of Tulsa.
Established in 1986 as a Christian summer camp for children, Dry Gulch USA is now a multi-purpose facility also offering corporate and marriage retreats as well as Christmas holiday events.The grounds span several hundred acres and include a lake, a 700-seat performance hall, a mini-amusement park, overnight quarters and a Town Square area that is a replica of an old west town.
Audio is essential to communication and entertainment across the grounds.The facility recently initiated a multi-stage project to overhaul its existing outdoor audio systems, which had fallen into severe disrepair over the years.
“The older audio systems were long neglected and in very poor shape,” said Audio Visual Coordinator Stephen Arruda, who was hired last year to improve AV systems across the board.“The loudspeakers were completely unprotected from the elements. It sounded as if the horns were blown, but instead they were clogged with mud.The magnets were filled with hornet nests and the paper cones were deteriorated.Everything was rendered useless.”
Arruda worked with Ford Audio-Video, a regional design-build contractor, to demonstrate a range of Technomad products to improve the audio presence.The upgrades include a multi-zone networked audio system to deliver voice and music to four distinct areas of the campground, as well as a mix of new loudspeakers from Technomad and JBL that are used both within the multi-zone system and in standalone systems elsewhere on the campground.
“The staff was forced to continually replace drivers and cabinets as the older system gradually deteriorated over the years,” said James Mitchell, Account Manager for Ford Audio-Video.“What they needed was sturdy equipment that could reliably reproduce voice and audio with good quality, yet still handle the volatile Oklahoma weather.The Lake Hudson area weather is especially varied: rain, snow, heat — everything under the sun.The older weather-treated systems failed continually because they couldn’t tolerate the rough weather seasons of northeast Oklahoma.”
“There is a philosophy here to not continue to use equipment if it needs to be constantly repaired,” added Arruda.“We’re spread very thin, and this is a very large campground.A quarter-mile between loudspeaker points is not unusual here, and it’s a waste of time to drive around the grounds constantly repairing equipment.Ford Audio-Video was a big help in demonstrating products that fit within our budget but would produce good audio and be consistently reliable.”
Among Arruda’s chief initiatives was to design a multi-zone system capable of distributing audio over separate channels.The five well-defined zones comprise the “Park System,” and it is intended to produce a unique thematic experience for each zone — noticeable to guests as they move from one zone to the next.The Park System, powered by Furman power conditioning and sequencing products, employs a DBX ZonePro 640 for audio processing and Crown amplifiers to power the audio output.
The DBX ZonePro 640 is fundamental to creating the theme for each zone, entertaining guests with audio customized specifically to match the environment.Arruda assigns CDs, an iPod, and a Sonos wireless music system to deliver music, following a seven-day schedule.The iPod feeds into a Raxxess IRD-1 unit, essentially a docking station that protects the player and interfaces with the ZonePro 640 through a line output.
The Sonos system is more complex, featuring 13 audio players and 10 wireless bridges to extend the reach of the system to certain zones, including the main entrance.The Sonos systems’ Zone Player also provides a single line input to one player, which can be distributed to all locations that contain another Zone Player.
Arruda designed the system so that the ZonePro 640 reduces the main audio when a page or announcement is made over the system.While the audio program is different within each zone, live announcements are distributed to all five zones for the purpose of reaching the majority of visitors and staff.
“There is great significance in being able to communicate important messages to the entire park, whether it’s a simple informative announcement related to a visitor attraction or a true weather-related or other emergency situation,” said Arruda.“The fact that we can do this from a central point and have the messages take priority over the five-channel music output is very valuable.Visitors can hear the important messages across all zones, and then the assigned music for each zone returns immediately following the announcement.”
Several buildings and attractions signify the area around the Park System.This includes The Western Bunkhouse, which serves as the “Main Zone” in the audio distribution system.The “brains” of the Park System is also housed in this zone.
