The sound of ultimate performance. The sound of success in a large hall at the Horst Korber sports centre in Berlin

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A stone’s throw from the Olympic stadium in Berlin, in the district of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, stands a sports centre named after Horst Korber, a former politician. The centre was dedicated to Korber for his contributions to family, youth and sports affairs. The large sports complex acts as a state centre of excellence for handball, hockey, volleyball and athletics. The leisure centre was built in the late 1980s and is an important facility belonging to the State Athletic Association of Berlin.

At the heart of the sports centre stands a huge hall. With a floor area of 88 x 48 metres (289 by 157 ft) and a height of 14 metres (46 ft), it is an amazing sight with a corresponding reverberation time. Daylight cascades into the hall through scores of skylight windows. The hall includes many pull-out stands, with enough seating for up to 3500 spectators. And if the competition areas need dividing up, there are special oversized curtains to section off different courts for events running in parallel.

In 2012, a new sound system was installed in the Horst Korber sports centre. Planned and installed professionally by the electro-acoustics specialists Neuenhagen, it was important with the new equipment to arrange the acoustics separately for each of the three large hall sections – in keeping with the existing space divisions. There are now three d&b audiotechnik loudspeaker clusters in the hall. Each can be operated individually, or with the others, and irrespective of the hall configuration needed, everything sounds precisely as intended.

To adhere to necessary health and safety requirements, all of the clusters have been fixed to the roof of the hall using mountings that were specially produced for the task at hand. To cover the pull-out stands, arrays were installed, each consisting of three T10 two-way loudspeakers. These cover the audience area in line array mode providing a ° horizontal dispersion of 110° along the whole range. To reinforce the low frequency range, each loudspeaker column contains an 18A subwoofer with long excursion 18” drivers. Two MAX12 have been positioned downwards to cover the playing areas and sportsmen – an ideal choice due to their coaxial design. The two loudspeaker columns at either end of the hall have been equipped with three T10 arrays. This is instead of just two, to ensure they also reach spectators on the stands along the narrow sides of the sports centre.

All three columns are always operated as part of the same overall unit, with the aim being to keep the acoustics uniform throughout the area being covered. Experienced technicians from Neuenhagen took on the responsibility of calibration. “The task was to attain levels of around 105 dB,” explains Thomas Lunacek, managing director at Elektroakustik Neuenhagen GmbH. “When you’ve got several thousand spectators in the hall and everyone starts panicking, the sounds system’s still got to be audible above all the people.”

The sound system for emergency purposes previously installed in the hall was no longer fit for purpose. To maintain the required safety levels for visitors to the sports facility, the sound systems were brought back in line with the latest technological developments and prevailing health and safety regulations.

The d&b sound system that has now been fitted would be penetrating enough in an emergency to sound an alarm in all key areas. It is also suitable for issuing evacuation instructions with the direct sound level required in such situations.

The D6 amplifiers that drive the loudspeakers have been positioned separately in a control room. Here, the operator has a clear view of the entire hall. The Neuenhagen technicians fitted amplifiers to go with each loudspeaker to make sure each stand would still have sufficient coverage even if an individual amplifier malfunctioned.

The sound solution also includes mobile media trolleys, which the hall technicians have affectionately nicknamed ‘phono-wagons’. These can be quickly connected up via sockets distributed throughout the hall. Music can be played from a CD player, a laptop, or a USB stick and it is always reproduced in mono. Speech input is available through wireless systems or through a wired up microphone. The system includes a control panel with potentiometers for an external audio processor. This allows the technicians to set the sound at any level in individual sections of the hall – or in all areas, as desired.

“Even if there are several thousand people in the hall, the sound’s good wherever you’re sitting – right up to the back of the stands,” says Reiner Becker, who works on technical systems at the sports centre. “The old sound system was already over 20 years old and the sound quality was nothing like what people expect these days. If you listened carefully, you could even hear this hissing noise and sometimes if someone whipped their mobile out, you’d get interference. The new system with the loudspeakers from d&b audiotechnik has catapulted the sound in the Horst Korber sports centre onto a completely new level. Wherever you sit, you can understand absolutely every word! All we have to do is sit back and control the system and that’s still without going at anything like full capacity.”

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