FACE DEBUTS CDD AT PLOPSA AMUSEMENT PARK
New Prinsessia Castle opens in time for Hallowe'en
Since taking over an amusement park on Belgium's north coast 15 years ago, and opening the first Plopsaland in de Panne, TV production company Studio 100 has rapidly expanded its operations and today has five sites in Belgium, Holland and Germany, both indoor and outdoor.
Systematic generations of Martin Audio's installation speakers have been deployed throughout that period by sound designer Steven Kemland (of FACE bvba) - dating right back to the EM Series. Today the dominant speaker is the C115 - with more than 500 pieces in total now distributed within the various locations, many forming the general PAVA/announcement system.
However, these are now old technology solutions, and destined to be replaced by the new and superior CDD (Coaxial Differential Dispersion) series. In keeping with the park's evolutionary policy, the latest attraction, the Prinsessia Castle - which is modeled on the existing TV series - has seen the new speakers' Belgian debut.
Sitting in its own sound zone, this new attraction, featuring the five singing princesses, was part-opened in time for Hallowe'en. It has seen FACE specify CDD6 enclosures inside the castle restaurant, and CDD5TX running 100V line, and weatherised by FACE, on the brand new merry-go-round ride outside. These form part of a complement of 50 loudspeakers that also include another popular item in FACE's shopping list, the Martin Audio C4.8T ceiling speaker.
Steven Kemland became an early adopter of CDD after its world premier at last year's Frankfurt Prolight+Sound Show. 'Prinsessia provided a great opportunity to use the new range,' he said. 'Such was the power and dispersion that it meant for the first time we didn't need to place two speakers on small masts, as we had with the C115, but we only needed to use a single CDD5 placed higher up on the pillars. What I noticed immediately was that the sound was even better [than the C115] - and although that has done a really great job for us it is now 15 years old.
'The power of CDD is greater, the dispersion is absolutely fabulous, with superior pattern control, and it also looks much nicer. CDD is also sensitively priced and being able to replace two C115 with a single CDD5 keeps the project within budget.'
Inside the Castle, the facility needed the additional power of the 6in CDD6 as it will often be used for presentations, with local iPod input. The FACE project man also notes that the quality of the transformers leaves him in do doubt that a 100V line approach was the correct one for its simplicity and consistency.
The main banqueting area is surrounded by a VIP room, toilets and a merchandising shop, with eight C4.8T ceiling speakers - frequently used by FACE - covering these ancillary areas.
Over the past 12 months, Martin Audio solutions have been applied to other areas such as de Panne's new water park (Plopsaqua), but most significantly the principal 'meet and greet' stage in the main piazza. This performance stage, which also features many of the cuddly characters that appear on the children's television networks, can routinely draw between 3,000-4,000 people into the square; and to broadcast the action Steven Kemland has specified a Martin Audio XD solution, providing six XD15 with two XD12, along with a pair of powerful WS218X subs.
'The XD series on the outdoor stage is one of the best sounding 12in and 15in speakers on the market and at a very competitive price,' he states.
And Steve Van Camp, part of the Plopsa Invest Team, responsible for investment in the entertainment systems, adds: 'Originally we set the criteria for the XD to provide coverage for around 500 people, with the normal meet and greets, accompanied by background music. But when we have a live band playing it attracts several thousand - and when we heard the XD, particularly the XD12 stage monitors, we realised it could cope comfortably with that. In fact some visiting sound engineers have even asked 'Where is the main system?' … until they hear it!'
His praise for Martin Audio systems extends right across the portfolio. 'We have been happy with their solutions since Plopsaland first opened, and following the initial investment there has been almost no maintenance costs: the C115 has been used now for 15 years and is still working - however, we are certain that the new CDD range will deliver an even better service. What we can already hear in the new Prinsessia zone is that we have completely equal dispersion, despite using even fewer cabinets than we would have done with the C115 and AQ5 enclosures.'
FACE's work for Plopsaland is never ending. They are presently planning several more projects at various sites, ranging from roller coaster rides to the new hotel at Plopsa de Panne. At this location, which welcomes 10,000 visitors a day in peak season alone there are 16 separate music zones but split into more than 100 sub-zones. Their goal is always to be able to plug into existing networks, and in many cases they are swopping their existing CobraNet cards with Dante, ensuring single-button operation for the technically unskilled staff (with announcements automated within the system). This is all under master control from their office in Boom, where they can carry out healthchecks.
'Clarity and vocal intelligibility are the most important elements here and we hope to be carrying out a fluent swop-over to a CDD5 solution in time,' Kemland concludes.