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JBL Pro wins battle of Waterloo intelligibility

TG Baker Sound recently finished an audio upgrade at the London Waterloo train station in a multi-phase project that commenced before the London 2012 Olympics. The station has been equipped with Harman JBL Professional Intellivox loudspeakers.

The Blackburn-based sound specialist was appointed by Network Rail framework contractors to design a new audio system. The project began with the concourse area for the 2012 London Olympics, followed by the rest of the train shed and ancillary station areas after the games.

The London Waterloo is the UK’s largest and busiest railway station, providing the sound system designers with a significant challenge. The new solution needed to deliver clear and intelligible messages to the passengers in a station with a high reverberation time and high levels of background noise. For this reason, TG Baker chose loudspeakers from the Intellivox DDS (beam shaping) range to enable them to aim the sound where it was needed, at the passengers.

“In addition to the hostile acoustic environment of the station, there was also a number of other projects going on in the station simultaneously, which not only dictated the heights at which we could install the loudspeakers on the concourse, but also affected the general layout of the system,” commented said Scott McLucas, senior project engineer, TG Baker Sound. “The design on the main concourse changed several times due to advertising and retail balcony projects.”

TG Baker Sound mounted 21 JBL Intellivox DS180 loudspeakers in the concourse area in pairs at a height of 7.4m, with a single unit filling in the access route to platform 18. The main train shed has been fitted 50 Intellivox DSX280 loudspeakers spread across 18 platforms.

“This design for the concourse is unique in that the ideal mounting height of the beam-steering loudspeakers in this environment is typically 2.1m to 2.5m,” McLucas noted. “However, with the pressure from the other projects, we have the concourse loudspeakers mounted much higher.”

To overcome this challenge, TG Baker worked to develop the unusual design that would not only meet the architectural challenge, allowing the loudspeakers to be mounted at 7.4m, but would also do so while delivering an acceptable level of acoustic performance and intelligibility of the system.

“We have worked with Duran Audio on a stadium project previously in Dublin and have since been appointed the preferred Intellivox partner for the UK rail market,” McLucas added. “We continue to work closely with them on other major station projects and also tunnel projects which is a new market sector for us.”