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Yamaha flies high with WDF at United Kingdom airports

Mar, 2010

Significantly improving customer experience is the drive behind a major ‘contentainment’ programme currently being implemented by leading airport retailer World Duty Free (WDF). With outlet areas in many of the UK’s airports, it’s a massive investment programme, with Yamaha DME24N digital mix engines providing the ideal system management solution.

Thanks to the technical advances in all areas of the audio market, the general public’s expectations of distributed audio quality are higher than ever before. WDF’s brief to Bradford-based Pro Audio Systems was to provide top-quality distributed audio throughout WDF premises, with sophisticated zone control for different areas and the ability for the systems to also handle live performances.

DME24N-controlled systems are currently installed in Manchester, Edinburgh and Jersey airports, with Bristol due for completion soon and many more to be implemented in due course.

Technically, three main factors were behind the choice of the DME24N for the systems. “The first was sound quality - the whole impetus behind the WDF’s ‘contentainment’ programme is improving the customer experience. Consequently the audio quality is crucial,” says Pro Audio Systems’ Brian Lumb.

“Flexibility was also extremely important. Because every location has different demands, the flexibility and configurability of the DME units provides a single-box solution, regardless of the demands of the individual location.

“The third factor was the facilities offered by the DME series. The combination of matrix mixing, delays, audio quality, scene-recallability and the overall DSP power available makes the DME ideal for these locations.”

One of the many DME features fully employed is auto volume sensing. By the nature of airport footfall, the WDF facilities see varying levels of traffic at different times, so the auto volume sensing facility means that the sound level is always appropriate for the number of customers present.

Given the many different products offered in the WDF retail areas, providing a multi-zone system is vitally important, as it allows the playback audio for various zones to be specific to individual areas of retail. For example luxury items, tobacco, alcohol, etc, each with their own audio content.

Another important function is to manage WDF’s provision of live performance, in which instance a Yamaha LS9 is connected to the DME for live mixing and the multiple zones become one, thus feeding the performance through the store. On these occasions the DMEs are used as multi-zone delay controllers, referencing the applicable delays back to the stage.

This was the configuration employed at Manchester and Edinburgh in December, when singer-songwriter Ben Montague played live sets at five of the UK’s biggest airports. More live sets in WDF retail areas are sure to follow, with the Yamaha DMEs playing a central role.

Crucially, however, the DME24Ns are not only being specified for what they can do now. Just as important is what they will be able to do in the future.

“For me, one of the really big attractions of the DME units is that they help us make these projects as future-proof as we can,” says Brian. “World Duty Free is always looking at enhancing its systems that contribute to the customer experience and so we have to think and plan ahead, even including possible scenarios that are unknown to us right now.

“The power and flexibility of the DME-series is a real asset in being ready for whatever the future might throw at us.”


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