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Tannoy and Lab.gruppen come together on the ballroom floor of Grand Hyatt New York

A recent renovation of Grand Hyatt New York’s elegant Empire Ballroom placed a strong emphasis on flexible, high-fidelity sound, with the addition of Tannoy QFlex digitally steerable arrays and CMS in-ceiling loudspeakers, plus various lobby speakers powered by Lab.gruppen C Series amplifiers

“Our existing sound system didn’t offer the quality of playback that we need for guests using our landmark ballroom on 42nd Street in the heart of Manhattan,” says Matt Adams, the hotel’s VP and managing director. An elegant setting that has hosted dinners and special events for Presidents and other heads of states, The Empire Ballroom recently underwent a $12 million renovation.

The Empire Ballroom comprises six interlinked areas that together can host events for between 100 and 1,700 patrons. The larger ballrooms B, C and D are laid out in a row with dividing air walls, while ballrooms A and E plus the West Ballroom serve as satellite areas with interconnected AV systems. “Previously, Grand Hyatt has brought in music-playback and AV systems to cover a wide range of events,” recalls John Bangs from AV/COM Integrators, the Severn, MD-based firm that was contracted by Dyami Architecture as a member of the Empire Ballroom design team. Later, AV Com completed the installation of new sound and video-system components for Structure Tone, the general contractor.

“The hotel management wanted to reduce load-in time and hide all the ugly wiring by adding a permanent, state-of-the-art system. For the larger B, C and D ballrooms, we first considered down-firing ceiling speakers, but soon realized that glass and lighting in the elegant ceiling would cause refraction and reflection problems. So we decided on Tannoy’s self-powered QFlex speakers and subwoofers that we ordered in custom colours to fully blend in with the décor.” For ballrooms A and E and the West Ballroom, which are smaller and have less elaborate ceilings, AV/COM opted for Tannoy CMS 601BM ceiling-mounted speakers.

“We also needed to provide a background-music and paging system in the foyer hallway that runs alongside ballrooms B thru D and which connects into the other areas,” Bangs continues. “Here, we specified Meyer Sound MM-4 speakers powered by Lab.gruppen C Series amplifiers; an additional C Series amp also powers the 24 CMS 601 ceiling speakers we specified for ballrooms A and E. Because of the C Series' high efficiency and packing density we needed just a pair of rack-mounted units to power the foyer and ceiling speakers – they are a great-sounding space saver!” AV Com also supplied PA systems for the companion West Ballroom, which leads directly off ballroom E.

“We love Tannoy products,” the installer enthuses. “They sound superb and are easy to install. The six QFlex 32 digitally steerable array loudspeakers that we installed in the three main halls – two per space, mounted in the wall corners [facing the entrances] close to the ceiling - provide complete coverage across the floor areas. The QFlex 32s measure just 54 inches tall, with a 7-by-7-inch cross section, and produce wonderful fidelity. And when the ballroom spaces are combined, the speakers couple perfectly to provide high-precision sound throughout the entire area. We also installed six Tannoy CMS-110TB active ceiling-mounted subwoofers to augment the low-end; they integrate seamlessly by using standard AC vent covers as a speaker grille.” The CMS’ long-excursion, 10-inch LF transducer is powered by an integral 200W amplifier.

“The QFlex 32 is an outstanding, fully-programmable product,” Bangs says. “QFlex uses full-range beam steering that offers an outstanding performance for both vocal and musical applications. Clients love them for the intelligibility and musical fidelity they offer in the most acoustically challenging spaces.”

“The Tannoy array loudspeakers focus the acoustical output in the target directions where it’s needed,” Bangs continues, “and provide better speech intelligibility in reverberant spaces” – in other words, they increase the “Hall Radius” beyond which the reverberant sound becomes dominant. “QFlex can achieve even coverage and SPL across the listening plane, and create an asymmetrical pattern that provides similar SPLs both in the near- and far-field. The user can configure the beam away from surfaces that cause reflections to frequencies beyond 12 kHz, a capability that makes QFlex the first digitally-steerable array to maintain music-quality coverage over the targeted area.”

The first eight-channel C Series 20:8X amplifier powers eight foyer speakers via 8-ohm connections, while the second handles the remaining MM-4s and the Tannoy ceiling speakers. “These Lab.gruppen C Series amplifiers are amazing,” Bangs considers. “With the 20:8X you get eight, 250W channels in a 2U chassis that weights just 20 pounds; eight amps pack into a half rack - it’s an amazingly efficient, very green package. Heat dissipation is never a problem because these amplifiers run pretty cool.” The sound systems are controlled from two Biamp AudiaFLEX multichannel digital controllers that provide centralized EQ and dynamics control of all signals, plus distributed wall panels for local level settings. Tie lines and multi-way panels in each hall accommodate transportable equipment.

“Dealing with TC Group Americas, who distribute Tannoy and Lab.gruppen products, is an easy, one-stop process,” Bangs concludes. “It makes ordering simple, with one PO; we know that these amplifiers and speakers will work together flawlessly. And the company couldn't be more responsive. Originally, we ordered QFlex loudspeakers in white, but it turned out that four of them had to be another colour. Within just eight short days, Tannoy took care of it and shipped us replacement units direct from Scotland, custom-painted in the desired colour. I don’t know of any other company that would have done that!”

“The results are spectacular,” Grand Hyatt’s Adams exclaims. “Our new Tannoy and Lab.gruppen sound system provides highly intelligible, conversation-level sound quality throughout the entire all room areas, from right in front of the stage area to the far corners."





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