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Installation Profile: Sound Harbor

Oct 1, 2008 12:00 PM, Story by Trevor Boyer
Photos by Eddie Arrossi

Electrosonic designs and integrates AV and control systems for Maryland’s National Harbor.


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The primary reason that Electrosonic chose powered loudspeakers for the National Harbor is that there is not enough equipment-room space to house racks of power amps. Equipment is housed in Kiosk C at the harbor plaza, which is essentially the front-of-house mixing booth for the concert space, and in a single main equipment room.

The primary reason that Electrosonic chose powered loudspeakers for the National Harbor is that there is not enough equipment-room space to house racks of power amps. Equipment is housed in Kiosk C at the harbor plaza, which is essentially the front-of-house mixing booth for the concert space, and in a single main equipment room.

The National Harbor's entire audio system is networked via a standard fiber-based 10/100 IP network that can run 128 discrete CobraNet channels; it is managed by various VLANs. DMX lighting control commands are also sent over this network, which was a challenge for Electrosonic to integrate. DMX starts at the equipment room as IP data and becomes analog at the Pathway Connectivity Pathport D converters found in 13 relay stations that resemble trash cans. It then travels over copper lines to the actual lights. At the same relay stations, the fiber-based audio signals stay digital, but a Weidmüller 8845780000 unit switches them from fiber to Cat-5.

“This is the first project that I've worked on where we were sending both audio [as CobraNet] and DMX via the same network,” Barnes says.

The National Harbor is using Renkus-Heinz's latest version of Rhaon technology for both processing signals and reporting status on any problems that might arise. Electrosonic used Rhaon as it integrated and installed the system to do final testing, tuning, and configuration of the system, and to make both tonal and gain adjustments. When Electrosonic initialized the system, the Rhaon software sent out a signal to find each Renkus-Heinz loudspeaker, to which it assigned a unique IP address that was then saved. That allowed the commissioning engineer to patch and group the loudspeakers.

“You can route any signal you want to any speaker you want any time you want, if you're proficient with it,” Barnes says. “I watched one of the commissioning engineers, Tony Peugh, just make it work like a champ by splitting the Rhaon up in certain bundles and getting his CobraNet bundles set up properly.” With this setup, operators who understand the Rhaon software can adjust each loudspeaker individually. “The operations of National Harbor can check what is going bad down to the driver level,” Cabolis says.

Electrosonic also used Rhaon to design a blunter control apparatus for day-to-day staff; the team programmed a unity gain setting to make it easy to adjust the volume of background music universally, or 40 or 60 loudspeakers at a time.

“When a show has specific requirements other than that, a production can go in and have show control and tell the head-end DSP processor — the [Peavey Nion] N6 MediaMatrix — to address each speaker individually,” Cabolis says. The N6 also puts a limiter and parametric EQ on the harbor plaza loudspeakers.

The system also relies on five Nion N3s that serve the background music system. Each of these DSP units provides 32 inputs and outputs — in this case, CobraNet channels that are grouped to serve geographic regions of the harbor area. “That also builds some redundancy in the system,” Cabolis says. “Something being down, the whole system is not down; it's only a specific area.”

Day-to-day loudspeaker adjustments, such as the power-up sequence at the beginning of each day and reboots that allow the equipment's firmware to be updated, are scheduled via a Medialon Show Control Machine III. There's also an AMX touchscreen control system, based around an NI-4100 NetLinx integrated controller and an NXD-1200V 12in. touchscreen. This is used mainly within the confines of the equipment room while staffers are servicing gear. They can use the touchscreen interface, for instance, to access override modes for the equipment they are fixing.



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