Two Technomad Berlin weatherproof loudspeakers reproduce high-quality audio within the Main Zone.The Berlin model is among the largest and most powerful loudspeakers built by Technomad, and were installed here to cover a very large area both within the park area and its outskirts.Music emanates from the Berlins in between announcements to entertain visitors.The Berlins are installed on the building rooftop for the best possible directivity and projection.
“The Technomad Berlins supply a rich and reliable sound throughout the park area, and are in a perfect location for visitors to hear pages and special announcements,” said Mitchell.“The design was also helpful as it allows for simple rooftop installation without awkward positioning.”
Arruda added that the Technomad design enabled him to mount the loudspeakers in unusual positions without modifications.He installed Berlins on top of two other downtown buildings — Town Hall and the Dining Hall — as standalone systems, using the same unusual mounting techniques.
“The Berlins have fly points everywhere, and that really helped in these unique rooftop installations where I had to anchor the loudspeakers from below,” he said.“There is no possible way this could have been done with other loudspeakers without drilling into the cabinet and adversely affecting sound quality.”
The second zone is comprised of multiple Technomad Vernal loudspeakers under several building eves in the park area, including bunkhouses for summer camp and retreat guests.The Vernals are the smallest model in the Technomad fleet, but retain the same traits of the Berlin: high audio quality, broad dispersion, weatherproof design and durable construction.
The music in this zone changes to match specific themes, such as during the Christmas Train event.The Silver Dollar Saloon, located in the Town Square of Dry Gulch USA, hosts a live bluegrass band during these events.The music is extended outdoors to the Vernals so visitors can hear the live performance.The usual soundtrack for the entire campground, distributed through the Sonos system, kicks in again once the performance has ended.
The Vernals also provide background music at a third zone by the main entrance, where visitors hear music as they wait in line and enter the park.During events such as the Christmas Train and the annual 4th of July picnic, patrons will hear music themes from the old west before segueing into seasonal or patriotic music.In this case, an iPod distributes separate content while the Sonos system extends the system’s reach up to 1000 feet, linking the entrance music with the rest of the grounds.
Arruda expects to install as many as 40 Vernals throughout Dry Gulch once completed, citing the broad audio coverage as essential to reaching visitors throughout the area.He deployed the Vernals in a 70-volt configuration to effectively reproduce audio across the entire zone, instead of the traditional 8-Ohm configuration.The 70-volt configuration daisy-chains multiple loudspeakers over longer distances than what is possible within 8-Ohm configurations.This will allow Arruda to more easily expand his distributed audio network over time.
“I learned about the benefits of the 70-volt configuration through Andrew Stone, the front of house engineer at Church on The Move,” said Arruda.“The Vernals include multi-tap connections to chain loudspeakers together, enabling distributed audio over longer distances.We can also set different wattages for better audio control in different areas.It’s a lot easier to modify 70-volt systems and manipulate the sound in different areas, even if the loudspeakers are on the same line.It’s also less labor intensive.You don’t need to provide a home run from every single loudspeaker or pair of loudspeakers back to the signal processing rack.”
The two final zones in the Park System are targeted for completion by the spring of 2009.The fourth zone will feature nine landscaped loudspeakers from Outdoor Speaker Depot in a series of planters outside of Town Square.Each planter includes three OS650 HD True Omni Ground loudspeakers installed in 70-volt configurations.The fifth zone will distribute theme park-style music to up to 12 JBL Control 25T loudspeakers.Many of the loudspeakers are being installed under the bumper car pavilion, and others will be hung near inflatable games and other theme park-style attractions.
“The whole idea of this multi-zone system is to distribute separate styles of music to create a different atmosphere in each zone,” said Arruda.“We didn’t want music floating through the air from a single location.The point is to create an environment that stays with you the entire visit but changes as you enter a different section of Dry Gulch.”
