MILAN, ITALY — OCTOBER 2015: In such a complex installation, “we knew that Symetrix SymNet Radius DSPs would be reliable and flexible – in short, one less thing for us to worry about!” These are the thoughts of Steve Haas, President and Principal Consultant of Milford, CT-based SH Acoustics, which was recently enlisted by NYC-based exhibition design firm Thinc Design to perfect the demanding audio installation for the USA Pavilion at Expo Milano.
The first world’s fair since 2012, Expo Milano is taking place in Italy from May 1 to October 31, 2015. Centred around the theme of ‘Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life’, the event is aimed at stimulating discussion about sustainable developments among the 140-plus participating nations. For its ambitious contribution, the USA is exploring its role in global food production and the evolution of its own contemporary food culture in a two-floor presentation spread over 26,000 sq ft.
With a large number of individual exhibits involved, and the need to avoid audio spillage between different areas, SH Acoustics faced no shortage of challenges when it began work on the project in spring 2014. “Not only did we have to eliminate unwanted noise from building systems like HVAC and address any other acoustic anomalies, there was a need to accommodate the changing plans for audio content – be it narration, ambient sound or background music – as the Pavilion took shape,” explains Haas.
With fine-tuning of the exhibition contents taking place up until a late stage, Haas and the installation teams from Habegger and Simmetrico required a robust audio processing solution capable of dealing with the changes quickly, as well as a total channel count that ran into the hundreds. The DSP also needed to be compatible with SH Acoustics’ plan for a comprehensive, site-wide Dante media network operating from “source to amplifier”.
The firm’s long-running experience with Symetrix DSPs meant that it was a relatively instantaneous decision to specify four SymNet Radius AEC open architecture Dante-scalable DSPs to handle all of these requirements. “We know how to get what we want from the SymNet Composer programming software, and are well aware of the reliability of the Symetrix hardware,” says Haas. “And for this project, the SymNet Radius DSPs afforded us a remarkable level of routing capability – for example, we needed to be able to use ceiling speakers for multiple programmes as well as ambient sound at different times, and this was easily achieved.”
Specially customised ceiling speakers from another favourite brand, Innovox Audio, were also featured on the specification list, alongside JBL Control and Tannoy VX series speakers, and amplifiers from Stewart Audio and Yamaha.
“Milan isn’t exactly in our backyard,” laughs Haas, “so we knew we needed an installation that would minimise the requirement for external support once it was up-and-running. As the core of the audio set-up, we knew that Symetrix’ SymNet Radius DSP could give us the reliability we needed – and that has proven to be the case.”