Project Audio has installed 18 K-array Vyper KV52 slim arrays at the upmarket Burlington Arcade in London, distributing audio through the space via a closed WiFi mesh network solution.

‘First-of-a-kind’ WiFi mesh connects audio at historic arcade

A K-array background music system of Vyper compact line arrays has been installed at one of London’s most upmarket shopping arcades.

The new owners of Burlington Arcade, which opened in 1819, tasked London-based Project Audio with installing a sound system that would create a more welcoming ambience for shoppers.

Claire Munnelly, Project Audio’s director and project manager, says: “The challenge was to design a sound system that was not in any way intrusive either sonically or visually, which meant it had to be – to all intents and purposes – invisible. Additionally, because the system had to be plug-and-play and essentially maintenance free, it had to be electronically bullet-proof.”

As the options for speaker locations were limited to the spaces above the shop fronts, Project Audio opted for Vyper KV52 slim arrays, as their narrow vertical dispersion and wide horizontal dispersion allowed directivity to be focused accurately into the arcade’s concourse, while avoiding reflections from the opposite side.

Nine arrays are evenly spaced along each side of the arcade, supplemented by a pair of Rumble-KU44 subwoofers.

The arrays feature eight 1” neodymium drive units in a 50cm-high aluminium chassis that is painted white to blend in with the surroundings. Their IP65 ingress protection rating was a critical requirement for the application because the whole arcade, including the speakers, is cleaned by high-pressure water jets.

Due to the relative inaccessibility of the hardware once installed, the Project Audio design team decided to distribute the audio through the arcade via a closed WiFi mesh network – a group of connectivity devices acting as a single network that provides multiple, dedicated and super-stable connections along the length of the arcade.

“It’s highly encrypted and can’t be infiltrated, with no taxi communications traffic breaking through the audio,” says Munnelly. “It was developed by our internal R&D team and required hours of software programming. We believe it’s the first of its kind in an application like this.”

Central control for the audio system is located above a shop in the centre of the arcade, where the playback device connects to the start of the mesh network, repeating all the way down to each end of the arcade via the 18 separate speaker locations.

A representative of Burlington’s technical management team says: “Project Audio brought in some innovative ideas for making sure the speaker systems were discreet – we didn’t want prominently visible black speaker boxes in there – so we spent some time in choosing the right speaker systems with the right aesthetics.

“We’re happy with the sound of the speakers and that the system essentially operates ‘hands-off’ – it starts up on an automatic timer in the morning and doesn’t need any intervention. The background music is controlled from a tablet and creates a more relaxed atmosphere in the arcade.”

Reference : AVinteractive