Bangor Aurora Aquatic & Leisure Complex, the new leisure complex in the heart of Bangor, which houses Northern Ireland’s first FINA standard 50 metre swimming pool, also boasts an advanced and adaptable site-wide RCF communication network.
This was installed across 15 zones, each with its own autonomy, by MGA Communication Ltd, and features well over 200 application-specific loudspeakers from RCF to meet all audio and PA/VA requirements. These are driven either by low-impedance HPS1500 amps with PR4092 preamps or 100V line UP2162 (160W) or UP2321 (320W) 100V line amps with ES3160 ‘combi’ mixer amps — all in dedicated local racks.
Managing Director, Gerald McKeown said that the system was complex, but is designed to provide high-end sound broadcast throughout both internal and external areas, with user flexibility and ease of operation.
The speakers are fed from a central distribution hub, based around RCF’s powerful DXT7000 management system, from which two further pools, health and fitness suites, multi-discipline sports hall, squash courts, crèche, function rooms and cafeteria all receive distributed sound. Three external 3G synthetic training pitches are served by local IP67 rated cabinets, heat and environmentally protected, to contain the RCF amps, receivers and CD preamps.
Built with the aid of the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL), the new leisure complex was formally opened at the end of March.
MGA had been introduced to the project by JCP Consulting whose senior electrical engineer, Ivan Humphries had detailed the project requirement and the system parameters required. The 20-year old integration company, based ten miles south of Belfast, won a competitive tender and also provided IPTV / Video Wall and IP telephony in addition to the RCF solution.
“We needed qualitative and flexible sound reinforcement throughout the building, and if there was a single portfolio I could draw on, so much the better,” Gerald rationalised.
All communication systems deployed throughout the complex were under the control of the Project Director, Aaron McKeown, who attended many meetings to ensure that issues were resolved, while the company’s senior site engineer likewise ensured that installation was carried out seamlessly to a high standard.
RCF’s Audio Systems Consultant, Daniele Torelli, proposed a flexible design offering a high degree of control, efficiency and adaptability, based on his EASE predictive modelling.
The beating heart is the DXT7000’s pair of EN54-16 compliant MU7100 digital matrix devices in the central rack room. These feed a combination of 100V line and low-impedance amplifiers in 14 satellite racks, to ensure a high end broadcast signal was distributed to what ended up effectively being 24 zoned areas.
The entire signal path from the system microphone to loudspeaker lines is automatically monitored against faults. All properties and functions of the system are specified with Windows® based DXT 7000 configuration software and are downloaded to the ‘master’ unit through its USB port.
These powerful units incorporate 8-channel high pass filter, 8-channel para EQ in output, digital delay, 8ch comp/limiter and 8 x 80W digital amplifiers — some of which feed the peripheral areas and RCF’s BM7624D 24-zone paging mic station at front reception.
“The advantage is that zones can be reprogrammed and new zones added,” states Gerald, “while the provision of Cat5/Cat6 cable means that the entire system can be monitored and healthchecked.”
Of all the zones, the major challenge facing the installers was optimising the acoustically harsh Olympic-sized pool, on the one hand avoiding slapback from the rear of the audience area while delivering high intelligibility at poolside — all the while retaining the architectural aesthetic.
They specified 16 weatherproof and chemically-protected RCF Acustica P3115T . These 15in coaxial 90° x 60° IP55-rated wide dispersion speakers are mounted in 3 x 4 and 2 x 2 clusters overhead along the existing trunking. Using stainless steel grilles, these provide uniform coverage of speech, gala announcements or background/foreground music and have been tuned to reduce level firing back from the audience of the glass walls encasing the pool, thus neutralising reverberance.
These same speakers are also used in multiples to provide distributed coverage of all the synthetic sports pitches, while elsewhere Acustica C3108 ’s also enjoy heavy usage. From the foyer to the car park to the general public areas, RCF have a speaker for each purpose.
The facility is managed by Serco Leisure Northern Community Leisure Trust, a partnership between Serco Leisure Operating Ltd and North Down Borough Council.
Their technical manager, Lee Cattle, pronounced that he was “delighted” with the technological integration and the high intelligibility offered by the various RCF components. “The whole communications system is functioning extremely well,”he confirmed.
Gerald McKeown added, “It met all our expectations and possibly more,” adding with satisfaction comments from the management company that they had rarely seen such a professionally installed and adaptable networked sound system.