Set in the 14-acre Armagh Astropark and flanked by the Armagh Observatory, the Armagh Planetarium is presently undergoing a major multi-phased renovation under the Education Authority Northern Ireland. Local A/V technology integrator and supplier Rea Sound is on a select supply list for the complex, and following a successful tender has been upgrading the facilities with an end-to-end Martin Audio solution.

The Copernicus Room uses three hangs of four Martin Audio O-LineThe project began a year ago as part of what will be an advanced, site-wide audiovisual upgrade. Its initial plase covers all spaces with the exception of the dome, which will be subject to a separate contract at a later stage. Rea Sound has carefully tailored Martin Audio systems – from O-Line micro line array down to the new Adorn series – for use in the reception area, café, exhibition area, meeting rooms, lecture theatres, breakout room and library, as part of a 16-zone design.

‘The old system was 16 years old – it had reached end of life and was beyond repair,’ explains Rea Sound Project Manager, Roger McMullan. ‘It was very clear from the word go that Martin Audio suited this because of the vast range of products in the catalogue. It met every single criteria.’

The flexible space known as the Copernicus Room offers three presentation screens, each 3.5m wide, offering 3D laser projected movies that explain the planet’s relationship with science. ‘The space holds around 200 people and any or all three can be used in alternative set-ups. Therefore we have specified three hangs of four O-Line to compensate for these different set-ups,’ McMullan says. ‘The client required clarity and even coverage, since there are lots of presentations from prominent people. The language needed to be clear, whereas the previous system just filled the room with noise.’

Describing O-Line as ‘a go-to system’, he explains, ‘we have done a lot of churches and lecture theatres with it over the years, and purely from experience we knew it would work here.’

CDD10Another key area is the large exhibition space that is generally used for video playback, but is available for hire and can accommodate a live band. Here, Rea Sound has provided three CDD10s. ‘CDD10 provides the flexibility to do all these things and deliver even coverage. The box is ergonomically pleasing, the sound quality is superb and it’s a nicely shaped box,’ McMullan says. ‘After O-Line this is our next go-to product.’ In a later phase a subwoofer will be added, for which the cabling is already in place.

The Board Room, meanwhile, is equipped with a pair of CDD6 Coaxial Differential Dispersion loudspeakers for playback from a computer. ‘It runs through an Allen & Heath dLive system and we can pick up feeds from the Copernicus Room,’ McMullan continues. ‘In fact, we can route from anywhere to anywhere.’ This installation is also mirrored in the Breakout Room, and the Kepler Room – a small 50-seat space, which is used by schools as well as an overflow area, linked from another room.

In the Reception area there are four Adorn A55s for general playback and as part of the paging system (linked to the house PA/VA) with Allen & Heath custom control. Since there is also a large video wall, presenting space footage, with the appropriate range of sound FX, a Martin Audio SX110 ultra-compact sub adds bottom end presence where required. ‘Adorn is a very cost-effective, high-quality speaker in that price bracket and carries on the Martin Audio tradition for value,’ says McMullan. ‘It’s also a nice-looking box.’

A55s can be found in various locations such as the café (where there are four wall-mounted enclosures), as well as the corridor and public spaces, back offices, warehouses and workshops, where they are used as a highly cost-effective utility speaker.

Rea Sound has now completed two of the four phases and already has more CDD5 and CDD6 speakers lined up for the library and Rocket Room, which will form the next phase. ‘Thanks to the upgrade in loudspeakers, interactive screens and digital networking the facility will now be able to extend its scope of marketing to a higher standard, making it more competitive than other venues,’ McMullan says in conclusion. ‘In fact, it is already being used by a number of multinational brands.’

‘The new audio quality is fantastic, and can clearly be heard throughout,’ says Ciaran Magee, Head of IT, Armagh Observatory & Planetarium. ‘We are very pleased with the end solution provided by Rea Sound.’

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