Date posted: October 16, 2013
Technomad loudspeakers enliven “water lagoon experience” for visitors while giving zoo long-term outdoor audio solution
The systems design and integration experts at Clearwing Productions last year overhauled the Phoenix Zoo’s annual seasonal spectacular “ZooLights,” transforming a linear roadside display into an immersive, 360-degree audio and lighting experience that encircled the zoo’s central water lagoon. The advanced audio system from Technomad performed so well that zoo officials opted to use the system year round, delivering multi-zone background and event music to visitors across the lagoon area.
The Phoenix Zoo initially hired Clearwing Productions to increase the production value of the annual lighting show, though the two teams quickly determined that the audio system was underperforming – not to mention falling apart.
“The Phoenix area is inundated with sun and UV rays, which is very tough on outdoor products,” said Nick Pitman, service and systems engineer, Clearwing Productions. “The previous speakers were dry rotted or full of water, and most had cracks from UV rays. They wanted something that would produce great audio and last more than a year. That’s when we looked at Technomad.”
Technomad delivered an advanced outdoor audio solution comprising 24 loudspeakers, 12 subwoofers and multiple wired power amplifiers, all fully weatherproof to protect against UV rays and other outdoor elements. The Clearwing design included 12 speaker poles surrounding the lagoon, each with two Paris weatherproof loudspeakers pointing in opposite directions from a height of 16 feet. One Technomad Chicago subwoofer and two PowerChiton amplifiers were added to the base of the pole.
The PowerChiton amplifier modules simplified the installation for the Clearwing team and ultimately reduced project costs for the Phoenix Zoo, eliminating lengthy complex underwater wiring jobs to connect traditional indoor amplifiers to outdoor loudspeakers.
“We knew that we wanted an outdoor amplifier that was simple in design but offered longevity,” said Pitman. “This solution gives us 120 volts and a speaker line output in a compact, outdoor-rated package. One PowerChiton feeds the Paris loudspeakers and another feeds the subwoofer on each pole. Most importantly, the PowerChiton design has no fans, eliminating any heat-related performance problems. They just keep working.”
The end-to-end distributed audio architecture includes Harman or BSS equipment to route, zone and delay signals for everyday use or special events as required. Network protocol signals are converted back to balanced audio en route to the PowerChitons. From there, the Paris loudspeakers deliver full-range musical reproduction with broad dispersion across the entire lagoon, with the Chicago subwoofers filling in the low end with additional bass output.
“The zoo had previously used rock speakers, and after the lighting upgrade they made it clear they wanted to add real audio,” said Pitman. “The Paris loudspeakers cover the area thoroughly, while the subs emphasize specific points in the music or dramatic show scenes without pushing the bass to nightclub levels. Everyone involved agrees that this was the most effective outdoor audio solution for the job.”