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Jul 1, 2005 12:00 PM, Mike Lethby


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Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi, UAE

Fit for an Emir

Project manager Mark Clay of Bond Communications, site engineer Jayaprakash, and system engineer Mireesh Kumar headed the team that integrated state-of-the-art AV technology into the luxury of the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Partially opened in February 2005 and scheduled for completion later this year, the new seven-star Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, is the epitome of opulent luxury. It's decked out in gold leaf, marble, and some of the finest AV technology money can buy.

Owned by the UAE government and operated by Kempinski Hotels & Resorts, the Emirates Palace is rumored to be the world's most expensive hotel — both to build and to stay in. Each of its 302 luxury rooms and 92 suites features large NEC plasma televisions. Six Rulers' Suites are reserved for Gulf Co-operation Council members' families from around the Middle East. The complex is said to have cost some $3.8 billion to build.

When it comes to doing business, the hotel is equipped like no other. The Palace Conference Centre boasts more than 75,000 square feet of meeting and conference space and a state-of-the-art auditorium seating 1,200 for concerts, lectures, conferences, and film exhibitions.

Mark Clay headed the team of lead AV contractor Bond Communications, whose remit included 302 bedrooms, 92 suites, 48 meeting rooms, the auditorium, and a special meeting chamber — a 300-seat circular forum designed for the deliberations of the Gulf Co-operation Council.

The meeting rooms typically offer Barco IQ projectors, AMX wireless touch control, Shure wireless microphones, Extron switchers, Behringer feedback destroyers, Denon DVD and Panasonic VHS players, dropdown projection screens, and videoconferencing facilities. Meeting room PA systems employ EAW ceiling speakers.

The special meeting chamber features Nexo PS15 loudspeakers, Crest amplification, a Soundcraft K2 desk, DIS DSC 6000 interpretation systems, a Brahler Digivote-2000 digital voting system, and a Panasonic AG-MX70 Digital Vision mixer.

The centerpiece 1,200-seat auditorium can be reconfigured rapidly as a movie theater, conference room, acoustic concert hall, or auditorium.

The original audio specification was written by Theater Projects and adapted by Richard Northwood of U.K. consultants COMS. Renkus-Heinz loudspeakers were chosen primarily because of the system's complexity.

“The specification was based on a CobraNet infrastructure and it's quite an elaborate system overall,” says Northwood. “We chose Renkus-Heinz partly because it's very CobraNet-friendly — and when we did the EASE model, the choice within their range allowed us to choose an appropriate box for each part of the system.”

The room measured as being quite “dry” and speech-friendly with an RT of 1-1.1 seconds. To assist with sound for unamplified performances, a Wenger acoustic orchestral shell was installed above the 66'×49' stage.

The Emirates Palace auditorium

The auditorium's relatively complex audio infrastructure is based on MediaMatrix signal routing, CobraNet distribution (via Belden CAT-6 STP), and remote control of the loudspeakers' integral amplifiers using Renkus-Heinz's proprietary R-Control system running on a LonWorks hub.

The proscenium system comprises six Renkus-Heinz ST6 and six PowerNet PN151 cabinets, with four DR18-1 boxes located under the stage as subwoofers and eight PN61s providing front fill under the stage. The delay system consists of two PN121s on the second lighting bridge and four PN61s further back on lighting bridge three. The surround sound speakers are all PN61s, 12 in total at either side, with a further eight cabinets covering the rear of the stalls and the balcony.

All the loudspeakers, which are hidden behind acoustically transparent cloth, are self-powered and receive audio from the MediaMatrix system via CobraNet to breakout boxes in loudspeaker locations.

“The system wasn't designed to be a full-on rock'n'roll system, but to be absolutely perfect for the intended mixture of VIP conferencing and film viewing,” says Clay. “Renkus-Heinz offered the best solution all around.”

For live music productions, a complete FOH control system can be wheeled in from the control room, including a 48-channel Midas XL4 console, which also provides stage monitor mixing via its matrix outputs.

Alongside it are five portable source processing racks and one 14-unit patch rack that contains the MediaMatrix CAB 16i units. The list embraces Sony MD350 minidisc machines, a Marantz CD player, Focusrite Red 3 compressor, four Klark-Teknik compressor/limiters, four KT DN360 dual-band equalizers, a Lexicon reverb, and a Kurzweil digital effects processor.

Back in the control room, the main automated installation rack houses a pair of HHB CD-R players, two more Sony MD machines, a Tascam DA-45HR DAT, and a Tascam 122 Mk 3 — all connected digitally directly into the CobraNet system with transport control effected via AMX.

Movies are delivered by a dedicated, portable JBL 5674 three-way Screen Channel System behind the 56.1'×19.8' screen, and a 35mm Cinemechanica projector, capable of both Cinemascope and widescreen formats. It handles Dolby Digital, Dolby Analog, and DTS Digital surround sound formats. Alongside it is a 16000-lumen Digital Projections 28SX SXGA projector, fed by an Analog Way Graphic Switcher II.


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