d&b delights fans at Katowice’s ‘Spodek’ Arena ice rink in Poland.

© Lukasz Kornafel

Spodek – meaning ‘saucer’ in Polish – is one of Poland’s best-known cultural landmarks. So-called for its iconic shape, which distinctly resembles that of a classic sci-fi flying saucer, Spodek is one of Poland’s largest multi-purpose indoor venues. In addition to the main arena, Spodek houses a 1,200-capacity ice rink. During the winter season, the venue sees over 40,000 people pass through its doors. When the time came to replace the sound system, pro audio distribution and systems integration experts, Konsbud Audio, won the tender to supply a flexible, lightweight d&b system that has radically improved the audio experience within the ice rink.

The number one priority for the new system was to achieve flawless speech intelligibility and even coverage against a background of music, cheering, clapping and all of the other types of noise generated by a high-octane hockey match crowd. Fans need to be able to hear all of the information and announcements provided during the match.

The system also had to be able to stand up to harsh conditions of low temperatures and high humidity – something that had proved to be the downfall of the previous system which suffered significant corrosion.

In such an acoustically challenging environment with so much reflection off hard surfaces – including the ice itself - Konsbud decided that the best solution would be to install a lot of smaller loudspeakers in a zoned configuration for maximum control. Five zones were designated: upper stands, lower stands, VIP area, journalists’ area, and around the main scoreboard, each with independent control for level and on/off.

We chose d&b because of its great audio performance, compact form factor and high intelligibility in an unfavourable environment,” explains Spodek’s system engineer, Grzegorz Wylazlowski. “However, even though we expected improvements, the results were astonishing – the multi-speaker design has enabled us to achieve excellent intelligibility and superb coverage across the individual zones at lower SPLs, resulting in reduced reverberation on the ice rink which makes for a much more comfortable audio experience.Grzegorz Wylazlowski, System Engineer at Spodek
© Lukasz Kornafel

To this end, Konsbud selected a total of sixteen Yi10P high performance 2-way point source loudspeakers with wide dispersion and twenty-four E6 compact coaxial point source loudspeakers with rotatable horns, all in fully weather resistant (WR) versions to withstand the testing conditions.

Konsbud Project Manager, Damian Mizura, recalls that the installation was not without its challenges given the difficult conditions in the ice rink. “All of the prep work was carried out whilst the rink was frozen. However, when it came to actually installing the speakers, we had a very tight timeframe of just ten days and nights whilst the ice was thawing, which massively increased humidity in the room – installing, at height, over thawing ice definitely didn’t make for easy working conditions. However, the results are worth it, not just in terms of intelligibility and ease of control, but also in terms of the amount of weight borne by the roof.”

The previous system comprised sixteen loudspeakers suspended from the roof, each one weighing a massive 75kg. Even though forty loudspeakers now perform the job of sixteen, with the Yi10Ps weighing in at only 18kg and the E6s a mere 5kg each, total weight has been reduced by a staggering 65%.

The venue is thrilled with the results. “We chose d&b because of its great audio performance, compact form factor and high intelligibility in an unfavourable environment,” explains Spodek’s System Engineer, Grzegorz Wylazlowski. “Even though we expected improvements, the results were astonishing – the multi-speaker design has enabled us to achieve excellent intelligibility and superb coverage across the individual zones at lower SPLs, resulting in reduced reverberation on the ice rink which makes for a much more comfortable audio experience.”

“Ultimately, the choice of a d&b system is an investment in the future of the venue,” concludes Mizura. “They have achieved their goal of crystal clear intelligibility in a notoriously difficult venue – fans can finally hear what’s going on without their ears ringing! They are guaranteed the best audio quality for many years to come with a modern system that is easy to operate and maintain.”

Ultimately, the choice of a d&b system is an investment in the future of the venue,” concludes Mizura. “They have achieved their goal of crystal clear intelligibility in a notoriously difficult venue – fans can finally hear what’s going on without their ears ringing! They are guaranteed the best audio quality for many years to come with a modern system that is easy to operate and maintain.Damian Mizura, Project Manager at Konsbud

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