Located adjacent to the United Nations headquarters complex in Austria’s capital city, Austria Center Vienna (ACV) is an expansive conference and exhibition facility offering 24 presentation halls for 100 to 4,320 participants along with 180 smaller meeting rooms and 22,000 square meters of exhibition space. Over the past year, Austria Center Vienna overhauled the audio systems in eight of the largest halls, replacing aging conventional loudspeaker systems with new Meyer Sound self-powered systems based on LINA line array and the new ULTRA-X40 point source loudspeakers supplied by ATEC Pro Audio.
The scope of the project required nearly a year and a half for planning, system design and equipment specification, and tendering of bids. As is required by law, selection of the provider was on open competition with evaluations based on rigorous objective criteria.
“We created an advance specification that allowed only high-quality audio systems,” notes Ronald Wittenberg, deputy head of event management and supervisor of staff technicians. “When the qualifying bidders were notified, they were invited to bring in test systems for evaluation of many factors, including ease of installation and of course acoustic properties. When the scoring results were tabulated, the Meyer Sound proposal emerged ahead of the others.”
The premier showcase systems are in ACV’s three largest halls, A, B and C, which have moveable walls which close to partition halls as separate spaces or open to join two or three together for maximum seating of over 4,300. The largest, hall A, deploys left and right arrays of 13 each LINA loudspeakers with a center array of six LINA loudspeakers. To ensure clear line of sight for video projectors, the six 750-LFC low frequency control elements are flown as dual cardioid arrays in a horizontal configuration using custom mounting frames. Six additional 750-LFC elements are available for ground stacking if needed. Delay systems are two arrays of six each LINA loudspeakers flown underneath a single 750-LFC element. Four ULTRA-X40 loudspeakers serve as in fill and flown stage monitors, with eight UPM-1P compact loudspeakers available for stage front fill.
The systems for halls B and C are identical, each with dual arrays of six each LINA loudspeakers at left and right. The single ULTRA-X40 center loudspeaker is suspended on a custom mount from a single 750-LFC element.
For quick, seamless and reliable room combining, there are four AVB-networked GALAXY 816 processors in hall A and one each in B and C. “Placing these three main halls on a digital network is the beginning of our ongoing multi-room digital networking process,” says Wittenberg. “This first interconnection of GALAXY processors has been very successful and we are pleased with it.”
ACV claims the first and largest permanent installation to date of the new ULTRA-X40 point source loudspeakers, which had not yet been released until most of the planning was complete.
“I first heard ULTRA-X40 at ISE in Amsterdam and I was immediately impressed,” recalls Wittenberg. “I asked if it would be possible to replace some other planned speakers with ULTRA-X40 and fortunately the production models became available in time to do so.”
ULTRA-X40 loudspeakers are the foundation of systems in four of the mid-size halls (E, F, G and K), with four of the loudspeakers as mains in each. Delay systems in three of the rooms also are ULTRA-X40. UPM-1P loudspeakers handle delay chores in one room, and serve as front fills in all four halls.
“By placing the three larger rooms on an AVB network we were able to offer a very cost-efficient and fail-safe solution,” emphasizes ATEC Pro managing director Manfred Prochazka. “If one connection fails, the other takes over immediately and automatically. Also, we put the RMServers on the same network infrastructure for comprehensive monitoring and control of each individual loudspeaker.”
According to Prochazka, the exceptional power to size ratio of the LINA line array loudspeakers was a critical factor in the successful bid. “We did have significant weight restrictions on a truss for the main stage, which allowed only 500 kilograms at three points for audio and lighting. But this was not a problem with LINA. The slender and unobtrusive profile of the LINA arrays was another big plus.”
The new Meyer Sound systems have proven a valuable asset in the months since opening, according to ACV’s Wittenberg. “We often have visiting audio engineers for events in the halls and they seem to be very happy using the new equipment,” he says. “We’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback from the engineers and, of course more importantly, from our customers.”
Austria Center Vienna opened in 1987 and in 1993 it hosted the UN World Conference on Human Rights, the largest intergovernmental summit ever held in Austria. Austria Center Vienna is linked together with the adjoining Vienna International Centre to form what is known as “UNO-City,” though the UN headquarters complex has extraterritorial status and the ACV does not.