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BELGIUM: The quality and audibility of acoustic announcements at Leuven station has been enhanced through the installation of a set of advanced loudspeakers to a novel design.

French supplier Active Audio says the installation is the largest deployment to date of its steerable StepArray SA180S column loudspeakers, 64 of which have been fitted as part of a renovation of the passenger information systems at Leuven.

Since 2000, Leuven station has undergone a series of renovations, including the addition of an overall roof comprising 16 sloping white domes, designed by Philippe Samyn & Partners to resemble sails fluttering in the wind. The station has 13 platform tracks serving local, national and international destinations.

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The complex acoustic environment created by this mix of architectural styles, as well as restrictions on how the loudspeakers could be installed, presented significant challenges for Active Audio and system integrator TVV Sound, which was contracted by infrastructure manager Infrabel to overhaul the existing public address system dating from the early 2000s.

Eric Grandmougin of Active Audio’s parent company Arbane Group was responsible for defining the audio system’s specifications after modelling the acoustics of the station. He says the design of the SA180S speaker, which offers an output of 97 dB in a slim 1 840 mm by 124 mm package, allowed his team to experiment with installing the loudspeakers horizontally, enabling them to work around the restrictions within the station environment.

‘This new way of using Active Audio column loudspeakers was first tested and validated internally, before being integrated into an electroacoustic model of the station to predict the system’s overall performance’, Grandmougin says. ‘The results obtained were in line with the operator’s requirements.’

‘Most of Leuven station’s platforms are covered by a large, high arched canopy, while some are covered by a low, flat roof’, adds Edo Dijkstra, CEO of TVV Sound. ‘The renovation included the replacement of the existing loudspeakers under these canopies, both high and low. Architecturally, nothing was allowed to change the layout of the existing loudspeakers.’

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The StepArray columns have been coupled together in pairs helping TVV Sound to work around the space constraints while still being able to adjust the speakers’ directivity, ensuring clear public announcements can be delivered, along with ambient background music, to the more than 8 million passengers who pass through the station annually.

‘It was only with a beam steering system that we were able to achieve perfect sound reproduction’, explains Dijkstra, referring to the Digital & Geometric Radiation Control steering technology built in to the StepArray speaker. The suppliers say this was key to combatting the acoustic reflections produced by the station’s concrete and glass structure. DGRC uses a patented arrangement of speakers that reduces the number of amplifiers necessary to drive the loudspeaker system while still ensuring excellent directivity.