Sound system central to ballroom refurb

When the Grand Hyatt New York renovated its Empire Ballroom it turned to Tannoy and Lab.gruppen for a flexible, high-fidelity sound solution. The resulting system incorporated Qflex digitally steerable arrays and CMS in-ceiling loudspeakers powered by C Series amplifiers.

“Our existing sound system didn’t offer the quality of playback that we need for guests using our landmark ballroom on 42nd Street in the heart of Manhattan,” said Matt Adams, the hotel’s VP and managing director.

The Empire Ballroom comprises six interlinked areas that together can host events for between 100 and 1,700 patrons. The larger ballrooms B, C and D are laid out in a row with dividing air walls, while ballrooms A and E plus the West Ballroom serve as satellite areas with interconnected AV systems. “Previously, Grand Hyatt has brought in music-playback and AV systems to cover a wide range of events,” recalls John Bangs from AV/COM Integrators.

“The hotel management wanted to reduce load-in time and hide all the ugly wiring by adding a permanent, state-of-the-art system. For the larger B, C and D ballrooms, we first considered down-firing ceiling speakers, but soon realised that glass and lighting in the elegant ceiling would cause refraction and reflection problems. So we decided on Tannoy’s self-powered QFlex speakers and subwoofers that we ordered in custom colours to fully blend in with the décor.” For ballrooms A and E and the West Ballroom, which are smaller and have less elaborate ceilings, AV/COM opted for Tannoy CMS 601BM ceiling-mounted speakers.

“We also needed to provide a background-music and paging system in the foyer hallway that runs alongside ballrooms B through D and which connects into the other areas,” Bangs continues. “Here, we specified Meyer Sound MM-4 speakers powered by Lab.gruppen C Series amplifiers; an additional C Series amp also powers the 24 CMS 601 ceiling speakers we specified for ballrooms A and E. Because of the C Series' high efficiency and packing density we needed just a pair of rack-mounted units to power the foyer and ceiling speakers – they are a great-sounding space saver.” AV Com also supplied PA systems for the companion West Ballroom, which leads directly off ballroom E.

Bangs was very satisfied with the Tannoy products and said: “The six QFlex 32 digitally steerable array loudspeakers that we installed in the three main halls – two per space, mounted in the wall corners [facing the entrances] close to the ceiling - provide complete coverage across the floor areas. The QFlex 32s measure just 54 inches tall, with a 7-by-7-inch cross section, and produce wonderful fidelity. And when the ballroom spaces are combined, the speakers couple perfectly to provide high-precision sound throughout the entire area. We also installed six Tannoy CMS-110TB active ceiling-mounted subwoofers to augment the low-end; they integrate seamlessly by using standard AC vent covers as a speaker grille.” The CMS’ long-excursion, 10-inch LF transducer is powered by an integral 200W amplifier.

The first eight-channel C Series 20:8X amplifier powers eight foyer speakers via 8-ohm connections, while the second handles the remaining MM-4s and the Tannoy ceiling speakers. The sound systems are controlled from two Biamp AudiaFLEX multichannel digital controllers that provide centralised EQ and dynamic control of all signals, plus distributed wall panels for local level settings. Tie lines and multi-way panels in each hall accommodate transportable equipment.

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