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Feature: Leader of the pack

Feature: Leader of the pack
The nature-inspired Garden Ballroom is designed to host wedding banquets and corporate events Image courtesy of Parkroyal Collection

Feature: Leader of the pack

The Parkroyal Collection Marina Bay has undergone a major AV upgrade during Singapore’s circuit breaker. Richard Lawn checks in – virtually, of course

As the covid-19 pandemic lingers stubbornly on, tourism continues to be one of the sectors hardest hit in APAC. With Singaporean hotels forced to close their doors to guests, one in four have been transformed at the request of the government into facilities for so-called stay-home notices (SHN). Here, expats were required to quarantine within the guest rooms for 14 days. However, over at the Parkroyal Collection Marina Bay, it was business as usual for Concept Systems Technologies (CST) as the systems integrator worked around the circuit breaker measures to upgrade the audiovisual and lighting system within the public areas.

Previously known as the Marina Mandarin Singapore, the Parkroyal Collection Marina Bay is a significant landmark on the waterfront cityscape with its impressive architecture. New owner the Pan Pacific Hotels Group, which acquired the property in 2019, ordered a complete renovation of the existing building as the group expands its hospitality ventures to new, key markets. Singaporean hotels fully appreciate that enhanced AV technology often makes all the difference when wooing a corporate client or a wedding party to their ballroom. To maintain that competitive edge, some follow the pack while others seek to differentiate themselves by providing unique features.

Concept Systems Technologies’ project manager, CK Lim
Concept Systems Technologies’ project manager, CK Lim

Although CST has previously undertaken works for the existing hotel in addition to the new owners, the company was nevertheless required to submit a tender bid for the proposed works. Having branched out into other verticals including houses of worship and education over the years, CST’s growing list of glowing hotel references can be attributed to its detailed, futureproofed designs and ease-of-use functionality. The fusion of dazzling LED walls, lighting effects and audio intelligibility that CST consistently delivers ensures that its trademark signature remains in high demand among aspirational five-star properties. With the tender bid approved, CST project manager CK Lim and his team was approved to go onsite over three protracted phases throughout the ongoing pandemic.

With a mission to provide a holistic hospitality experience with impeccable service to guests, quality sound featured as a high priority when selecting a suitable system for the new pillar-free Garden Ballroom. Designed to host wedding banquets and corporate dining events, the 767m2 nature-inspired venue on level one can be divided and partitioned into three separate rooms for smaller, corporate seminars. Acoustic and AV consultant CCW Associates was tasked with the technical specifications of the Garden Ballroom. As is the norm, an essential requirement was that all speakers needed to be concealed at their installation points within the elegant interior.

Concept Systems Technologies’ project and sales director,
Gerald Fong
Concept Systems Technologies’ project and sales director, Gerald Fong

CST project and sales director Gerald Fong explains that the system previously installed in the space had limited sound power and coverage ability. “A stereo pair of point source enclosures and 6.5-inch ceiling speakers had been distributed across the 4.2m-high ballroom,” he says. “Unfortunately, the technical limitations of the system prevented the team from being able to push the levels to their desire.”

As an L-Acoustics certified provider Fong, together with his colleague Jimmy Lim, proposed the low-profile design of the French manufacturer’s Syva system on account of its exceptional coverage capability. CCW was invited to a demonstration at the company’s Ubi showroom and left suitably impressed. The L-R stereo design would be augmented by a distributed network of L-Acoustics 5XT ultra-compact coaxials on account of their high output-to-size ratio. Crucially, Soundvision modelling confirmed that the combination would achieve both power and even dispersion while providing discretion.

Offering a full 140° horizontal coverage across the 36m-wide ballroom, the pair of L-Acoustics Syva cabinets are neatly concealed within doorframes behind fabric on either side of the Garden Ballroom stage. Low-frequency extension is provided by a pair of Syva Low enclosures embedded in the ceiling area close to the stage.

Concealed within door frames, L-Acoustics Syva columns provide horizontal coverage
Concealed within door frames, L-Acoustics Syva columns provide horizontal coverage

Each divisible section of the ballroom is served by six compact 5XT speakers, with CST using its expertise to conceal the cabinets within the ceiling architecture. Fixed into position pointing downwards, the evenly dispersed 5XT coaxials provide full-range clarity with 110° dispersion. Providing a clear low-end response down to 27Hz, six additional Syva Subs are hidden in the rear and side ceiling area. Rackmounted in a rear ELV room, two L-Acoustics LA4X and three L-Acoustics LA2Xi amplified controllers power the 5XTs and subwoofers, respectively, over 4O of impedance.

