A QSC Q-Sys networked audio management system controlled the the PA/VA systems at Farnborough International Airshow on 19 and 20 July.
Events communications company Show Hire, appointed to install the airshow's onsite PA and audio systems in 2012, elected to employ a fibre-optic network – over which the vast majority of the PA system was run digitally – with audio distribution managed using the Q-Sys platform by QSC. The fibre-optic network used for the Q-Sys system was installed by DB Event Networks, which began a wholesale refurbishment of the networking facilities at Farnborough in October 2013 in order to be finished in time for this year's show.
Show Hire purchased the system and associated equipment from QSC UK representative Shure Distribution after "extensive consultation" about its requirements for Farnborough. Ross Slaughter, technical director at Show Hire and chief Q-Sys engineer at the Farnborough event, explains: "We invested in Q-Sys primarily for Farnborough, but we carried out some pretty extensive testing beforehand at other events. We wanted to ensure that not only were we making the most of what Q-Sys can do, but also to ensure that it would withstand the challenges that an event like Farnborough can present."
The finished Q-Sys network installed by Show Hire incorporated two Core 500i processors (one active and one redundant backup), nine I/O s and two I/O-22 miniature frames. Staff in the airshow's show control centre were given a QSC PS-1600H page station, programmed to give priority to the control centre over all other PA feeds if necessary.
Another PS-1600H paging station installed at the commentary centre allowed commentary to be routed across the entire 2,000ac (809ha) site. A TSC-3 touchscreen was used in the exhibition halls so routine PA announcements could be muted in certain areas while various demonstrations and talks – such as addresses from the prime minister, David Cameron, and the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg – were in progress.
"The audio network was in use constantly," adds Slaughter. "Even before the show opened to the public, it was being used to send out safety announcements to contractors working on site – and, during the public days, it was broadcasting Radio Farnborough, warnings about staying cool in the heat, messages reuniting lost children with parents [and] distributing live airshow commentary. In short, it did everything an analogue PA system can do, but with greater control and redundancy, which was exactly what we wanted."
Show Hire has announced its intention to reprise its deployment of Q-Sys for the next Farnborough Airshow, in 2016.
Main photo: Dave Robinson