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Yamaha scores a double at MK Dons hotel

Jul, 2010

While fans of international football have been gripped by World Cup fever over the summer, domestic teams and their stadia have begun quietly gearing up for the 2010/11 season. One such team is Milton Keynes Dons, whose stadium has recently opened a luxury hotel, complete with pitchside views and high-specification event / conference facility. At the heart of it is a cutting-edge Yamaha audio system.

The stadium has been home to a Yamaha LS9-16 since it opened, used for announcements and background music, and club chairman Pete Winkelman is well aware of Yamaha being located nearby. So when the Doubletree Hotel was opened within the stadium, the company was the natural choice for the state-of-the-art sound system installed in its Ballroom.

The 50 x 22m room can be used in a variety of ways, as a single space or divided in up to three separate rooms by the use of moveable acoustic screens. Winkelman approached Yamaha with a tough brief - to provide a system that was extremely versatile, could be controlled by novice users and would provide high quality audio for speech purposes, but could still deliver ‘balls to the wall’ levels when required.

Designed by Scott Fraser, Yamaha Commercial Audio (UK) installation manager, the system comprises eight IF2208, four IF2115/64 and four IS1218 loudspeakers, powered by four PC3301N, three XM4180, two PC6501N and two T5n power amplifiers. It is controlled by a DME64N digital mixing engine, via six AD8HR mic pres and four DA824 interfaces. Two ICP1 intelligent control panels are provided, programmed to make scene changes very fast and straightforward for hotel staff.

“It’s the biggest ballroom outside of London, the system had to be able to seamlessly cover more than 1100 square metres,” says Scott. “However, on match days it is divided into three, with two of the rooms used for dining, the Man of the Match presentation and other events, so the same speakers had to be able to cope with that as well. Then there is a wide range of other functions it has to accommodate.”

The answer was to mount the loudspeakers around the perimeter of the ballroom on supporting columns, which would also satisfactorily cover the area when it is divided up. Scott worked closely with the Powerdrive Drum company, based in Leighton Buzzard, which designed and supplied custom loudspeaker mounting brackets.

“Powerdrive were a great help,” he says. “The job couldn’t have gone ahead without getting brackets to mount the speakers on the columns. They designed and delivered exactly what we needed.”

Another physical challenge was in the Ballroom’s pre-function area, where a restricted height of 2.3 metres and a glass, pitchside wall meant four additional IF2205 speakers had to be very carefully positioned. “We obviously didn’t want the sound to reflect directly off the glass partition and getting the stereo spread right was a challenge in a long, thin room,” says Scott. “The speakers also had to be discreet, so positioning of them had to be very carefully done.”

With the physical positioning achieved, the main challenge was in programming the system to deliver exactly what was required.

“The system has to cope with a wide variety of uses, along with the fact that the space itself changes” says Scott. “On match days there’s a Sky Sports feed which is mixed with input from the stadium PA, then there needs to be feeds suitable for conferences, presentations, banquets, wedding receptions, meetings and a whole host of other uses. On top of that, when the ballroom is sub-divided, the loudspeakers in each room and their feeds need to work completely independently of each other.”

The DME64N is programmed with a number of scenes which take care of all of these requirements, the ICP1 control panels meaning that a single button press is all that’s required to completely change the configuration.

“One huge and unique advantage of DME is that the configuration can be completely changed without changing the power cycle, including a different set of DSP components between the ins and outs,” says Scott.

“Being able to do it within seconds means virtually zero down time for the system between different events, which is something no other system can do.”

Future-proofing has also been built into the design, with a touch panel control system and extensions to other areas catered for as possible future upgrades.

“They’re ecstatic with it,” Scott continues. “As a long-term music industry professional, Pete was gobsmacked that we have installed an extremely flexible system which can be extremely loud, if required, but with no compromise on audio quality and intelligibility.”

Data

Products LS9-16 , IF2115/64 , DME64N

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