PARIS, FRANCE – JUNE 2011: The Gare de l’Est is a train station that connects Paris to Germany, Russia, Switzerland, and other points abroad via high-speed rail, as well as serving as a hub for the Paris Metro. Built in 1849 and with significant additions, Gare de l’Est is one of the oldest and one of the largest train stations in Paris. But despite its age and historical significance (it was from Gare de l’Est that legions of French troops went to the Western fronts of both World Wars), the train station melds old and new elements to form an aesthetic that is strikingly contemporary. Recently, SNCF (France’s railway company) hired United Kingdom- and France-based Sound Directions to update its ticket sales area with sound reinforcement to deliver information and revenue-generating s to waiting customers. Sound Directions relied on a Symetrix Jupiter
4 “zero learning curve” audio processor to provide ambient noise sensing, in addition to other processing, with minimal setup time and at a maximum performance-to-cost ratio.
Sound Directions has over a decade of experience in the United Kingdom, and, in recent years, it has extended its reach across the English Channel. Apart from importing and distributing professional audio products for a range of applications, Sound Directions specializes in public address integration for hotels, transportation hubs, conference centers, and the like. The company also has a unique aptitude for delivering directional sound for digital signage and museums, which they put to good use at Gare de l’Est. The installation was completed by integration specialist Audio Visuel Zoom, one of the regions leading audio/visual integrators.
To prevent the sound intended for the waiting queue from contributing to the overall din, Sound Directions systems specialist, Christophe Palluat de Besset selected MystSystems PAN64 ceiling-mounted loudspeakers. The PAN64 broadcasts in a square of 64-centimeters at a constant level for up to fifteen meters, with a remarkably steep drop-off outside that beam width. A modest rack of MystSystems B17 100-volt amplifiers provides power.
“The main challenge at Gare de l’Est is the huge variability in the number of customers at different times of the day and thus the huge variability in ambient noise,” said Palluat. “It was evident that we had three options. We could make it loud enough to be heard in crowded conditions, but then we would blow people away at the less busy times. We could make it appropriately loud for those less busy times, but then people would miss the information when it was crowded. The ideal solution was to implement ambient noise sensing that would adjust to match the ambient noise.”
Partly because of Symetrix’ long history with building first-rate ambient noise sensing (called SPL Computing by Symetrix) systems for airports, partly because of the Jupiter’s promise of quick setup, and partly because of the Jupiter’s competitive pricing, Palluat selected the Jupiter 4 to provide not just the SPL Computing, but also the rest of the system’s processing requirements. Three sensor microphones located at strategic locations near the SNCF desk monitor ambient noise for use in the Jupiter’s SPL Computing algorithm.
Modeled after smartphone technology, which allows a handheld device to take on a multitude of functions by virtue of “apps” that the user downloads, the Jupiter hardware takes on a multitude of processing personalities by virtue of apps that the user downloads from the Symetrix.co website. For Gare de l’Est, Palluat used the “Gain Sharing Automixer #1” app. In addition to the SPL Computing functionality, he used parametric equalization to reduce frequencies near 150 Hz, thereby increasing directivity, and boosting frequencies near 5000 Hz to improve intelligibility.
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