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Allen & Heath drives tour of McConnell’s Irish whisky distillery

The Allen & Heath AHM-64 matrix processor, alongside Martin Audio speakers and amplifiers, as well as Ayla interactive touch screens, powers the tourist attraction, in North Belfast

An Allen & Heath AHM-64 matrix processor was at the heart of a new AV set-up at McConnell’s Irish Whisky Distillery, in North Belfast, Northern Ireland, housed within a restored listed building in the historic A-wing of Crumlin Road Gaol. Martin Audio speakers and amplifiers, as well as Ayla interactive touch screens, were also integrated into the meeting rooms and tour elements. The business offers guided tours that explore the stories of Belfast’s distilling past and the history of the brand dating back to 1776.

The Allen & Heath AHM-64 matrix processor sits at the heart of the AV system, facilitating the management of audio across multiple zones throughout the building, operating different sounds as required for the tourist attraction.

With 64 zone outputs, echo cancelling and audio networking options, AHM-64 is designed for multi-room installations in hospitality, corporate and education environments. For additional system I/O, including feeds into the assistive listening systems in every room, REA Sound integrated a DX88-P, comprising 8 inputs and 8 outputs on Euroblock connectors, and a DX012, which can be configured to provide a combination of analogue and AES outputs. Both units connect to the AHM via a 128×128 SLink option card.

Within each of the eight zones an Allen & Heath IP1 – a programmable wallplate controller designed to give the non-technical user control via a single push-and-turn rotary – allows the tour guide to recall a preset with their name as they enter the room, automatically assigning their head microphone to the correct speakers while feeding the induction loop for that area.

Additionally, an Allen & Heath CC-7 control touch panel is located in reception with a custom-designed GUI – created using Allen & Heath’s Custom Controller software – allowing paging and simple playback control.

Rea Sound, a professional audio-visual distribution, installation and design company, designed and implement the unique solution. They primarily focused on the public tour elements throughout the building, including the café, bar, meeting rooms, and the main wing of the gaol. Guests also get to experience a Pepper’s ghost – an illusion technique where the image of an object off-stage is projected and appears to be in front of the audience – designed and implemented by Rea Sound, which is a highlight at the heart of each tour.

Oran McGuckin, technician at Rea Sound, ensured the effective installation of Martin Audio speakers and amplifiers. Ayla interactive touch screens were also seamlessly integrated into the meeting rooms and tour elements.

Graeme Millar, head of supply and operations, McConnell’s Irish Whisky Distillery, said: “Working with Rea Sound has made this install so easy. The depth of knowledge and experience has brought together a great overall system for us. The ease of use for us has been important, with adaptability and reliability surpassing everything we asked for. The custom paging system also makes it easy for our staff to announce easily to the required areas.”