Several standalone audio systems complete the campground-wide audio presence.The Town Hall is a 700-person capacity auditorium with two Berlin outdoor loudspeakers tied to the indoor PA system.The music inside is synchronized to the Berlins to signal the beginning of daily chapel services or other gatherings and events.The signal is produced using a 32-Channel Midas Venice console, processed through a DBX DriveRack 260 and driven by a Crown Com Tech 800 to the two Berlins.
“These Berlins are used solely for the purpose of our Summer Camp sessions,” said Arruda.“The music notifies campers and their counselors when morning or evening chapel services are beginning.The loudspeakers are then muted once everyone is inside the building so other visitors and personnel are not disturbed.”
Two Berlin loudspeakers are also installed on the roof of the Dining Hall.The long-distance audio projection allows staff to project audio down the Main Street area.
“The Dining Hall loudspeakers set the atmosphere for the entire downtown area, which includes Main Street and the Town Square,” said Arruda.“We play old western music throughout the day, like the theme from Silverado.We expect to add Vernals to this building’s lakeside outdoor eating area down the road.”
Dry Gulch USA also just completed construction of the Palace Hotel in Town Square.The hotel is an ideal companion for the Christmas Train event; children have their pictures taken with Santa Claus on the main floor, and the hotel offers rooms for overnight guests.Arruda and his team from Church on the Move installed four Vernal loudspeakers at the Palace Hotel for audio entertainment and announcements.
Although the Dining Hall and the Palace Hotel systems remain standalone for the time being, Arruda envisions eventually tying both sites into the multi-zone system.He has already tied the Sonos equipment to the Palace Hotel system, although the system is processed by a dedicated Zone Pro 640 and driven by a Crown CT 1200 amplifier.Considerations for tying in the Dining Hall system will be made once Vernals are added to the building.
“Before we established the multi-zone audio system, the Dining Hall was the only building where it was possible to hear music from a distance,” he said.“Our strategy is changing now that we have established multiple loudspeaker points with better audio in various areas.We are gradually moving away from standalone systems and toward distributed audio everywhere.”
A similar version of this story appeared in the January 2009 issue of Technologies for Worship.
April 30, 2001 – Miami, Florida – Located just five miles west of Miami International Airport at the intersection of the Florida Turnpike and Dolphin Expressway; the Dolphin Mall opened its doors to eager shoppers on March 1, 2001. The 1.4 million square foot retail/entertainment center is Miami-Dade County’s largest, featuring more than 150 stores, an 850-seat, 24,000-square-foot food court with nine different restaurants, eateries and entertainment venues with another 50 concepts debuting by midsummer 2001. The outdoor food court and entrance areas make use of Technomad WeatherTech Loudspeakers, which were installed by Pro Sound Inc., of Miami, Florida.
Also known as Professional Sound Services, Inc., the company is headquartered in Miami, Florida, with branch offices located in Orlando, Florida, as well as Las Vegas, Nevada. The company was founded in February 1975 providing audio and theatrical lighting services to live entertainment events. Over the years, Pro Sound, Inc., evolved into a design, sales, and service firm to many theatrical and club venues, which eventually lead to the professional and commercial installation markets. The company now services sports facilities, convention centers, hotels, nightclubs, theaters, meeting facilities, houses of worship, courtrooms, corporate boardrooms, schools, universities and government facilities.
Predominantly the business comes from the Southeastern United States, with a representative amount of business conducted throughout the U.S. Business also takes the Pro Sound, Inc., staff to the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Central and even to South America.
Rick Scharmann, vice president of ProSound Inc., states, “Pro Sound is principally an engineering based company with strong project management experience and an excellent service support structure. The company owns its 13,800 square foot building in Miami. The Orlando facility is housed in 2,500 square feet of space which is adequate for its operations, while the Las Vegas office is somewhat larger.” Rick adds.
“The Company has a diverse group of core technical specialists that support the operation with a total of over 40 employees on staff. The average employee has over 9 years of experience in audio, security, and CCTV systems. The more senior employees average approximately 14 years or greater of systems experience.”
