Finger On The Pulse
Clarity and control were the priorities in Pulse Energy Recreation Centre’s PA upgrade.
Story: Graeme Hague
Staying fit and healthy, or even getting that way in the first place, is a serious business. Fortunately, it can involve a lot of fun too.
The Pulse Energy Recreation Centre is a commercial sporting and fitness complex located in the middle of Westport, on the west coast of the South Island of New Zealand. Like many such centres, Pulse Recreation is much more than just a gym-for-hire. Yes, Pulse Recreation does have a very well-equipped Fitness Centre that can cater for every exercise regime imaginable with state-of-the-art machines and an extensive range of weight training gear. But it’s just one small part of a large, community sporting hub that includes more fun stuff—basketball courts, a hockey turf, squash court, and an aquatic centre that offers a 25m, eight-lane swimming pool, hydrotherapy pool, and a children’s wading pool.
It’s a busy place with Pulse Recreation hosting many of the local indoor competitions and being the home venue for Buller Hockey. In fact, the artificial surface on the hockey turf is world-class and in demand from a number sporting codes because it’s on par with most international competition surfaces. The Aquatic Centre is entirely indoors and patronised all year round, and the basketball courts, known as the Indoor Stadium, can be partitioned into two separate playing areas with a half-house curtain (courts for different games are marked out on the floor). Last but not least, the stadium can be converted into a space for conferencing, trade displays and other corporate events.
FIT FOR PURPOSE
The existing public address system was over a decade old and needed replacing. Sporting centres are tough on PA equipment with things usually running hot and loud to overcome the significant ambient noise and that dreaded reverberation incumbent in spaces with so many high ceilings and hard surfaces—the sprung, wooden floors for example. Also, especially indoor pool areas tend to have a slightly corrosive effect on gear because of the added humidity. Although everything at Pulse Recreation is indoors, the new installation needed to be rated at IP56 throughout the complex to counter the moisture factor.
Another requirement was to provide better connectivity with smartphones and tablets—Bluetooth, of course, was at the top of the list, but other options had to be in place since not every device has Bluetooth.
And very importantly, Pulse Recreation management was keen to have improved segregation between the various audio zones. With the old system, sound bleeding across from adjacent sections of the complex was always a problem. Pulse Recreation also wanted more control over how announcements and programmed content was routed to the zones so that only the relevant areas heard any broadcast.
With the help of NAS Solutions, Mark Patterson of Clarity Audio Visual came up with some great results. Previously known as the successful Lifestyle Audio Visual, Mark has recently completed a rebranding of his AV business to acknowledge the high volume of commercial and corporate projects he’s involved in — ‘lifestyle’ suggested a focus on home theatre installations, which Mark does too, but he’s become an expert at challenging commercial installations in all kinds of buildings.
IN WITH THE NEW
At Pulse Recreation, the good news from the beginning was that while the ageing speakers and ancillary equipment were in sore need of upgrading, the cabling and infrastructure was still in very good condition, and the placement of those old speakers had been well-planned. Mark could incorporate much of the existing wiring into his project design and reduce costs in material and labour.
Next in the equation was Mark’s choice of the excellent inDESIGN iD-MH158 music horns for most of the complex. These are a speaker design well-suited for replacing the ubiquitous ‘tin horn’ 100-volt speakers that have been around since… well, since 100 volts became a thing. The inDESIGN iD-MH158 music horns are rugged, IP56 rated, long-distance speakers that throw sound with a volume and clarity that belies their compact appearance. At the same time, the music horns have a tight dispersion that can prevent zone overlap and sound spill. With some minor tweaking of the mounting points, Mark was able to create true zones.
Mark explains, “NAS Solutions really knows its products and how great the inDESIGN music horns sound. Even so, you have to hear these loudspeakers to really appreciate how good they are. They put out an amazing sound for their size, and they’re at a price point that makes them very affordable.”
The Fitness Centre was the exception because the frequent, loud and punishing music played in the gym areas demands a forgiving speaker. The SoundTube SM890i is almost an industry standard in this application, and again can survive a high-moisture environment.
Managing the audio is the Cloud DCM-1e zone controller paired with an Ashley ne24.24M system processor. This gives Pulse Recreation the best of both worlds with some precise programming of presets that provide for every possible situation, yet these are simply recalled at the touch of a button. Ease of use for the centre staff is ensured.
At the other end of the Cloud DCM-1e network and spread around the various spaces are Cloud BT-1A Bluetooth receiver wall plates and Cloud CDRF control wall plates. Line inputs are there too, as well as a Cloud PM8 paging microphone. The design of the Cloud control wall plates is a clever compromise between providing audio options for the users at the location without tempting any sticky, non-approved fingers from trying to make adjustments for themselves. The wall plates are fairly innocuous and don’t attract attention, and unauthorised use can be blocked by employing security swipe cards. In some sections where it’s useful, such as the Foyer Reception, simple volume controls are installed—well out of the punter’s reach.
The finished project delivered results beyond what everyone hoped. As Phoebe Lawton, Operations Manager says, “The entire process was seamless for us and the upgrade has exceeded our expectations.” The clarity and coverage of the inDESIGN music horns made for a world of difference in all the various spaces, and the capability to not only create zones but combinations of zones as well has given the Pulse Recreation staff full control and every option they need.
This lets everyone get on with the serious business of getting fit and healthy, and having lots of fun.