TUI EQUIP NEW CRUISE LINERS WITH MARTIN AUDIO
Martin Audio loudspeakers have been specified throughout two recently commissioned cruise liners, operated by German-based TUI Cruises - a joint venture cruise line between the German leisure/tourist firm, TUI AG, and American operator, Royal Caribbean Cruises.
The latest addition Mein Schiff 4 was commissioned earlier this summer, having been built at the Meyer Turku shipyard. It followed on from Mein Schiff 3, built the previous year, and will operate routes across the Baltic Mediterranean and Caribbean seas, as well as the Canary Islands and Central America. Martin Audio systems have been fitted in all key areas across the 15 decks on both ships.
With these two 99,500 tonne, 2,506 passenger capacity vessels configured identically, installation specialists Funa International created the technical infrastructure, working with consultant Torsten Hirche, TUI Cruises' technical director for the past six years.
In addition to Martin Audio's flagship MLA Compact Multi-cellular Loudspeaker Array - making its marine debut - Hirche's recommendation included mission critical solutions from across the manufacturer's catalogue. This included OmniLine, Screen 4 and Effects 5 cinema speakers, DD6 differential dispersion technology, W8LC compact line array, XD15 and examples from the AQ architectural range - as well as special marine versions of standard speakers to withstand life out at sea.
Torsten Hirche played a critical role in the implementation. As technical director for all entertainment systems - and consultant for audio - he and Funa were able to turn the concept ideas into reality. 'Although I have a very good experience in working with British audio brands, the MLA [Loudspeaker Array] which we have in the theatre, was my first time working with this awesome speaker system,' he said. 'TUI Cruises is a premium product, so I also needed premium audio brands.'
Before opting for Martin Audio's signature sound he had undertaken a number of evaluations, including shoot-outs with other leading brands. He was closely supported by Wolfgang Garçon from UnitedB, Martin Audio's German distributors.
So what features had given Martin Audio its preferred status? Firstly it was the 'honest sound' evidenced in all products, admits the consultant. 'The second thing was the very cool feature of MLA, which allowed us to change the beam angle after mounting.'
As there had been no opportunity to specify this for the earlier cruise ship, the award winning system made its debut on Mein Schiff 4, with two hangs of eight MLA Compact and six DSX subwoofers designed in two batches of three. DD6's have been used for infills and XD12 for side fills onstage, with the option of LE1200 reference monitors.
Aside from the quality of the sound and hardware componentry, Torsten Hirche knew that since life at sea is challenging at best, the systems needed to display remarkable durability over 24/7 duty cycles. 'The technical equipment is expected to work hard, particularly in outdoor locations, such as the pool deck, which are extremely harsh for speaker systems. But Martin Audio has proven it can deliver good experiences with other cruise ships, and up to now I am extremely happy with them all.'
Both the ships' multipurpose cinema and theatre needed to be configurable and switchable for live sound, as Torsten Hirche explains. 'For example, in the theatre we also had to accommodate a TV show for the naming ceremony. Therefore, the approach was for a system with headroom for special requirements.'
As for the multipurpose, acoustically-treated 'Klanghaus' this represents another massive achievement for a cinema which doubles as a classical venue for opera and chamber music - turning it into a full philharmonic concert venue. 'On one side is the world of acoustics, on the other hand the vastness of the ocean,' as the website puts it.
This space required three separate, switchable sound systems: a main Left/Right OmniLine hang, with subwoofer support for band set-up; an additional cinema surround, for when the room reverts to movie mode and an acoustic control system to set the venue for different reverberation times - for instance when a string quartet or piano soloist are performing.
The OmniLine system comprises two left/right arrays of eight elements, with AQ212 sub support, with the option of DD6 floor monitors.
The Screen 4 (and Screen Sub 1A) cinema speakers are arranged in a classic L/C/R design behind a perforated drop down screen with Effect 5 enclosures providing the surround sound. Both the OmniLine and cinema rigs can operate as stand-alone systems or be combined at the sound desk.
In addition to the theatre and cinema, Martin Audio indoor products have been specified in a total of eight bars and three lounges, many with small live stages. In the stylish Schau Bar lounge there is a larger stage for a Top 40 band set up, while Coffee House, X Lounge, AbtanzBar, Atrium Dance Bar and TUI Bar all bear the company's products. Outdoor products with special coating for offshore, were installed on Sports Deck, Pool Deck and Sports Bar - and once again these needed to be carefully specified.
For instance, the Pool Deck features eight Martin Audio W8LC Compact Line Array in a special custom marine grade weatherproof version with high-grade stainless steel, accompanied by a flown WS218X subwoofer. Another custom design is the Martin Audio W8FVDQ (an adaptation of W8VDQ) which provides ouftills on the upper deck, where further LE1200's are available as reference monitors.
Also provided in marine spec are AM10 and AM15 stadium/arena speakers (even though these are already weather-proofed) to ensure flawless operation in the open deck and open cinema areas.
Back inside, the dance oriented AbtanzBar a punchy, focused solution was required. 'We wanted a really good sound pressure level which we have achieved with the AQ series,' Torsten Hirche confirms.
All work was carried out by TUI Cruises, along with Funa and Protones - the operators' partner for systems maintenance - while Martin Audio also assisted with the tuning of the MLA system in the theatre.
For Martin Audio the project was instigated by product support engineers, Nigel Meddemmen and completed by Robin Dibble, who is highly experienced in cruise liner installations. Stated Dibble, 'The marine world is the most hostile of environments and there are many considerations to take into account; fortunately we were able to meet all requirements from within our portfolio, and provide special order marine grade components where required.'
Summing up, Torsten Hirche says he is delighted with the way the various Martin Audio systems are functioning. 'Everything is working extremely well and we have had very good experiences across the two ships. Now we look forward to commissioning the next four ships [Mein Schiff 5-8 … the last due for completion in 2019].'
He confirms that technologically, they will keep up with the times by moving to Martin Audio's new CDD installation series, launched earlier this year, for Mein Schiff 5 and Mein Schiff 6, scheduled to launch in 2016 and 2017 respectively.