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Pro Audio Asia reviews installation at Diocesan Boys' School

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CHINA: Tom Lee Engineering was recently called upon to provide a sound reinforcement solution for the 800-seat Yip Kit Chuen Concert Hall within the Yunni & Maxine Pao Auditorium at the Diocesan Boys' School in Mong Kok.

Founded in 1869, the school is one of the oldest secondary schools in Hong Kong with a long-established tradition of academic excellence and outstanding all-round achievement. Over the years, its students have won numerous awards, excelling in music and sports, whilst its senior school choir is regarded as one of the world’s leading youth male choirs.

The school’s newly opened auditorium (a former gymnasium) is dedicated to enhancing musical performances. The architectural design was provided by Thomas Chow, and incorporates a classic horn shape, which enhances the natural sound and the acoustics for speech intelligibility. However, Tom Lee Engineering was called upon in order to enhance the natural acoustics afforded to this structure. Of primary concern, the resultant sound system would need to blend into the concert hall’s design, without being too visually distracting.

Surrounded by reflective surfaces, EASE simulations highlighted the reflective surfaces, in which sound energy could easily bounce off the walls and ceilings. A pair of Axys Intellivox DS1608 column speakers were affixed to the upper sidewalls to the left and right hand sides of the stage, in which even coverage over the first 20m (-2dB loss) has been achieved. In addition to an extended frequency response of up to 18kHz, the 3.7m height column speakers provide long throw capabilities up to 108dB SPL at 50m.

The white, slim, unobtrusive DS1608 speakers integrate visually with the architectural curved patterns of the sidewall, eliminating flutter reflections whilst enhancing the overall Speech Transmission Index (STI) functionality due to its Digital Directivity Synthesis (DDS) technology. This offers each loudspeaker channel its own dedicated audio path through on-board DSP and amplification.

The desired 3D radiation pattern, prediction of statistical SPL distribution, transducer distance and array length from the loudspeakers array were measured by the algorithm program to normalise the frequency response, obtaining a direct-to-reverberant energy ratio and accurate directivity control. The front seats are catered for by four Duran Audio U-14 compact speakers, mounted onto the lip of the stage, whilst two B-215 Diff subwoofers have been placed in each corner in front of the stage providing full bandwidth down to 20Hz with front to back rejection.

Digital audio monitoring and control is provided either via an AMX portable tablet or an Apple iPad. The rear control room houses a Yamaha M7CL console, and a StageMix App has been downloaded onto the iPad allowing remote mixing capabilities. The M7CL is routed to a rack-mounted Yamaha DME24 digital mixing engine. The audio signals are fed digitally on a Cat-5 cabling infrastructure from the stage microphones via an Aviom 6416M system consisting of two Pro64 A-Net I/O cards, supporting 16 balanced mic channels simultaneously. Once mixed, the audio is returned digitally to the Mackie SRM350 stage monitors, HR624 control room monitors and Axys loudspeaker system. Also operating in the digital domain, an AKG DMS700 wireless microphone system offers transmission up to 155kHz frequency range, for which a PS4000W antenna splitter distributes signals to the SR4000 receivers.

Stunning audio quality has been matched by the visual entertainment on offer in the concert hall, for which a motorised 271-inch diagonal screen hosts presentations and Blu-ray films from an Eiki LC-HDT2000 theatre projector. Not only are students appreciative of the technology that highlights their performances, the audience is said to be ‘totally captivated’ by these displays, in which the pristine audio has been digitally refined and steered to each seat in the house.