27.01.09

Atlantis rising

AUTHOR: Inavate
The hotel lobby is dominated by a glass Chihuly sculpture

The Atlantis resort, that crowns the Palm Jumeirah in Dubai, boasts its own monorail stop, a mile of beach, a $25,000-a-night suite and a staggering audiovisual installation.

Home of two huge man-made islands, an iconic sale-shaped luxury hotel, soon the tallest building in the world and the second largest man-made marina, Dubai must be a hard place to make an impact. But, covering 64 stadium sized football pitches and employing 3,500 members of staff, the Atlantis resort has had a go.

The $1.5bn ocean-themed retreat rises from The Crescent, an 11km breakwater that protects the Palm Jumeirah man-made island. Kerzner International Holdings and Istithmar developed the 17,055-room complex.

Kerzner appointed Laing O’Rourke as structural contractor and manager and drafted in Shen Milsom Wilke (SMW) as audiovisual consultant. Jasper Whitaker, business development manager at Omnix Media Networks, led his sales team in a bid that saw the Dubai headquartered company appointed as sub contractor for the audiovisual installation.

Whitaker then set about transforming SMW’s designs into workable solutions. “We kept the core design of what the consultant wanted in terms of the type of DSP product we were using and the use of remote rack-rooms around the resort,” began Whitaker. “But because the consultants work seemed to have been completed about two years before we came on board there were a lot of architectural changes and even parts of the resort that were no longer being built.” Whitaker claims his team saved the project half a million USD in the re-design without any loss of functionality.

Then he hit a complication. “The system to deliver background music around the resort was designed around a CobraNet infrastructure, which did not support the network.” There was no way extra cabling could be installed at that stage and if Whitaker couldn’t find a way around the problem he would have to resort to individual sound systems, dotted around the hotel.

“The only thing we were able to do with CobraNet was monitoring and control but the ability to share audio across all the various rackrooms was no longer possible,” recalls Whitaker. Eventually a solution was found using audio over IP and Logitech Squeezeboxes.

Forty BSS London Blu processors directly feed 55 Crown CT amplifiers equipped with CobraNet interface cards and create a source-to-speaker digital signal path. Monitoring and control is via HiQnet software. Each London Blu-80 processor is installed on one of the 25 variously located amplifier racks rather than in a central location, interconnecting with the amplifiers and BGM sources via Cat5e cable and Ethernet hardware, with network hops maximised at 90m. Four Blu-80 input/output cards accommodate both analogue and digital inputs and outputs in banks of four. In instances where simple I/O expansion is required, the Blu-32 has been preferred as it provides identical I/O configuration to the Blu-80, but without configurable audio processing, allowing inputs and outputs to be routed to and from the audio network. Each rack uses Furman processing to protect the equipment and improve audio.

Two sources are streamed to each local rack via the BSS Soundweb London Scheduler over existing IBM servers, which are primarily transporting on-demand video content throughout the hotel and its guestrooms. By hitching a ride on this existing network, local access and output can be made via IP-networkable Logitech Squeezeboxes, equipped with 24- bit audio converters.

There is one master control room with three operator positions, from which all systems can be controlled. Whitaker explains: “One is for signage, including the creation, uploading, management and scheduling of content. We have an AV control point, which is for control and management of the background music and the remote control of AMX control systems around the building. Finally the third terminal deals with IPTV. This is an interactive television and background music content management server log for uploading new content or monitoring incoming TV channels.”

Sixteen London Blu-10 touch-screen controls allow facility managers around Atlantis to switch between four audio sources and adjust the volume of the sound in their zone. The Blu-10 connects into a Soundweb London network via its Ethernet port via standard Cat5 cable and an Ethernet switch. The London Blu processing required the use of Crown’s CTs series of amplifiers throughout the resort, in order to enable the integration of HiQnet and CobraNet, allowing monitoring and control features, and digital audio transport. The two-channel 600, four-channel 4200 and eight-channel 8200 models used to power the Tannoy speaker system have been fitted with DSP-based PIP-USP3 modules, allowing integration into the Ethernet network via TCP/IQ protocol.

