The Messe Frankfurt exhibition centre has installed a QSC Q-Sys audio networking system to manage the PA/VA systems in one of its most important buildings, the Congress Center.
Accessed by two custom paging stations based on TSC-8 touchscreen controllers, the Core 1000-based Q-Sys system routes audio to and controls no fewer than 15 QSC CX254 amplifiers throughout the building, fed by seven DAB-801 redundant amplifier switchers.
Messe Frankfurt hosts international trade fairs annually including the Frankfurt Musikmesse and Prolight+Sound, the IAA car show and the international Book Fair.
The Congress Center Messe Frankfurt (CMF) houses conference and meeting rooms, and a large multi-purpose 2,200-capacity auditorium (known as the Harmonie hall) that can be divided into as many as 15 segments, each separately addressed by its own PA feed if required, or combined to make a single large conference and event hall. The floor in the Harmonie hall can be flat, or be lowered up to 3.2m in sections to create a raked audience seating area by means of bespoke underfloor hydraulic systems.
Prior to the introduction of Q-Sys, the Congress Center had a PA/VA system dating from 1996, but it no longer met the safety requirements of German and European regulations. Design consultant Frank Sokat of German firm IFB Consulting was engaged by the Messe administration to draw up the specification for a new system, which included the construction of a completely new control room.
"This was a project with many requirements," explained Sokat. "The new PA/VA had to fulfil the requirements of the German and European safety standards for such systems, DIN0828 and EN60849, and all of the components had to be networkable, with full redundancy possible. In terms of performance, the system had to be capable of dealing with up to 50 paging sub-networks, and to manage up to 60 different types of simultaneous audio input throughout its network at any one time, and up to 40 outputs. It had to interface with and route audio to and from the existing analogue loudspeaker systems, Crestron control systems and paging stations, which were not being replaced, while adding two new paging stations for fire alarm announcements and stage management in the Harmonie hall.
"Our choice to meet all of these very exacting requirements was Q-Sys. For control, we installed two TSC touchscreen panels. The one used for stage control in the Harmonie hall is portable and can be plugged in anywhere there is an Ethernet port; it's often used to control the systems from the dressing rooms. The other paging station/touchscreen controller is permanently installed in the fire control centre, next to the bidirectional communications with the fire brigade. Standard alarm messages can be called up and transmitted fast from the TSC-8 if required."
“We created the paging stations by customising QSC TSC-8s,” explained Torsten Haack, director of the Systems Group at Shure Germany, the local QSC distributor. “The one in the porter’s lodge at the fire control centre used a TSC-8 in combination with a Shure 514B microphone, while the mobile version used for stage control consisted of a TSC-8 and a Shure Microflex microphone.”
Shure Germany supplied the Core 1000-based system for the CMF building, which was then installed by local contractors BFE Studio und Mediensysteme. The Congress Center is in use all year round and never shuts down, so the Q-Sys system had to be installed alongside the older PA/VA system, and the older one switched off only when Q-Sys was up and running.
An audible improvement was noted in the quality of the sound throughout the building from the first day the new system was switched on. "The 100W amplifiers in the old system were running at full capacity all of the time, and were sometimes distorted," explained Sokat. "Now, with the 250W CX254s, they have 3 to 5dB of headroom at all times."
"So even though the old loudspeakers were retained throughout the Congress Center, the sound of the new PA/VA is much better," concluded Haack.
"The new audio system for alarm messages is further evidence that the congress infrastructure on the Messe Frankfurt exhibition grounds is among the very best in the world. We work continuously to improve and refine the quality of our facilities and add new services to benefit our customers. We apply this principle in every area from the types of rooms and spaces we can provide to the latest technical equipment and catering," says Claudia Delius-Fisher, director Congress Frankfurt at Messe Frankfurt.