South Florida is famous for it’s humidity and harsh outdoor environment and Rick is the first to state, “Outdoor loudspeakers don’t last long in the brutal Florida environment. Rick notes, “Even through the Dolphin Mall is several miles inland from the ocean, it is still close enough for the salt air, compounded with the humidity, to wreak havoc on outdoor loudspeakers. For these kinds of applications, we need reliability and quality for the customer, which was pretty hard to find in the past.”
For the Dolphin Mall’s outdoor areas, the entrances and the food court, Rick installed Technomad WeatherTech™ Loudspeakers. There is one Technomad Paris 616 installed at each of the Mall’s six entrances. The large, open-air, central food court is completely exposed to the environment, and a total of 17 Technomad Vernal 15T 70volt loudspeakers cover the expansive area.
Continuing, Rick says, “The output and coverage pattern is very good compared to other loudspeakers of the same physical size. With the Technomad Vernal’s, we found that in the case of the Dolphin Mall, we needed half the number of loudspeakers for the installation compared to if we used similar dome tweeter-loaded loudspeakers of the same physical size.”
Technomad’s Vernal 15 features a 1″ diameter ceramic high-frequency driver, mounted on a 120¡ X 120¡ horn. The Vernal also features an impressive detailed and articulate low-end response from its purpose-built 5.5″ bass transducer: a component that took Technomad over two years to design and perfect. The 60 watt (120 watt peak), 8 Ohm Vernal 15 features a sensitivity rating of 91 dB SPL (800 Hz to 10 kHz, 1w/1m C.W.) and can deliver maximum, long-term SPL of 96 dB (100 dB peak), at a frequency response of 100 Hz -18 kHz. A single Crown CT Series CT410 power amp drives the 17 Vernal 15T 70-Volt loudspeakers.
Rick states, “The Vernal provides excellent full-range fidelity and outstanding long throw coverage, which is why they were used in this application.”
Rick continues, “With the Technomad Paris 616, its output was so great, we only needed one Paris at each of the six mall entrances to cover these substantially large areas.”
The audio specifications of the Paris 616 are equally impressive. The Paris features two custom-designed, rubber-surround 6.5″ polymer mid/bass drivers treated with proprietary low-residue coatings for long-reliable service. The 1″ diameter ceramic high-frequency driver, mounted on a 90¡ X 90¡ horn, offers high-fidelity, audiophile quality performance over large indoor areas, as well as large outdoor areas, even in the most severe weather conditions. Designed for maximum fidelity, dispersion and throw, the 250 watt, 6 Ohm Paris 616 features a sensitivity rating of 95 dB SPL (1w/1m C.W.) and can deliver maximum, long-term SPL of 116 dB at a frequency response of 65 Hz -18.5 kHz. Three Crown CT Series CT210 amps drive the Paris 616, with one Paris loudspeaker per channel.
Both the Vernal 15 and Paris 616 are also available with a 70-Volt internal transformer with 8, 16, 32 watt switchable taps. Technomad loudspeakers a fully sealed, 1/2″ thick, Military Specification, roto-molded polyethylene cabinet, backed by a ten-year unconditional warranty.
“This is not the first time we installed Technomad Loudspeakers,” Rick points out. “We’ve installed them in outdoor applications at the J.W. Marriott, as well as other hotels in South Florida. We’ve also had very good success with them in over-the-counter sales to several cruise ship companies; which is the worst imaginable outdoor environment for a loudspeaker.”
Rick adds, “Technomad makes a very good quality loudspeaker that sounds great in for harsh environment installations. They are my first choice for harsh outdoor environments where sound quality and reliability are paramount.”
Prosound Inc. has offices in Miami, Florida and Las Vegas, Nevada.
For additional information, please contact:
Rick Scharmann, Vice President [email protected]
1375 Northeast 123’d St., Miami FL 33161
P: 305 891 1000