Harman drives PA and emergency comms at first US Grand Prix track22 February 2013
The newly completed Circuit of the Americas (COTA), Austin, Texas, US, is the first purpose-built Grand Prix racetrack in the U.S. An integral part of COTA is its public address and Emergency Communication System (ECS), which features Harman’s BSS Audio networked digital signal processors and Crown power amplifiers as well as a Soundcraft Si Compact mixing console.
The 300-acre facility is built around a state-of-the-art 3.4-mile circuit track with a capacity for 120,000 fans. It hosted the 2012 Formula One United States Grand Prix, and upcoming races will include the MotoGP, FIA World Endurance Championship and American Le Mans Series.
“Although the audio system is used for announcements and music during races and other activities, a facility like Circuit of the Americas requires an emergency notification system that meets public safety requirements as mandated by the National Fire Protection Association,” explained Brian Elwell, senior consultant and vice president of design firm Acoustic Dimensions, which has an office location in Dallas, Texas and assited with the project. “The system has to serve as both a PA and an Emergency Communication System.”
Besides providing a track for major auto racing events, for the other 51 weeks of the year – the facility hosts concerts, events and activities both indoors and outdoors.
“The Soundweb London network is an integral part of making everything work, acting as a core system that runs all audio signals everywhere including emergency notification to the 20,000-seat amphitheater and 40,000 people in the Grand Plaza area,” continued Elwell. “As an example, we can instantly switch from using the PA system as a music source for a selected area in the complex to taking a single emergency paging mic and feeding it everywhere in the facility in case of a facility-wide emergency. We also have redundant signal paths to all audio components in the system to make sure everything is online, all the time.”
Local systems integrator Ford Audio-Video Systems installed audio processing and amplification in over 30 different rack locations around the track as well as the grandstand, pit building, Grand Plaza indoor facilities and COTA’S Tower Amphitheater.
A Soundcraft Si Compact 16 digital mixing console with CobraNet option card was selected to mix various audio sources. In addition, the console’s audio outputs were integrated with various other components in different parts of the installation. Meanwhile the CobraNet-compatible BSS Audio signal processing includes seven BLU-800 processors, two BLU-320 and six BLU-120 input/output expanders, three BLU-80 processors and 13 BLU-32 input/output expanders.
Also incorporated into the system are six BLU-10 programmable controllers. In addition to this, the Circuit of the Americas has been equipped more than 70 Crown amplifiers matched to different loudspeaker zones and requirements. Models include CTs 1200 USP4CN, CTs 4200A, CTs 3000 LITE, CTs 2000 LITE, CTs 1200 LITE, CTs 600 LITE, MA5000i, and 1160A devices.
“We chose Crown power amps since their onboard DSP is extremely effective, and they work hand in hand with BSS components via Harman HiQnet, noted David Battershell, project engineer for Ford Audio-Video Systems. “And in our experience the BSS Audio Soundweb London system enables designers and installers to provide an audio networking and processing solution for large-scale facilities at a price no other system can match. Harman’s HiQnet networking protocol links it all together and provides real-time monitoring status for all of the Soundweb London processing, Crown amplifiers and loudspeaker cable runs around the track. This ensures the system meets the emergency communication system standards as specified by the design team.”