The campus may remind you of Wimbledon, with scores of ménages spread over several acres but, in scale and status, the World Equestrian Festival in Aachen rivals soccer’s FIFA World Cup.
Arriving from 30 different countries with 535 horses in tow, 375 riders compete over 10 days in jumping, dressage, eventing, driving and vaulting for such bounties as the Rolex Grand Prix, the Mercedes-Benz Nations’ Cup and the Deutsche Bank Prize – with €2.67 million in prize money and trophies up for grabs and a complete technical budget of €12 million.
So it’s a major broadcast event, of course, but with 375,000 visitors there’s a serious sound reinforcement and voice evacuation challenge to saddle up for as well. According to organisers, enough cable to fill three large sea freight containers has to be laid to service the arenas, the ‘CHIO Village’ of catering, accommodation and exhibitions – products on show range from fashion to Mercedes-Benz cars – and probably the stables too. You can’t imagine horses of this stature going without cable TV, can you?
A share of the €12 million budget for the whole event goes to the main technical contractor – E Media Design (EMD), based in Oldenburg – but this is where extravagant claims about cabling can be countered in the light of a very significant breakthrough. EMD’s partner in terms of evacuation equipment is Hamburg’s Amptown System Company (ASC), while the pro-audio equipment provider for EMD is Gotaque Licht & Ton, from Bremen.
For the last five years it’s been a showcase for Electro-Voice and Dynacord, the Straubing Sisters, and especially a platform for the application of E-V’s distributed, networked PA/VA as this critical corner of the Bosch portfolio has evolved in line with IT and IP infrastructure.
This year represents a home-soil debut for OMNEO, a “media networking architecture” that uses standard Ethernet hardware. Up to 10,000 devices can sit on the network, sharing synchronised, multichannel audio using Audinate’s Dante protocol and control systems managed by Open Control Architecture (OCA), a membership-based public standard for media network monitoring.
“We had remote control of our amplifiers before, but now the NetMax N8000 digital matrix controller can do it all via one single cable,” explains Fredi Palm, Bosch Communication System’s key account manager for mobile audio. “It’s much easier to control the whole system, and it’s much easier to transport the audio information throughout the whole venue. There are three main stadiums, plus several technical areas where audio is needed, and whatever the loudspeakers – we have eight Electro-Voice XLC 90s, 45 XLC 120s, 12 XI-2123s and 14 coaxial wedges, plus 16 Dynacord TS400 – we can provide complete routing.”
OMNEO seamlessly integrates voice evacuation and information with pro-audio elements used for music and entertainment. “There is a pro-sound programme to all the main arenas,” adds Manuel Brico, EMEA product marketing manager for RTS and Telex, also part of Bosch Communications Systems, “but in the case of an emergency the same system will patch VA into individual paging areas, wherever it’s needed.”
Not only that, and this is where OMNEO deserves its acronym, the networking architecture also carries the Telex-RTS intercom traffic generated by an ADAM-M digital matrix communication system. Audio, control, VA, intercoms… all down one cable. It’s enough to make Harvey Smith gesticulate with a ‘V’ for victory using the fingers of his right hand.
This is not a fixed installation, so it avoids the spectre of EN54 compliance, but Jörgen Langhorst, Bosch Communications Systems’ German sales director for mobile audio, reckons it would have passed muster anyway. “The great thing about OMNEO is that it’s built for standard IP hardware,” he says, “so we can use what is already here and pipe in Dante audio and OCA control. No expansive routers are needed, and we use the house Cisco switches. We plug it in, and it works.”
Forty-eight Electro-Voice TG7 tour-grade amplifiers around the site are equipped with Electro-Voice’s RCM-28 Remote Control Module, a two-channel digital module that turns a conventional amp into a remote amplifier in order to provide a comprehensive overview of system status and access to all parameters.
“This is the door to OMNEO,” continues Brico. “Every TG7 gets a two-channel OMNEO input, and this is the first occasion we’ve been able to apply this solution since the launch of the RCM-28 at Frankfurt this year. You can add up to 100 devices to the network, and use a PC to gain access to our established IRIS-Net – Intelligent Remote & Integrated Supervision – software package. And besides DSP, the RCM-28 has an AES/EBU digital audio input.”
According to Electro-Voice, the OCA Alliance is on the verge of maturing from a loose collection of founding members into “a formal trade association”, offering a new schedule of participation and membership options. The inaugural participants were Bosch Communications Systems; d&b audiotechnik; Duran Audio; LOUD Technologies; Media Technology Systems; PreSonus; Salzbrenner Stagetec Mediagroup; TC Group; and Yamaha Commercial Audio.
German event, French name: Concours Hippique International Officiel (CHIO) is the event’s actual title. Another key statistic might be the 18,000kg of oats that some of the participants get through over the 10 days, but OMNEO’s proven breakthrough in networking for audio really is something for the industry to chew over.