Fong reflects on the success of a concert-grade sound system that guests can enjoy as an integral part of the luxurious Parkroyal Collection Marina Bay experience. “The Syva system looks, sounds and feels comfortable for guests who come here to celebrate some of life’s most momentous occasions,” he says. The system is equally appreciated by event organisers. “We have had events companies coming to this venue for setup and, when they recognise and hear the L-Acoustics Syva installed, they will promptly request to use the system for the event. I believe they are pleasantly surprised by a system that is well-hidden in the beautiful interior design, delivering pristine sound for their clients and guests.”

Image courtesy of Parkroyal Collection
Image courtesy of Parkroyal Collection

Room dividing and combining DSP settings have been accurately programmed within the SymNet software of a 12-input, 8-output Symetrix NX 12x8 processor. Despite having only been appointed as the Singaporean distributor for Symetrix in 2018, CST has been specifying the US brand for its projects for many years. “The SymNet software is easy to programme in addition to being versatile, scalable, flexible and straightforward,” explains CST programmer, Sofyan. “As with most of our hotel projects, the Symetrix processors are programmed as standalone systems without networking requirements. In addition, the wall panels are straightforward to install and easy to navigate for users.”

Each divisible ballroom is equipped with customised AV wall panels incorporating audio, HDMI, USB and VGA inputs and speakON connectors in the rear room in addition to the front and side sections of the stage. Belden 8760 two-core shielded cabling routes the microphone and line signals to AVP audio patch panels, while Canare coaxial cables have been installed for composite video signals and 24DV-2U patch panels are equipped for BNC video signals.

The uncertainty of hotel bookings brought about by the pandemic led to inevitable budget cuts for the project. However, the main visual output of the Garden Ballroom was spared. CCW and the hotel management team were given a tour of the Orchard Hotel grand ballroom, where CST had engineered two spectacular LED screens in 2019. Having been impressed by the screen’s flexibility of orientation in either portrait or landscape mode, the tour party insisted on its inclusion.

Drawing the main focus of attention onto the front stage, a 9.6m x 3.36m LED screen is offset by two 3.36m x 1.92m AOTO LED screens to the left and right in ballrooms A and C. The 2.5mm pixel pitch of the central LED wall comprises of 122 U2.5 M2.5C 480mm x 480mm tiles fixed to brackets, while the lateral LED walls each consist of 28 tiles. 4K resolution imagery is processed by an ATLVC-HS/3 LED control system, which is managed from a PC loaded with Blue Peacock software. Three Datavideo PTC-140 PTZ cameras serve as the main inputs into a Kramer VS-88UHDA 8x8 digital matrix switcher. When partitioned, Epson LCD projectors and LAV motorised screens can be utilised in the left and right sections for smaller-scale presentations and events.

Concept Systems installed AOTO LED displays in the Atrium Ballroom
Concept Systems installed AOTO LED displays in the Atrium Ballroom

Wireless Apple iPad touchscreens are used to manage AV and lighting parameters programmed into the Crestron AV3 processor in the rear ELV room. Each ballroom is equipped with Crestron C2N-CBD eight-button control keypads for individual control when divided, and a Furman CN-3600 power sequencer has been added to provide ease of powering up (and down) the AV system.

Phase one works on level one included the fitting out of two function rooms adjacent to the Garden Ballroom. Keeping with the garden theme, Clover 4/5 and 6/7 are divisible, but when combined have been designed to accommodate 171 and 124 seated guests, respectively. VGA and HDMI sources can be sent to floor boxes for outputting to Epson EB-L1070U 7,000-lumen LCD projectors on customised lifts for displaying on 2.44m x 2.44m motorised screens. Powered by a single Powersoft Ottocanali 1204 eight-channel amplifier, a network of Apart CMRQ108 5.25-inch ceiling speakers provide audio playback and clear speech from Shure SLX wireless handheld and head-worn transmitters. Simplified room combining and dividing DSP presets stored in a Symetrix Solus NX 4x4 processor can be recalled via Crestron control.

Phase two of the project was played out from October 2020 on levels four and five. The main focus of activity took part in the Atrium Ballroom, which can host up to 300 guests and comes with a private foyer with commanding views of the indoor atrium. The 346m2 venue on level five can host bilateral events with the Garden Ballroom four levels below thanks to the provision of a 100m AV and control tie line.

