Sound of a nation: China Pavilion, Dubai World Expo

When it comes to projecting national prestige, appearance is everything. Reece Webb discovers how an intelligent sound system wows visitors at the Dubai World Expo.

Expo 2020 Dubai offers a standout opportunity for nations to demonstrate a glimpse of culture, excellence and pride on a global scale, and this is certainly true for the China Pavilion at the World Expo site in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Combining leading examples of Chinese technological prowess, the China Pavilion is home to a staggering light and sound show to impress and inspire visitors with the sights and sounds of China.

Named “The Light of China”, the pavilion resembles a traditional Chinese lantern and houses a number of high-tech exhibits. To hit visitors with an unprecedented wow factor, EZPro was tasked with installing a solid sound reinforcement system to complement and enhance the light show experience offered by the China Pavilion.

To accomplish this, the EZPro team stepped up to provide loudspeakers, digital processing and mixing, as well as a show control system. The pavilion’s lighting system was handled by integrator Jiahe Culture, with EZPro’s sound installation providing much needed sound reinforcement to enhance the light show experience.

Xiang Ji, senior director of marketing, EZPro, comments: “We worked with Funshine, one of the biggest production companies in China who were invited to work with the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCIPIT). They organised the pavilion and we worked directly with the CCPIT.

Ji adds: “The light show at the pavilion takes place twice a day and we were there to provide sound reinforcement for the lighting show.”

The system is built around ezacoustics products, EZPro’s own brand. Twelve ezacoustics FIS-H208iWP point source loudspeakers are installed in a horizontal configuration for background music when there is no light show running. With a 120-degree horizontal smooth sound coverage, the loudspeakers are designed with symmetrical woofer configuration, providing a consistent coverage across full spectrum, both on-axis and off-axis.

Ji says: “The background music was fed in a left-right left-right pattern to avoid interference between adjacent loudspeakers.”

Eight THL-1012WP three-way line array loudspeakers comprised the main system for the show. These particular models, which were selected for their discreet design, blend easily with the pavilion’s exterior while also providing high output level. The weatherproof capabilities were also important to operate efficiently in the high daytime temperatures experienced in Dubai.

“This is the first time that EZPro has sent a group of engineers to work abroad. This is very important and quite meaningful for us.” – Xiang Ji, EZPro

Twelve FIS-S15WP 15-in subwoofers were chosen to provide solid low end sound reinforcement for the light show, with six per side located on the roof. Ji adds: “We chose these models as they are low profile, providing sufficient low end for the system. To avoid the energy distribution gap in the centre due to the wide spacing between left and right arrays, we slightly delayed each speaker gradually.

The added delay creates a virtual subwoofer array to push the sound inwards towards the centre rather than the side. This is how we tune the system on site.” All the loudspeakers are powered by ezacoustics EM50Q and Powersoft X4 four-channel digital amplifiers.

Precision and accurate mixing for this project was paramount and the EZPro team turned to an Allen & Heath dLive digital processing and mixing system with a dLive-CDM32 MixRack, Dante/AES67 enabled I/O card and a C2500 Surface. A second C2500 Surface is also provided to add redundancy to the dLive system, a SQ-6 mixing console is also deployed as the backup system to provide enhanced security to the show.

For show control, QLab control software is used, installed on two Apple Mac minis. Symetrix Radius digital audio processors are also used, supporting the speaker processing as part of the signal distribution and transmission system.

EZPro also provided Shure SLX series microphones for speeches and presentations from VIPs and guests. The microphones are supported by a Shure UA845 antennae distribution system and UA874WB active directional antennas.

The EZPro team had to face the challenges fronted by the Covid-19 pandemic which, inevitably, pushed the project back. Ji explains: “Covid-19 posed a difficult challenge for us. The uncertainty of the pandemic was a challenge for us working in Dubai. The project had to be temporarily delayed due to occasional positive cases confirmed at the expo park. “The hot weather was also difficult for us to work in, especially in the daytime.”

For EZPro, this project marked the very first time that the company had worked outside of China, presenting new challenges and workflows to navigate from kit procurement and import to different working conditions.

Ji clarifies: “Before the team arrived in Dubai, we spent five months preparing everything. After the team arrived, it took two weeks to get product clearances and transfer everything from the port to the venue. The installation itself took approximately two months, with another month for the technical rehearsal. “The system itself is not complicated, but the major issue that we encountered was the preparation phase and this project presented a great opportunity for us to learn the ins and outs of working overseas.”

EZPro is responsible for maintenance on site directly in Dubai, keeping the system running for World Expo until March 30, 2022.

Reflecting on the project, Ji closes: “This is the first time that EZPro has sent a group of engineers to work abroad. This is very important and quite meaningful for us. The expo is a very high-end project, and the pavilion is a standout highlight of the show, we are very proud to have provided the audio system for the lighting show.”

Kit list 

Audio

Audinate DVS Token Dante Virtual Soundcard

ezAcoustics FIS-H208iWP weatherproof loudspeakers, FIS-S15WP weatherproof subwoofers, THL-1012WP line arrays, EM50Q 4-channel digital amplifiers

Powersoft X4 DSP + Dante 4-channel digital amplifier with DSP

Shure SLXD24/ SM58 wireless handheld microphone, SLXD14CN/SM35 wireless headset microphone, UA845 antenna distribution system, UA874WB active directional antenna

Symetrix Radius NX 12X8 AEC-2 digital audio processor

Control

Apple Mac mini

 Allen & Heath Dlive C2500 digital mixing console, SQ-6 digital mixer, Dlive-CDM32 digital mixrack, M-DL-DANT64- AX Dante/AES67 audio network card, MADI card, Dante card

 Dell Vostro 5090-R29NE computer

QLab 4 audio, video and lighting show control software

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