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Berlin Celebrates Opening of Europe’s Largest Train Station with Help From Meyer Sound’s MILO

United States
3 November 2006 — The new Berlin Hauptbahnhof is giving onlookers a glimpse into the future right smack in the historical center of the 800-year-old city. The German capital’s new central train station is an architectural masterpiece that, at over 900 feet long and as tall as a skyscraper, has caused more than a few awestruck passers-by to liken it to a “Cathedral of Rail Traffic.” The long structure features a glass-lined outer hull that lets visitors see both the German Chancellery and the Reichstag buildings. The numbers are as impressive as the view: covering more than 70,000 square meters, and housing 54 escalators and 49 elevators, the Hauptbahnhof can host 2,000 trains and 300,000 commuters a day.

The opening celebration for what Deutsche Bahn (German Rail) called “the largest and most modern crossing station of Europe” was elaborate and highly produced. The celebration started with Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel addressing an exclusive crowd of 600 invited guests and went from there with performances from popular German bands, a multimedia mega-event titled “Symphony of Lights — Welcome to Berlin,” specially illuminated trains entering the station from both the east and the west to illustrate the coming together of the previously divided nations, a seemingly endless array of flickering lights, impressive laser effects, and some complex pyrotechnics. Over a half a million spectators filed in to see the new station.

To ensure that the excited crowd heard all of the music and announcements, a distributed system of over 300 self-powered Meyer Sound loudspeakers was supplied by German rental company Procon, with additional systems coming from London-based Capital Sound. On the left and right of the stage were arrays of 15 MILO® high-power curvilinear array loudspeakers, to which were added 10 650-P high-power subwoofers set up in front of the stage for bass support and delayed and configured to produce a kidney-shaped coverage pattern.

But the real stars of the sound system were the 19 large towers packed with enough Meyer Sound loudspeakers to cover a 30-acre area. The area itself was actually split into two sections separated by the Spree River, each with its own FOH stations, which functioned autonomously on the northern and southern banks of the river, though linked together via optical waveguide delay lines and conventional copper wire. The digital audio source signals were sent to the FOH stations via Yamaha DM2000 mixing boards and rack-mounted processors, then routed to the various towers with appropriate delay times.

The last line of delay towers, which covered most of the southern area, consisted of five positions, each with six M3D line array loudspeakers and two CQ-1 wide coverage main loudspeakers for near-field coverage. System designer and technician Thomas Mundorf (also a Meyer Sound European technical support representative) designated that three stations be installed on the other side of the river to cover the promenade on the edge of the southern area. Each station was equipped with three MSL-6 horn-loaded high-Q main loudspeakers and four DS-2P horn-loaded mid-bass loudspeakers, while four M3D-Sub directional subwoofers were placed on the lower river promenade.

Eleven towers placed across from the stage provided sound for the area north of the Spree River surrounding the vast square in front of the train station. Depending on the position, the towers held different combinations of MILO cabinets, 650-P subwoofers, UPA-1P compact wide coverage units, MSL-4 horn-loaded long-throw loudspeakers, and DS-4P horn-loaded mid-bass loudspeakers. All of the MILO arrays were controlled using LD-3 compensating line drivers and CP-10 complementary phase parametric equalizers.

Mundorf also used MAPP Online Pro™ acoustical prediction software to help with installation of the line arrays, determining the delay times needed for the individual towers by first measuring the distance with a laser and then entering that, along with ambient temperature and humidity, into the program.

Christian Oeser, Procon’s project manager for the event, feels that the Meyer Sound self-powered loudspeakers made short work of the difficult requirements posed by the complex scenario. “There were two things that made life quite easy for us at this event,” Oeser says. “First was MAPP Online Pro, because it enabled us to easily react to several changes that happened to the loudspeaker positions before the event, and, second, was the consistency of Meyer Sound’s self-powered products. It is difficult to imagine trying to align 22 delay lines across all of the different amplifier racks and controllers being used for each position. That’s why Meyer Sound products were our only possible choice for this event.”

The music coming through the complex audio system was provided by live musicians on stage, but for the “Symphony of Lights,” a digital audio workstation served up multichannel audio. Stereo effects were played as the trains rolled into the station from opposite directions, a third channel played musical favorites from classical to pop once the trains had come together, and a fourth channel played a powerful heartbeat to create an air of tension and underscore the emotions generated by the series of images projected on a huge video screen.

The production, already a challenge simply due to its scope, was complicated even further by rain. Nonetheless, the ceremony proved a great success made all the more impressive by the elaborate sound systems. In spite of the rain’s effect on coverage, the overall sound was powerful and dynamic, and even spoken announcements and song lyrics came through clearly. Even the generally critical local papers were full of praise the day after the celebration, with the Berliner Kurier (Berlin Courier) summing it all up in three words: “Bravo! Da capo!”

Berlin Hauptbahnhof: www.hbf-berlin.de
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