The foyer area of the Garden Ballroom
The foyer area of the Garden Ballroom

Like its bigger brother, the Atrium Ballroom is defined by a unique, but slightly lower, 4m ceiling height that has been cropped down to 2.5m and could not house regular loudspeaker outputs. Having conducted works in the same hotel prior to the current contract, CST had unwittingly futureproofed the current Pan Pacific Hotel Group’s investment. Both the Yamaha M7CL digital live console and the pre-existing Electro-Voice Evid 8.2C speaker system were passed for continued use. “The EV 8-inch ceiling speakers had to be reorientated horizontally and disguised from view in overhead black panels,” explains Fong. Lighting in the form of 14 Martin Rush MH 5 moving heads had only been installed by CST in 2018.

Set up as a smaller replica of the Garden Ballroom, the main AOTO 6.24m x 1.92m 4K LED wall comprises 52 tiles. “Owing to a limited stage depth of 1.5m, we had to customise the LED wall so that it can be controlled from a dedicated wall panel to move forwards or backwards electronically on tracked rails,” explains Lim. “The solution allows the hotel to conceal or reveal the mini stage depending on whether the function is hosting a presenter onstage or playing a video.”

Three Datavideo PTC-140 PTZ cameras serve as the main inputs into a Kramer VS-88UHDA 8x8 digital matrix switcher. Wall-mounted on the left and right walls to mirror the level one venue, added visual outputs have been installed in the form of Samsung 98-inch HD displays. Added audio, HDMI and VGA input connectivity has been built in with custom AV wall-mounted panels discreetly integrated into the front and the rear of the stage.

The project played out over several levels of the hotel
The project played out over several levels of the hotel

Full AV and lighting control is managed from eight-button control keypads and iPad touchscreens connected to a programmed Crestron AV3 room processor. Kramer TP-752T transmitters and TP-752R receivers were added to ensure no degradation of signals.

Standalone BGM systems have been integrated into the Peach Blossoms restaurant, gym and St Gregory spa area on level five, in addition to the Peppermint restaurant on level four. In both restaurants, Symetrix Solus NX 8x8 eight-zone mixer distribution amplifiers receive inputs including Apart PCR 3000 MKIII audio players. Apart Revamp 4120T eight-channel amplifiers output 100V line signals to a network of Apart CM60 5.25-inch ceiling speakers. Both the Atrium Lounge on level four and the gym rely on Symetrix Zone Mix 761 DSP units for paging and BGM control for up to six zones equipped with Apart CMRQ108 wall-flush and Mask 6T 8-inch speakers. Used by fitness instructors, the two gym studios distinguish themselves with higher output Bose FreeSpace3 surface-mount satellite speakers and Powersoft Mezzo 322 amplifiers.

L-Acoustics systems were selected for the divisible Garden Ballroom
L-Acoustics systems were selected for the divisible Garden Ballroom

The final act of the upgrade for CST was staged in the pool area in May 2021, where another Symetrix Zone Mix 761 DSP unit provides paging and BGM control. The Apart components creating the BGM solution include a PCR 3000 MKIII mixer for hosting wireless microphones and other inputs and Revamp eight-channel amplifiers for outputting the various signals to a network of Mask 6T cabinets and CM30 ceiling speakers.

Having commenced and concluded the AV upgrade works between a circuit breaker programme and phase two restrictions almost 12 months later, CST endured its fair share of Covid-19 obstacles onsite. “The works on their own were relatively straightforward,” stresses Lim. “But timeline changes, manpower issues and Covid regulations constantly affected our efforts. There were occasions when an outbreak would be detected onsite, leading to an immediate stopping of works, which was naturally frustrating.”

Soundvision modelling highlights ideal locations for the Syva Subs and Lows in ballroom ceiling
Soundvision modelling highlights ideal locations for the Syva Subs and Lows in ballroom ceiling

Hotel projects may be the norm for CST, but the integrator’s success in supplying eye-catching AOTO LED screens has led to a growing demand for these among hospitality groups. “During our time onsite at Parkroyal, we also supplied and installed LED displays into the neighbouring Ritz Carlton,” continues Lim.

Indeed, when it comes to hotel AV upgrades, an AOTO LED screen is commonly the only technology on display. The responsibility to differentiate a property lies with the interior designer, whose vision for the end result dictates the work of the systems integrator. Keeping out of the limelight, like the bulk of the technology the company discreetly installs, Lion State hospitality specialist CST seems to be able to check out any time it likes but is never allowed to fully leave.

Each divisible ballroom section is discreetly served by six L-Acoustics 5XT coaxials
Each divisible ballroom section is discreetly served by six L-Acoustics 5XT coaxials

This feature appears in the September-October editon of Pro AVL Asia. Subscribe at www.proavl-central.com/subscribe/asia.



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