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QFlex at Edinburgh’s Historic Royal Commonwealth Pool


With over 40 years of history and having played host to two Commonwealth Games, the Royal Commonwealth Pool is a landmark A-listed building in Scotland’s capital.

For the last two years, The City of Edinburgh Council has led a massive £37m renovation and refurbishment programme to return the pool to its former glory.

Construction firm Graham, the main contractors, has been working hard to deliver a 21st century aquatic centre in this 20th Century building, and part of that work was a brand new, state of the art audio system that would overcome the demanding acoustical challenges posed by this historic space.

Installation expert Audio Light Systems, based in Edinburgh, was brought in by Arthur McKay’s, and specified a system that utilised the digital beam steering capabilities of Tannoy’s award winning QFlex range.

Steve Aitchison, Project Engineer for Audio Light Systems, said: “The original design put forward was for a series of large speakers pointing downwards. But this type of system design was what they had there before, and it caused some problems with intelligibility due to the reflective nature of the space.”

As you would expect from a swimming pool and sports facility of this nature, the pool area is large, almost cavernous space, complete with high Iroko ceilings and lots of reflective surfaces such as ceramic tiles and glass. There is also a seating area, which accommodates hundreds of spectators for specific events, and a new diving board configuration, which now meets with international requirements for major diving events such as the Commonwealth Games Diving 2014.

With such a challenging environment, Steve and the team at Audio Light Systems were aware that a different solution was required, and after working with Tannoy’s QFlex in another prestigious installation at Stirling University, they knew that this would be the perfect answer for the Royal Commonwealth Pool. The reason being is that QFlex has been specifically designed to focus acoustic energy on the desired listening plane and away from surfaces that cause reflections, making it ideal for spaces with challenging acoustics. They also offered a specified “discreet, low visual impact” solution that was paramount if the design was to be accepted.

The solution was two QFlex 48s close coupled facing 90 degrees from each other, mounted 6m high. Just these two units are able to provide total coverage, as Steve said: “The intuitive BeamEngine GUI allows the designer to specify target areas. It meant we were able to visualise the coverage of each loudspeaker in the system and create steering files to suit the specific space.”

The technology within QFlex means the system is able to achieve even, full-range coverage and SPL which is maintained across the listening plane, and is able to create an asymmetrical pattern to allow similar SPLs both in the near and far field. It can steer focused beams of acoustic energy to frequencies beyond 12kHz, which makes it suitable for full-range musical material as well as spoken word. In short, it’s perfect for the Royal Commonwealth Pool, and is adaptable enough to cope with any requirement.

“There’s a portable PA system they wanted for events,” Steve said. “This has three plug in points around the pool, and they are routed directly to the QFlex system. So if they have a race on, they can have someone doing announcements and commentary, which is ideal.”

Of course, the success of any installation is measured against the views of the client themselves, and the views so far have been uniformly positive, as Steve said: “The client is amazed with the results. Compared to what they had before, this really is night and day.”

“Now you are looking at a crystal clear paging system in the swimming pool area, which has bags of volume. So even when it is busy you have plenty of headroom. The client is genuinely delighted with the results, and the success of the project has led us to look at the Q-flex on even more projects.”

www.tannoy.com

 

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