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New RCF sound system for Florence Airport

by Brooke Sever on Jan 10, 2012




Several years ago, the Amerigo Vespucci Airport’s terminal building in Florence was equipped with an RCF sound system.

But by the time it came to equipping the new terminal earlier this year, new regulations for security and evacuation, coupled with an evolution in sound system technology, meant that while RCF was once again chosen as the preferred supplier, the company was now required to deliver a far superior solution, in keeping with the new regulations.

Work began on the project in mid-August 2011 under the supervision of RCF project manager, Aristodemo Preda, and the whole system became operational in mid-December.

At the submission stage, various acoustic simulations were carried out, necessary to determine the efficiency of the system and necessary compliances. For in addition to meeting the normal requirements of speech intelligibility (public messaging), background music and flight information in the form of automatic announcements, the system also needed to address security standards regarding emergency / evacuation procedures.

Thanks to the EASE 4.3, which is able to provide 3D modelling, it was possible to accurately reconstruct the architecture of the main rooms ‘virtually’, and set the ‘acoustic fingerprint’ of the speakers, simulating the behaviour and final result with great precision. In this way, the sound pressure levels and intelligibility (STI) could be measured, and compatibility with the parameters set in the reference standard determined.

The entire structure was divided into 14 distinct audio zones, to which mic and pre-recorded announcements, including emergency messages, and background music could be routed. Each zone is served by two or more lines of speakers, driven by the same number of amplifiers a best intelligibility. Thanks to the careful speaker placement this solution helps ensure a consistent and continuous announcement service in the event of one line failing.

The use of an RCF system ensured the total replacement of sound sources, including the connecting lines, already installed in the old terminal so that the digital network can be extended between this and the new building, currently under construction.

The system management is under the command of the RCF DXT 5000 digital matrix system which is EN 60849-compliant. This allows each component to be assigned its own physical address, designed to completely control and manage background music and paging, even for emergency and evacuation purposes.

Device monitoring and self checks can be carried out via the MU 5100, central management unit, with audio inputs and outputs, messaging, speaker circuits and digital connections verified in real time. The system is fully configurable from either the front panel of the MU 5100 or more easily from the GUI installed on a PC.

In addition to being interfaced to the fire detection system using programmable logic contacts, the system is connected to the automatic announcement system by transmitting digital audio and serial port for activation and routing of messages within all the designated areas.

Using the RCF solution, therefore, it has been possible to upgrade the audio system to the current legislation, in the interests of both security and flexibility, while at the same time expanding the network to accommodate the expansion of the Airport.


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