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Improved Sound Picture for National Portrait Gallery

When it opened its doors in 1856 the National Portrait Gallery in London was the first portrait gallery in the world. Housing a collection of portraits of the people who have shaped British history and culture, the Gallery attracted over two million visits in 2013 and offers a first-class visitor experience.

In keeping with its reputation for offering high standards to visitors, the Gallery recently took steps to install a new voice announcement and paging system to enable clear communications throughout the building. Polar Audio in conjunction with Saville AV supplied Biamp's ground-breaking Vocia system to meet the needs of this prestigious institution.

The client required a multi-zone system to span four floors, incorporating all the public areas of the Gallery. This was to provide paging facilities, including message playback to give notice to visitors of the closure of the Gallery at the end of each day. Further to this there was a requirement to enable music to be played in the Portrait restaurant, as well as facility for the use of a radio microphone in the reception area for presentations.

Biamp's Vocia system was chosen as a dependable, alternative to the traditional architecture of centralised processing and routing. Through its distributed, networked approach, Vocia offers scalability, flexibility and reliability. Its decentralised architecture distributes processing and page routing across the network, eliminating the potential for a single point of system failure.

Vocia is both EN 54-16 product certified and EN 60849 and AS 60849 system verified. Vocia uses standard IP technologies such as CobraNet to lower the cost and effort of implementing single-site systems, as well as existing IP networks for multi-site installations. 

The installation employed Australian Monitor loudspeakers. QF6 ceiling loudspeakers were employed where ceilings were low whilst a combination of MP30 music horns,TXG 30 and TXG 50 traditional wall-mounted loudspeakers completed the picture. An Atterotech Inbox -M3 CobraNet input plate met the requirement for iPod connectivity in the restaurant and Beyerdynamic Opus 910 wireless radio microphones were chosen to meet the needs of the reception area presentations.

A National Portrait Gallery spokesperson expressed their satisfaction with the installation: "The flexibility, reliability and clarity afforded by the new system serves as a great enhancement to the visitor experience and we are delighted that the outcome reflects the Gallery's efforts to offer the highest possible standards throughout."

Jon Dew-Stanley of Polar Audio concurred: "Meeting the brief of a cultural institution in a historic building can often throw up unforeseen problems but the Vocia system mitigated against potential difficulties and fitted the bill brilliantly."





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