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BA Flies High at Corporate HQ, Heathrow

Audiologic Flies to New Heights To Supply a Stunning Sound System for Lecture Theatre at British Airway’s HQ

Introduction

Audiologic, the award-winning provider of professional audio solutions, is delighted to announce that it has designed and supplied a stunning new sound system for the 500+ seat Lecture Theatre at British Airway’s headquarters at Waterside, near Heathrow.

GEO M6
NEXO

GEO M6

Project Overview

Hosting a vast range of corporate presentations, departmental meetings and special events, including the launch of new products and services, the BA Lecture Theatre at Waterside is in constant daily use, requiring a flexible sound system to suit all kinds of applications. However, it began to be noted internally, that whilst the visual presentation in the facility remained excellent, the audio system was no longer fit for purpose and intelligibility in the auditorium was incredibly poor.

With the all-important centenary event fast-approaching, their AV provider (who has a long-term relationship with BA) sought additional support from leading pro audio specialists Audiologic, who are highly regarded for their meticulous research and innovative design capability that would be required to solve the problem. Indeed, an initial site survey undertaken by Ben Spurgeon, Audiologic’s Senior Application Engineer, quickly revealed that the existing system struggled to cover the room’s large size and suffered from poor acoustics emanating from the curved walls and high ceilings.

Challenges

With the existing distributed point source system, the acoustic energy being emitted into the room was quickly building up, resulting in poor intelligibility. The customer was often facing complaints of users not being able to hear the presenters or the lack of volume output by the existing system. To offer flexibility in the space, the existence of retractable seating also posed an issue adding a further highly reflective surface when it was put away into its stored position.

Solution

Ben picks up the story, “I went away and created 3D acoustic models for the space, modelling different speaker types and layouts to find a solution that looked viable. We quickly found that the Nexo Geo M6 system could easily achieve the room coverage whilst not over-exciting the room’s acoustics. Powerful, flexible and compact, the Nexo M6 offered uncompromised full-range sound when flown as a full line array system without the need for BA to hire PA systems for different sized events. It was also important any visual impact remained subtle.”

With event deadlines looming, fast progression of the project was essential. Audiologic’s wide demonstration inventory allowed for them to quickly organise the on-site demonstration with the proposed Nexo equipment for proof of concept. A single hang of six Nexo M6 cabinets were flown next to the stage, in similar locations to those that were being proposed for the installation. Even with a single mono hang, it became immediately clear to the client that there was a substantial upgrade in the performance over the existing system.

By opting for the small format line array, it was possible to tightly control the dispersion on the vertical plane and therefore avoid over-exciting the room. The design of the system also allowed for the top half of the array to be muted when just the main floor area of the space was being used without the raked seating, further tightening coverage patterns. As the existing system was still in place, it was easy to quickly compare between the two systems for further support of this solution.

Advantages

Full consideration was given to ensure BA could easily integrate future opportunities in the digital domain. Ben comments, “With the opportunity for investment from the team at BA, we saw real worth in bringing the whole system in-line with the latest technologies of our industry. Utilising Dante enabled equipment, we bought every element onto the network including the microphones (Shure ULXD), amplifiers (Nexo NXAmpMk2) and mixing console. This allows the client to manage and monitor the entire system from a master PC and in future, expansion is simply provided via the network.”

Result

After proof of concept, confirmed mounting locations and required kit were confirmed with BA and the green light was given on the project. All of the equipment was tested, rigged and installed by an experienced team within an impressive timescale.

Comments

Andrew Tillet, AV Technician for BA, was very impressed with the system performance, saying “This was an exciting opportunity to make significant improvements to our sound system and provide a fully immersive listening experience for everyone at BA. We recognised that quite a radical overhaul would be required to fully enhance intelligibility across the auditorium and the difference is now night and day. Our system can be configured to meet all of our different needs for the space and allows for future expansion due to the networked infrastructure we now have.”

Dave Smith, Senior Business Manager at Audiologic concludes, “We were delighted to be working with British Airways and their AV supplier in a joint venture that offered the opportunity to completely transform the sound experience in their lecture theatre. We are renowned for our in-house design and support capabilities, and this project proves we can craft innovative, high performance audio solutions in an acoustically demanding environment. My thanks go to the full team involved, and especially to Ben Spurgeon who personally looked after the full system design and specification.”