A Barix Audio Annuncicom IP
intercom/audio streaming device.
New York (June 11, 2009)--The Mall of America in Bloomington, MN is an international shopping destination--you can take a train there direct from the Minneapolis airport---but recently it got a permanent addition from Zurich, Switzerland: multiple Barix Audio over IP and automation devices used for on-demand audio playback, live music streaming and message repeating at Nickelodeon Universe, a seven-acre amusement park located inside the mall.
The mix of Barix Instreamer encoders, Exstreamer decoders and Annuncicom IP intercom/audio streaming devices, programmed by DataNab of Burnsville, MN, provides Nickelodeon Universe with a varied and flexible approach to delivering audio entertainment, ride information and public safety announcements to every corner of the theme park. The migration to Barix also enables remote monitoring of the entire system from anywhere inside or outside of Mall of America, the largest retail and entertainment complex in the United States.
According to Jason Brown, Events Technician at Mall of America and Nickelodeon Universe, the Barix Audio over IP system replaced an outdated analog hard-wired distribution system that was expensive to upgrade. The migration to Barix allowed his team to break the system infrastructure into four distinct quadrants for a more efficient monitoring operation.
“The old system had all of the amplifiers centrally located, and moving to an IP-based system made it possible to break the system into four quadrants without giving up the ability to monitor and change settings without leaving our office,” said Brown. “The ability to access the system remotely is ideal because we can make changes off-site in the case of an emergency. Furthermore, the Barix system was more cost-efficient as the cost of data cable versus running multiple analog audio cables to and from the same place was a huge savings in both material and labor.”
The three Barix applications are operated over the same park-wide virtual LAN, with separate fiber-optic runs from the central office to all four quadrants. The three applications are as follows:
• On-demand audio playback: Ride operators press specific touch panel buttons to trigger audio clips at the start, middle and end of each ride. Barix IO12 devices trigger Annuncicoms when a button is pushed to play back the assigned audio clip from an inserted USB stick.
• Live music streaming: Instreamer 100 encoders accept feeds from satellite music service DMX and distribute the program live to Exstreamer 100 decoders across the park.
• Message Repeating: Standalone Annuncicom 100 devices play back looped 45-second messages from inserted USB sticks at one-minute intervals throughout the day. These Annuncicoms broadcast safety requirements to guests in line at rides with no touch panels.
DataNab, an IP systems programmer and Barix distributor, programmed the Annuncicom devices to accommodate custom on-demand and message repeater applications requested by Nickelodeon Universe. Adam VanOort, President of DataNab, said that the IO12 devices were specified to enable the on-demand application from the operator touch panels.
“The IO12 devices are part of the Barix range of Barionet IP control and Automation solutions and they provide the interface between the Annuncicom devices and the touch panels,” said VanOort. “The IO12 devices provide input detection so that commands from buttons on the touchpanel can be fed into an Annuncicom. When the operator pushes a button, the IO12 relays a command that triggers the Annuncicom to play the appropriate audio file from the USB stick. It’s an ideal example of how Barix products don’t restrict the user to a narrow list of ‘pre-canned’ applications, and how it’s possible to create hybrid solutions because of the openness of the Barix BCL programming environment and the various communications interfaces available on the hardware. It’s very slick.”
Brown and his team record all the messages for the Annuncicom in-house and encode the audio files into mp3 using Adobe Audition 3.0 software with a BLUE Icicle analog-to-digital converter. The messages are recorded to USB sticks which are then inserted into the various Annuncicoms, where four-channel, 70-volt QSC amplifiers power the audio in each quadrant.