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Harman IDX boosts safety and clarity at shopping mall

Paddy Baker 30 September 2015
Harman IDX Smaralind shopping mall

Harman’s IDX system, a hardware-software offering that takes Harman audio components and combines them with the information delivery system, is at the heart of a shopping mall’s technology refresh that has given audio quality a major boost.

Iceland-based distributor, installer and retailer ID Electronic was hired to lead the upgrade of the PA system at the Smáralind Shopping Mall in Kópavogur, Iceland’s second-largest city. Currently boasting more than 70 shops and restaurants, the mall had been plagued by a subpar public address system since the facility’s doors opened in 2001. With the goal of putting problems such as amplifier failures in the past, the mall’s management set out to overhaul the system.

Ingo Arnarson, president of ID Electronic, doesn’t deny that he had his doubts about whether or not the project would meet Speech Transmission Index for Public Address (STIPA) systems. The problem, as Arnarson saw it, was that the upgrade plans did not include replacing the loudspeakers. The solution, however, not only met the STIPA standards but also significantly improved the quality of the old loudspeakers.

For configurable signal processing, Arnarson selected Harman’s Soundweb London BLU-800s, all of which are served by the IDX controller. There are also three DT-715 paging stations and a DCi8|300 network. The IDX 200 server, which is the system’s core component, provides four channels of simultaneous message playback to different zones, is central to all paging commands and hosts the message announcements.

Having worked with Harman for more than a decade, Arnarson said that selecting components offered by a single vendor helps simplify installations, ultimately making them more affordable and user-friendly. “The more simplified, the better it is for everybody,” he said.

Accordingly, Arnarson said that IDX very quickly became the clear choice for the project. Prior to the upgrade, the system was used primarily for courtesy announcements and evacuation directives. The upgrade plans, however, called for more advanced capabilities. With the safety of shoppers in mind, the system needed to support an A/B network with interleaved  loudspeaker circuits that ensured the entire system would not be brought down by a single point of failure. The goal, according to Arnarson, was to create a system that would, in the case of an emergency, continue to convey critical safety information to people within the facility even if one component failed.

“Obviously there is a ton of choices on the market, but the Harman solution provides a premium paging communications system,” he said. “IDX uses CobraNet, the digital audio distribution protocol. That allows audio to be streamed over Ethernet, which is a key advantage because it makes it possible to connect the paging system to the existing network infrastructure. Also, this is all relatively easy to install.”

Another of the system’s key advantages, Arnarson said, is the level of support provided by Harman. “Justin Hankey, application engineer for Harman Professional EMEA, flew out and helped us program the IDX system,” he said. “The system was the most competitively priced and the most streamlined. And thanks to Justin, it was the system most supported by the vendor that developed the technology behind it. He took a personal interest in the project’s success, and that’s one of the main reasons we have such an impressive installation.”

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