At the new Terminal B at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), a self-powered 48 V Meyer Sound loudspeaker system in the south concourse has raised the bar for audio fidelity and flexibility. Despite large reflective surfaces and tall ceilings, announcements and music are projected with a crispy clarity rarely heard in transportation facilities.
“The audio quality, intelligibility, and uniformity of coverage are distinctly better than most terminals across the country,” says Ulf Lueders, Terminal Services group manager of the Houston Airport System (HAS). “With this upgrade, travelers can enjoy the various concessions without having to worry about missing a flight announcement. Higher quality also allows the concourse operator to choose from a wider variety of background music, without being restricted to the ‘elevator music’ compatible with lower fidelity systems.”
Both airport management and the concourse operator, United Airlines, worked to offer across-the-board improvements in traveler experience. Improving audio quality in the concourse proved a challenge, as the 27-foot high ceiling, the room’s large size, and the expansive glass area presented acoustical difficulties. To control unwanted reverberations, Houston-based HFP Acoustical Consultants designed both the room’s acoustical treatments and the Meyer Sound self-powered loudspeaker installation as a balanced, integral system.
“Self-powered loudspeakers, with amplification and signal processing inside the cabinet, provide inherently better audio reproduction,” explains HFP’s Bill Schuermann. “Without the transformers and long cable runs typical of airport systems, they provide flatter frequency and phase response, lower distortion, and extended bass. The result is remarkable intelligibility with a natural voice quality, and far superior musicality.”
The principal Meyer Sound system comprises 60 UPM-1XP 48 V loudspeakers, 44 MM-4XP self-powered loudspeakers, and two Stella-4C installation loudspeakers, with a Galileo® loudspeaker management system with seven Galileo 408 processors providing system optimization. LD Systems of Houston installed the system.
“If conventional systems have to be rezoned to accommodate a new floor plan, you usually have to change wiring in the ceiling,” Schuermann explains. “But with self-powered systems, all the changes can be quickly accomplished inside the equipment room.”
“We’ve raised the bar with Terminal B south,” says Lueders. “It is certainly the airport’s prime location as far as audio quality and coverage is concerned.”
IAH Terminal B south concourse was designed by Cheryl Gajeske and Ivan Pire of Houston-based PGAL. The $97 million project opened in 2013 with 15 active gates for United Express regional flights, with expansion to 30 gates planned by the end of the year.