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'Prioriti' - installing the sound at the ice-rink in Gorky Park

The company “Prioriti” began operating in 2003, choosing to make acoustic design its main focus,  and designing audio-video set-ups for buildings, as well as creating professional solutions in the sphere of systems automation.

The company “Prioriti” (www.prioriti.ru) notched up a colossal amount of positive experience in system-integrated media at large-scale and complex sites. These included restaurant venues Forbes, Segafredo with a combination of different rooms including audio-, video- and light-system equipment for VIP guests, as well as celebration events with live music. Recently there's been a multi-storey hotel West Gate in Balashikha, with two conference halls and a restaurant. Here the company successfully installed a multi-zone background music system. Another was a cultural and recreation center “Leader” Ministry of Emergency Situations in Vidnoe; a network of Rosneft petrol stations; bank branches Intesa Sanpaolo  and Kreditmart covering the whole of Russia; network retailers Mango, Levis, Nike; as well as night clubs, retail centers and the office blocks of major corporations.

One of the most interesting projects was the biggest ice-rink in Europe, which opened on December 1st 2011 in Moscow, at Gorky Park.  It has 15,000 square meters of ice space. The second largest ice rink in Vienna. Its area is only 8,000 square meters.  Our company “Prioriti” was responsible for the sound system for the whole rink, while a number of famous foreign companies handled the architectural side of the project, including building the rink and lighting it. The new rink looks something like a huge network of 'linked vessels”. You can be there where there are adults skating with kids; skate around some cleverly-designed twisting tracks, nooks, or crannies; dance in the ice-disco; or play ice-hockey on a cutting-edge modern hockey rink. Show-Master talked about this project to the head of the company “Prioriti” Denis Afanasyev.

    Show-Master : What's the set-up of this project?

    Denis Afanasyev: From the technical point of view, the rink is zoned into 6 areas – the entry area, the main rink area, the ice-dance area, small adjoining lanes, a children's skating rink, and the hockey field. The entry area, dance zone, hockey field and children's rink all have the option to use zone-specific sound systems with separately-adjustable volume controls which run from special wall panels which are fitted in the adjacent pavilions. The system can also mute the sound of the adjacent areas, to minimize its audibility on other events in the zones involved. This means that a number of different events can be held at the venue simultaneously, without disturbing each other.

    Show-Master: What equipment did you use?

    Denis Afanasyev: Once we'd reached agreement with the client, we chose a Panaray American-manufactured acoustic system Bose. The loudspeakers of this system are compact and ideal for installation in places where space is an issue. They have a balanced and even sound at any volume level, with a broad horizontal spread of sound coverage.

At the entrance area, the main skating area and the dance zone we installed 16 loudspeakers Panaray 802, which are supplemented by some low-frequency modules Panaray LT MB 24 WR . Four of the modules are situated at the entrance area to the rink, and two at the dance area.  The low-frequency modules can be switched on for dance events where there's a DJ, when you need a high level of sound pressure at the low frequencies. 

he main rink and its branch are supplied with loudspeakers Panaray 402 – 52 systems in all. At the children's rink and the ice-hockey zone there are 13 loudspeakers Panaray 802 fitted.

The main amplifier equipment, sound processing gear and audio sources are all located in a separate room which is accessed from the pavilion. From there it's possible to control the sound systems remotely and manage additional sound equipment which is located in the pavilion for the dance zone.  All the acoustic systems are mounted on light masts, with the exception of the main rink area, where they're mounted at the side of the observation bridge. Setting up such a complex dual system caused a lot of work for the company, but it gave complete volume control for the sound at the rink to the operator in a way that easy and convenient. 

    Show-Master: What does the control system look like?

    Denis Afanasyev: In the areas which are controlled, where events can be held, there are lockable cupboards, inside which there is a built-in control panel which can switch between different sound regimes – background, or local sound. You can regulate the volume from the local terminal panel, for connecting sound sources or microphones.  In the standard regime, when there aren't any events being held, control of  the system happens from the main wall panel, which is installed in the sound operation room.

    Show-Master: Can you tell us some more about the sound mixing?

    Denis Afanasyev: The mixing is completely automatic (equalizer, routing for the sound signal, etc), and is handled by a sound processor Bose ControlSpace ESP-88  with part-digital amplification. Operation is achieved as a one-off with the help of a computer and special operation program ControlSpace Designer. There are eight digital amplifiers Powermatch configured to an analogue processor.  There's also the option of routing the audio signal, sound mixing, “bridge” mode, equalization and so on – but it's not so flexible as a sound processor.

    Show-Master: How did you solve the problem of the heavy reflection of sound off the ice surface, which is quite different to snow, wind-baffling.. and the extreme gradients of temperature? Well of course, it's clear that the second of those can be pretty much overcome with a little distance and a large number of loudspeakers – but the first question, well, how not to lose the crispness of signal over such a large number of speakers?  And on top of that, the settings for 'speech' and for 'music' in this system make the difference very clear.

    Denis Afanasyev: Acoustic systems have a narrow radiant pattern in their vertical plane – which means a narrow vertical angle of coverage. We also made active use of automatic dynamic active equalization of the speakers – which enables balanced sound in music regime, and in accouchement regime too – and at any volume you like.

    Show-Master: So how does that work from the operator interface? After all, no-one is going to give a permanent job to an acoustics engineer for that kind of work – no-one would!

    Denis Afanasyev: No special technical knowledge at all is needed to control the sound system. The rink management come in to switch on the music and switch between operation regimes – speech, or music – and to control the volume for the entire rink, or for one particular zone by using a single wall panel. We had a lot of tasks to achieve! To build a powerful and effective system, whilst making it as simple to operate as a home music center, so that there was no need to employ a sound system whilst making the system much more reliable at the same time.

    Show-Master: I'd like to know what the original technical set-up was, and did you have to change things as you went along, and why?

    Denis Afanasyev: The hardest thing, for sure, was working in the cold, plus the intensely foreshortened period available for the installation – just 20 days – which meant that we worked without a break. We were completely reliant on contractors (unstable electric current, not enough columns to install the system, that kind of thing).

    Show-Master: Thanks for the interview!  See you on the rink!