Polaraudio and installer ProAV recently addressed a very demanding brief: leading French bank Societe Generale wanted to revolutionise the audio provision in its London offices – in St James' Square and Tower Hill – by combining the functions of a conferencing system with those of a public address system.
This formed part of a vast transformation plan launched by 'Soc Gen' in 2010 to adapt to industry changes, build a reputation as the relationship-focused bank and position itself among the leading European financial services groups. One of the themes of the transformation was to take full advantage of the benefits afforded by technological enhancements in the working environment.
Soc Gen required a system capable of allowing communications to flow across multiple locations in two different buildings. The system was to be flexible and easy to use whilst at the same time offering very high quality, clearly intelligible audio communications (and in some cases, video) capable of rising above the general hum of office and trading floor activities. This is a hothouse environment where success depends largely on effective communication of constantly updated information from a central point to a large number of traders and other staff. The system also needed the wider capacity to allow for individual 'broadcasts' – perhaps a visiting executive wishing to address a particular section and then expanding the coverage of the 'location broadcast' back into the boardroom or elsewhere.
Thus, presenters of communications needed to be mobile, have a range of microphone options (lapel, handset or headset) and be able to operate from primary and secondary locations in either building. Furthermore, given that SG operates in 76 countries around the world, the system was to provide external interfaces to facilitate remote audio access for people within SG buildings, nationally and internationally.
This was a complex and demanding brief. It is worth emphasising that for all of the permutations required, the audio quality had to be of the highest order: a trading floor would not be the place to mishear information.
Central to the solution designed by Polaraudio was the award-winning Biamp Tesira system. This line of digital signal processors is designed for use in large, extra-large and super-scale platforms and enabled the Polaraudio team to meet the challenge of simultaneously providing a conferencing facility and a public address system in one. Tesira as a 'protocol-agnostic' system could be employed through the existing SG corporate network to distribute the required audio and video traffic. The technical challenge of bridging two buildings to be seen as one seamless network was overcome using AVB and SIP protocols and as such was a ringing endorsement of Tesira's impressive capabilities.
beyerdynamic microphones were used exclusively throughout the project. The Opus 600 wireless Microphone System and the Stegos Wireless Microphone Boundary System were used extensively with a number of other beyerdynamic ancillary products. A combination of high quality, robustness and ease of use made the beyerdynamic range a natural fit in this environment. Over 200 rapid-fit 4in Australian Monitor speakers powered by Australian Monitor amps completed the picture.
Polaraudio describes the project as a challenging installation, to say the least. Obtaining the desired speaker coverage was very important. Audio had to be segmented across different zones and careful attention paid to localising sound as required in the different areas of the buildings. ProAV was further challenged by the fact that its access to the site was compromised by the tight time-frame allowed by limited downtime on the trading floors. The integrator had to work quickly, with no margin for error, to ensure that there was minimum disruption to trading while achieving accurate audio coverage. The work was completed to exact specification and, crucially, on time.
John Midgley, managing director of Polaraudio, reviewed the challenge: "At first sight, the brief for this work would appear to be tricky in the extreme. Combining the functions of conferencing and public address, flexibly, across distinctly different working areas of one building, would inevitably present a challenge. Extending that same facility across two separate buildings and one would expect any problems to be proportionally magnified. There was, of course, a great deal of hard work to be done but broadly speaking, after close consultation with ProAV over a system design, the use of Biamp Tesira cut straight through to the heart of the brief and demonstrated its capabilities with flying colours, to the great satisfaction of all parties."