More than 1,000 Tannoy ceiling, in-wall and speaker cabinets serve interior corridors, conferencing areas, food and beverage outlets and other public areas. Three hundred weatherised Bose, Soundtube and Tannoy speakers are installed outdoors.

The foyer’s tall domed ceiling incorporates Tannoy CMS 12 speakers (12” coaxial) and the low-ceiling corridors are generally fitted with CMS401 and CMS601 models (4” and 6” woofers respectively). Whitaker: “The whole system is based on, to some extent, automated control in terms of audio levels.” Sixty-three ceiling-mounted Crown PZM-11LL level sensing microphones send current ambient SPL information to the amplifiers, allowing automatic volume adjustments to be made.

In public areas of the hotel, digital signage from Janus Displays keeps guests up to date with what’s going on in and out of the resort. There are small LCDs outside meeting rooms and larger LCDs in various areas used for promotion. In lifts, E-Motive LCD EAVIS (Elevator Audio Video Information System) Displays inform guests not just of floor number and lift direction, but also promotional material.

The Lost Chambers attraction brings the legend of the lost city to life with a maze of tunnels and halls through which visitors can explore “ruins” teaming with 65,000 marine animals. Sound effects, on a loop, pump atmospheric noises out through ceiling speakers. An Alcorn Mcbride audio player provides 11 areas with 11 different sound effects. “We have Sennheiser infrared radio mics that only work when you’re within a given space,” said Whitaker. “The audio system has been designed to duck out when the guide starts talking.”

At Dolphin Bay training rooms and classrooms use Blu-ray DVD players and high definition 1080p Eiki projectors to instruct in high definition. The dolphin multimedia experience incorporates Pioneer interactive kiosk style LCD touch-screens. A five-screen wall of Samsung LCD monitors allow guests to pull up information on sea creatures. “The five screens are synchronised to work together using a Mantis MC solid-state video server, essentially a hard disk, high definition video player with six outputs,” said Whitaker.

Sanctuary, the resort’s nightclub, utilises four Meyer Sound CQ-1 15” speakers and four 600HP 15” subwoofers for the main dancefloor. Peripheral areas are served by a mixture of active Meyer UPJ-1P and UPA-1 cabinets and Tannoy ceiling speakers powered by two Crown CTs 8200 amplifiers. Signals to the Meyer speakers are handled by a Galileo 616 processor, while the Tannoy CMS models are connected to a BSS London Blu-80. Even teenagers get their own club at Atlantis and Club Rush offers an evening disco and cinema chill out area. The club is furnished with two Tannoy V12 wall-mounted cabinets, supplemented by two V15 subwoofers. Teens tired of dancing can watch films from a high definition Blu-ray DVD player, setup to an Eiki LC-W4 projector, firing onto a 119” Da-Lite motorised screen. Surround sound is provided by a Tannoy 7.1 system. Moving to the spa and fitness centre, visitors are greeted by a peaceful waterfall and the choice of 27 treatment rooms. Ceiling speakers, from Tannoy, vary between CMS401, 601 and 801 models, depending on ceiling height. Ten Tannoy i30 iPod docking stations are connected to 8Gb Nanos for individual rooms.

It’s not all leisure at the resort, which houses 5,600m2 of meeting and conference facilities. Boardrooms are equipped with wall mounted 65” Panasonic Viera LCDs and Samsung HD1080I DVD players, controlled via a 5” wireless AMX touch-screen linked to an AMX NI2100 processor. Extron HDMI- to- DVI interfaces, DVI extenders and presentation switches have been integrated into the system. Polycom VSX-7000S video teleconferencing can extend meetings to locations around the world.

Omnix supplied the 1,373 guestrooms and 124 suites with 32” Samsung LA32A 650 high-definition LCD televisions, together with VDA HD 1080I IPTV set-top boxes and desktop stands. The Grand, Royal, Presidential and Bridge suites were furnished with larger-format screens and Bose Cinemate 2.1 or Bose V30 5.1 surround systems, and Tannoy in-wall speakers.