An icon of the modern People’s Republic of China, Beijing’s Great Hall of the People is truly a towering architectural achievement. The 1.9million square foot (171,800 sq m) hall, overlooking the city’s Tiananmen Square, was originally constructed in just 10 months, officially opening in September 1959 to mark the 10th anniversary of the PRC. Designed by Zhang Bo, it has since become famous worldwide as the home of the National People’s Congress.
Most recently, the Great Hall was once again on the global stage as the historical 12th National People’s Congress convened in March. But as the world watched Xi Jinping become the new president of the People’s Republic, a small group of audio technicians and specialists were busy ensuring that a very discreet, very special audio system was helping delegates to hear every moment with perfect clarity.
Renkus-Heinz Iconyx digitally steerable column arrays now form the backbone of the sound reinforcement systems within the iconic building. Commissioned by the Management Office of The Great Hall of People and designed by China’s Radio, Film & TV Design and Research Institute (RFT), the new system takes in six large conference rooms and, most impressively, the Great Hall’s famous and striking conference auditorium.
The high-profile, high-pressure project offered a unique set of challenges for contractor Beijing Zhongdahuatang Technology Co Ltd., particularly the Great Hall’s massive conference auditorium. The circular chamber can accommodate an audience of thousands, measuring approximately 130 ft (40 m) in diameter, with a 33 foot (10 m) ceiling. Not surprisingly, the room’s acoustics are less than ideal. As a Beijing Zhongdahuatang Technology Co Ltd. spokesperson explains, “the auditorium has a very difficult acoustical environment, with reverberation problems and reflections.”
With its elaborate and ornate decor recognizable by billions, the room’s aesthetics were also a foregone conclusion. The room would require a system that could deliver clear speech intelligibility and flawless coverage while remaining virtually invisible to onlookers.
A single pair of Renkus-Heinz Iconyx IC32-R-II column arrays provides the ideal solution. Installed to the far left and right side of the Chairman’s position, each column is made up of arrays of coaxial transducers, each with its own triple tweeter array. The Iconyx beam steering technology makes it possible to achieve even coverage in even the most problematic spaces by focusing sound where it needs to be, and away from reflective surfaces.
“The Iconyx IC32-R-II columns now provide consistent SPL wherever an audience member might be, whether they are in the front of the hall, the middle or at the back of the auditorium,” reports Beijing Zhongdahuatang Technology Co Ltd. “Even though the auditorium has such a difficult environment, the Iconyx beam steering technology covers the whole auditorium with evenly distributed sound while avoiding the walls, the ceiling and delegate microphones.”
Nor have the IC32-R-II columns infringed upon the all-important décor. According the technical team, “the thin cabinet design makes the columns easy to conceal within an installation – you hardly notice that there is a column speaker there.”
Iconyx technology has been deployed elsewhere throughout the complex, including the six smaller conference rooms, each measuring 1000 s.f (300 sq-m) seating 90 people. Each room has been equipped with two IC8-R-II columns, concealed within the marble walls to once again ensure the most discreet solution possible. Despite the highly reflective atmosphere within each of the spaces, the Iconyx columns are successfully delivering clear speech in every area.
The completed system is a triumph for the team at Beijing Zhongdahuatang Technology Co Ltd., and for Iconyx technology, solving one of the toughest acoustic environments in one of the highest profile buildings in the world. And while that success will be obvious to all who hear the system in action, the loudspeakers themselves will remain out of sight.