In October of 2017 Sound Solutions was awarded the contract to upgrade the sound system at the Creston Recreation Centre. The sound system was last upgraded in 2009, however some of the equipment installed was imported from overseas, with no North American representation and parts available. The existing system had failed several times, causing interruptions of the operation of the recreation centre.
The building contains a pool, an arena, a curling rink, a large activity room, an aerobics room, and several smaller activity rooms. Sound Solutions had upgraded the speakers and amplifier for the Creston room in 2016, as the existing speakers did not properly cover the room. In addition, they were inexpensive ‘shopping mall’ speakers, designed only for background music. They did a poor job of sound reinforcement for weddings and meetings when the room was fully occupied. We installed 40 new Factor coaxial ceiling speakers with tuned cabinets, and installed a 1000 watt 4 channel TOA amplifier to provide enough power to drive the new speakers to a suitable volume and fidelity for large events.
The current upgrade of the sound system consisted of adding several new zones for the existing speakers to better suit the facility, and to upgrade the problematic audio matrix switching system with a new QSC Core 110f and touch screen. After discussions, it was decided that we would also supply the facility with wireless IPad control throughout the building, using the existing Wifi network already installed at the Creston Recreation Centre. New equipment and system features included:
- New QSC Core 110f digital signal processor and I/O-8 Flex expander unit
- 7” touch screen at the reception area
- Wireless Ipad controls of the sound system throughout the building
- Paging mic at the reception area
- New wall mounted aerobics rack to replace the aging portable unit
- Bluetooth audio receivers throughout the building to wirelessly connect to the sound system
- Factor lockable mic and music input plates throughout the building
- Local background music control in each room
- Zone combining preset buttons to tie various zones together for large events such as swim meets, trade shows and hockey games
- New speakers in the curling rink and one of the meeting rooms
- Replacement of the audio rack to a more suitable AV rack and cleanup of the rack wiring
- Installation of spare wiring for future expansion.
We completed the installation over a 2 week period, working around ongoing events and classes at the recreation centre. The arena, pool, and fitness room sound systems were kept operational while the main sound rack was being rewired. Some work was done after normal operating hours as well.
While the pool speakers and amplifiers were kept intact from the existing system, we added two Bluetooth receivers, one in the guard room and one on the pool deck, along with two Factor mic and music input plates, so that any type of audio device can be connected at either location.
We split the sound system up into three zones, the curling rink, the curling lounge located on the second floor, and the curling rink viewing area. Previously these were all tied together, and all three areas had to have the same audio playing simultaneously. By splitting the areas up, each zone could now have independent audio and level control, without affecting the other areas.
We also upgraded the curling rink speakers by adding four Community CS-8 speakers, an upgrade from a single speaker that provided poor fidelity and coverage. Factor mic and music input plates were installed in each location.
Each new zone has the ability to select independent background music sources via the Ipad or touch screen, and each zone can have local microphone and music connected to the sound system as well.
We separated the main arena sound from the arena lobby area, allowing separate music and mic sources to be played in each area. On the QSC touch screen, we have the ability to combine the lobby and arena zones for hockey games and other larger events in the arena.
We added a new wall mounted rack that contains the aerobics wireless mic, the CD player, and now contains a Bluetooth receiver as well as a wired microphone and music connector for non-aerobics functions taking place in the space. As with the other areas, the Factor mic and music input plate allows end users to turn the background music off at the rack without having to call to the front desk.
We chose to wire up a new sound system rack in our shop prior to arriving on site, to improve the quality of the rack itself, and to save time on site. All equipment in the rack was tested for 2 weeks prior to shipping it to Creston, and a new CSA approved power bar and a wiring tray were installed to keep the complex wiring neat. Upon arriving on site, some of the existing amplifiers were transferred to the new rack as they were in good condition.
The audio from all zones was fed to the new QSC system so that the front desk paging mic would override the zone audio, and if the fire alarm was triggered, the entire sound system would mute as per current fire regulations.
The key to operating the sound system is the touch screen at the front desk. It controls the volume levels to all zones, and is preset so that even at maximum volume, speakers and amplifiers are not damaged due to excessive volume. The touch screen is broken up into several pages based on the areas and audio zones. The background music source is selectable per zone as well.
There is a password protected set of pages accessible only to the facility manager, that sets the paging mic volume level, as well as the room combining presets. This prevents the end users and staff from accidentally combining the various audio zones, causing disruption to events.
One unique aspect of the room combining function is that there are five presets that are commonly used for special events, but there’s also a ‘custom’ room combining function available, that allows the managed to combine any of the 14 zones as desired. Setting the custom room combining function is done via a numeric keypad, and requires no learning curve.
The front desk touch screen is duplicated on the Ipad for ease of use. One concern that we are approached with is the security of having the sound system accessible via Wifi. Here’s the steps we took to make sure an end user can never access the sound system.
- The app has to be downloaded from the Apple store
- The private rec centre Wifi network needs to be accessed via a (complex) password
- Even if the network password is known, the single IP address to access the sound system also needs to be known, making outside access virtually impossible.
Client training went well, and all staff appreciated the simplicity of the operation of the system. We supplied management with a spare Factor plate to have on hand, along with some connecting cables between a music source and the various input plates. Finally, a line drawing showing the structure of the sound system and a full operations manual was supplied, along with a copy of the QSC software and programming.