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K-array system tames reverb at historic Florentine hall

The Salone dei 500 of Palazzo Vecchio in Florence has installed its first fixed audio system, due to the sheer number of events now being hosted at the historic hall. The system in composed of eight K-array Kobra-KK102 loudspeakers and two Thunder-KMT18 subs, integrated by Expomeeting.

The 54m-long, 23m-wide, and 18m-high space is said to be the largest and most important room in terms of artistic and historic value as well as being the largest room in Italy made for a civil power palace.

Originally built during the Renaissance to host meetings for representatives of the democratic government of the Florentine Republic, or the Great Council of 500, the Salone dei 500 has changed overtime to accommodate every owner of the palace. Transforming from a hall commemorating important battles with artworks to be commissioned by the two greatest Florentine artists of the time, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, to the boardroom of the Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici, where he received ambassadors and gave audience to the people.

The number of events held in the hall prompted organisers to seek a fixed audio system with the ability to adapt to the different occasions. The audio installation required optimal coverage of the Salon di 500, keeping the visual impact as low as possible. Given their discreetness and powerful throw as well as the Florentine connection, K-array was the obvious choice.

The biggest challenge the hall poses is the level of reverberation. The large frescoed walls, the very high ceilings and lack of specific acoustic treatment tend to abruptly reflect the sound. Traditional speakers tend to distribute the sound in all directions, resulting in a great deal of energy sent to the walls and ceiling. To avoid the resulting reflections, which create a sort of rumble sound and damages the intelligibility inside the room, integrators Expomeeting proposed a Kobra line array speaker system. The Kobra line arrays are able focus the sound beam on the vertical plane, meaning the sound energy concentrates along the axis of the diffuser and is not distributed towards the ceiling.

“This behaviour is all the more accentuated as the column is long, which is why we proposed to install two 3m columns on each side of the stage,” explained K-array product specialist and system designer, Daniele Mochi. “This configuration not only minimises reverb, but also effectively covers the entire salon, despite its 50m length.”

To ensure sufficient sound pressure at lower frequencies, the two 18in subwoofers were added, which also served as support for the column speakers. The amplifier inside the subwoofers also allows the passive columns to be piloted, making the installation easy and functional.

And for proper monitoring for guest speakers or performers on the stage, two additional Kobra-KK102 line array speakers were installed vertically behind the main system.