Despite the recent real estate woes, Las Vegas remains one of the fastest growing cities in America. And as the city has grown, so has its airport. Along with the recent opening of its new 1.9 million square foot Terminal 3, McCarran International Airport has also revamped and renovated the original Terminal 1, including an updated sound system featuring dozens of Renkus-Heinz Iconyx digitally steerable array loudspeakers.
“Terminal 1 was not designed with a dedicated paging system,” explains Edouard Charland, Vice President of Lenexa, KS-based Coffeen Fricke & Associates, Inc. (CFA). “The airport was using the fire alarm systems for paging, and most of the terminal-wide announcements were originating from a paging office that was using the telephone system to originate those announcements. This approach produced low levels of speech intelligibility and offered very little flexibility for zoning and directing announcements.”
Based on their involvement in the Terminal 3 project, CFA was called in to offer suggestions for the ailing audio issues at Terminal 1.. One of the most challenging areas was the expansive baggage claim area. As Charland explains, in addition to the typical acoustical issues inherent in large spaces, there was something uniquely Vegas.
“All around the carousel area there are numerous large screens playing video advertisements for local casinos and night clubs. The audio systems for those screens are fairly loud. They’re running pretty much non-stop 24/7, and they’re only overridden for emergency announcements.”
The baggage claim area is covered by 32 Iconyx IC16-R-II steered arrays, mounted on opposite sides of each carousel’s pillar to provide 360 degrees of coverage. As CFA’s Sr. Vice President Robert Ledo points out, the arrangement provided an unprecedented degree of control. “Typically, an airport will be zoned so that all of baggage claim is a single zone, or possibly a couple of zones. But this arrangement also enables them to address each individual carousel – this was an airport directive.”
“The Iconyx system actually enabled us to provide better intelligibility than something like an overhead distribution scheme,” Ledo adds. “It can concentrate the energy right at the people, and cut through the background noise.”
Another area where the Iconyx steered beam technology really shined was in the lengthy ticketing lobby, where the building’s unique architecture presented its own set of challenges. “The ticketing lobby’s design looks like an airplane wing,” says Charland. “So the horizontal coverage pattern varies as you go further down toward the narrower taper of the wing. Using the Iconyx provided us a way to cover the entire space not only horizontally but also to change the front and back coverage distance as the dimensions change.”
Twenty-two IC16-R-II columns are mounted about every 50 feet along the second floor walkway overlooking the main ticketing lobby. Custom brackets and fittings include metal wedges on the top of each cabinet to prevent their being mistaken for cup holders. “The beams are steered downward, each one a bit differently depending on the dimensions of the coverage area,” says Ledo. “It also provides a bit of a buffer zone right below the speakers in the ticketing counters themselves. You don’t want to bombard the ticketing counter itself with sound because agents are trying to talk to passengers. So being able to steer and direct the sound to where it needs to be helps provide that buffer.”
In both the ticketing lobby and baggage claim, the entire system is linked via RHAON networking, allowing for complex DSP programming to custom-steer each array independently using multiple beams. The RHAON software and on-board contact closures are also used to monitor each array for proper operation.
Charland concludes, “the Iconyx systems enabled us to create customized coverage patterns to fit each space, and afforded us a degree of control and monitoring over the systems that a facility like McCarran International Airport demands.”