‘I WANTED TO CREATE AN EXPERIENCE, A mood, something different. Usually, background music is quite boring and you don’t even hear it. We wanted to create another dimension with the music and make it fun, make it cool. A lot of places use normal ceiling speakers to ploy 6GM but we didn’t want that – we wanted something special.’
So says Patrick Garcia Fiat, general manager of the Royal Plaza on Scotts, a Singapore hotel with a difference. The Orchard Road, five-star business and leisure destination is fully independent and as such it prides itself on maintaining a uniquely luxurious cachet in Singapore’s competitive hotel industry. Nor have its efforts gone unnoticed – since It opened in 2001 it has picked up a wealth of awards.
But it is the lobby itself which has more recently become the focus of attention.
Boasting a marble floor, marble walls, two grand staircases, three large, glass domes in its ceiling and an interior design of glass and mirrors, it may be an acoustician’s nightmare, but It is undeniably beautiful. Moreover, it now boasts one of the boldest foreground music installations in the city.
‘You can have the best building arid the best facilities but a lot of people forget two things
– the lighting and the music. They are the two things that get left behind.’ continues Mr Fiat. ‘I wanted music here that was more than just 6GM. I wanted music that made people stop arid say wow.’
Despite the acoustic challenges of the interior. Mr Fiat has now taken delivery of a system that delivers precisely what he wanted. The solution is the result of a collaboration between brand enhancement specialist Simon Faure-Field, CEO of Equal Strategy. and David Seow of Control Logic Systems Pte Ltd (CLSPI), a man known for his ability to tame with acoustics. The two have worked in tandem together on projects for a decade, and while Mr Faure Field delivered the overall vision for Royal Plaza on Scotts. it was Mr Seow who brought the expertise necessary to make it a reality.
The system itself s subtle and understated, but its effect is dramatic. As visitors approach Royal Plaza on Scotts they are greeted first by an outdoor system of three 150W Polk Audio enclosures, covering the entrance with enough decibels to make an impression without becoming invasive. As the doors open, the music continues into the main lobby area transitioning into a truly foreground music experience. Remarkably, it is delivered by just two Axys U-14 enclosures (now produced under the JBL brand). The two enclosures are mounted in a left-right configuration, located directly in front of the staircases and firing downwards. Finally, as visitors move deeper into the lobby and approach the front desk, the sound pressure level fades to zero.
If the system seems unusually restrained, then that’s the porn – Mr Seow recognized immediately that a subtle touch was required to protect the hotel’s beauty. ‘Looking at the décor, I knew I couldn’t just hang some big boxes like a banana.’ he grins. Nevertheless, there was the reflective environment to contend with. ‘There is a lot of reverberation in the space, especially with the three domes. We knew it would be a nightmare for most technologies – the reflections are bad.’ Adding to the challenges, meanwhile, was a requirement that the system be tied into the hotel’s evacuation stem. ‘That’s a 100V line up there,’ says Mr Seow, indicating the U-14 enclosures. ‘It’s not an 8-ohm kind of stem, it’s just running on a 1OOV line. The challenge was to connect everything onto the building’s fire alarm system so if there is an alarm we cut the music’
Finally, and most surprising of all. was an unusual request that required an innovative solution – no cables. There was nowhere to run cables, confirms Mr Seow. It came as a shock, Simon and I brainstormed it and he suggested that we go wireless. I explained that it was a risk – I’ve never done wireless audio transmission before! But amazingy it turned out really well’ A simple 2.4G
Converge C200 series Wi-Fi transmitter from US brand EOS is located beneath the counter of ATOS. the lob’s restaurant, broadcasting to two receivers located on each of the U44 enclosures. ‘It’s something new and we like these kinds of challenges,’ says Mr Seow. As for the acoustically difficult environment, the Axys speakers have conquered it entirely, with some careful tuning on the part of Mr Seow. The playlist – determined by Mr FaureF ield – changes throughout the course of the day, gradually becoming more beat-orientated, while the mood changes completely during seasons such as Ramadan and Christmas, Spoken word promotional announcements are also delivered through the system. Yet everything Is crisp and clear.
“We picked speakers with a wide horizontal Coverage of 100-degrees but a very narrow vertical beam of 60-degrees,” expalns Mr Seow. We also conducted measurements to understand the reverberation and from there set the EQ in the DSP to tune the speakers for a certain range where they would sound nice but not cause reverberation. We had to be very precise – the coverage comes to about t5m from the floor and then fades out’
He’s clearly delighted with the result ‘The more challenging the environment is, the more interesting the project becomes.’ he declares. ‘To me it doesn’t matter if a project is big or small, it’s whether it’s interesting.’