AUCKLAND, New Zealand – Auckland International Airport is the biggest and busiest airport in New Zealand—and it just got bigger with the completion of the first stage of an extension to its international baggage hall. The 300-foot extension is capable of housing more than 500 passengers and is one of several construction projects for the airport’s new combined international and domestic terminal. Auckland systems integrator Bartons Sound Systems installed the PA for the new space, which employs HARMAN’s JBL Intellivox DC280 digitally steerable, self-powered loudspeaker arrays.
“Until this project, nearly all of the PA loudspeakers used at Auckland International Airport were ceiling speakers or old-style PA horns for exterior areas,” said Rob Waddell of Bartons Sound Systems. “Aside from the fact that we wanted to install something much better, the open-ceiling arrangement of the new baggage area precluded the use of ceiling speakers.” Waddell also realized that installing a distributed system of conventional, cabinet-type loudspeakers and the cable to wire all of them up would not be cost effective.
Additionally, before construction even started it was predicted, based on the architectural plans, that the space would be highly reverberant. A further complication: the degree of absorbency (alpha) of the horizontally mounted ceiling baffles that would be installed for reverberation control was unknown.
Waddell realized that a beam-steerable loudspeaker would provide the solution and determined the JBL Intellivox DC280 was the ideal choice for delivering intelligible sound at the volumes required to handle the ambient noise level of a baggage claim area. The loudspeakers also needed to overcome the high reverberation times created by the space’s open architecture, ceiling beams, walls and uncarpeted floors.
The JBL DC280’s digital beam steering enables its vertical dispersion to be precisely focused and shaped by controlling the relative phase and amplitude of its 16 custom-designed 4-inch drivers and optimizing its volume, parametric EQ and delay using proprietary DSP techniques.
Waddell used EASE AURA acoustic modelling software to determine that only two JBL DC280 loudspeakers would be needed to provide clear, intelligible coverage of the new baggage claim area. The loudspeakers were installed vertically along the wall where the baggage belt is located. “Because the DC280 is only 5.3 inches wide, you really have to look hard to realize the speakers are even there,” Waddell noted.
The loudspeakers had to deliver a STIPA (Speech Transmission Index Public Address) of at least 0.5 because the installation serves both as PA and as an EWIS Emergency Warning and Information System. “Management wanted the PA to deliver at least 0.6 minimum STIPA and the JBL DC280 easily achieves this,” Waddell pointed out. “The DC280’s ability to provide highly focused coverage, yet over a large distance, is key in achieving this level of power and intelligibility while overcoming such highly reverberant acoustics.”
Along with superior performance, the DC280 provided significant cost savings because it is self-powered, which eliminated the need for external amplifiers and reduced the amount and expense of cable needed. In addition, the DC280’s built-in Ambient Noise Sensing System further reduced the need for the microphones and cabling that would otherwise be required.
The successful use of the JBL DC280 has led Waddell to specify installing two more of the beam-steerable array loudspeakers for the upcoming Stage 2 of the baggage hall extension project, to be completed September 2015. Waddell will also be recommending them for all upcoming remodelling work. “On paper they’re a clever solution – but when you actually hear the speaker performing so brilliantly in this type of environment you really appreciate just how well-suited they are to this type of application.”
HARMAN (www.harman.com) designs, manufactures and markets premier audio, visual, infotainment and enterprise automation solutions for the automotive, consumer and professional markets. With leading brands including AKG®, Harman Kardon®, Infinity®, JBL®, Lexicon® , Mark Levinson ® and Revel®, the Company is admired by audiophiles, musicians and the entertainment venues where they perform. More than 25 million automobiles on the road today are equipped with HARMAN audio and infotainment systems. HARMAN has a workforce of approximately 17,600 people across the Americas, Europe, and Asia and reported sales of $5.9 billion during the last 12 months ended December 31, 2014.