Buying a car has changed. Abandon visions of “Honest Ron” – the dodgy ex-pat Texan touting his wares in an open car yard, with the fluttering of plastic bunting forming the underlying soundtrack. Buying a car just got sexy. Goodbye Honest Ron, hello Audi Lighthouse.
The Audi Lighthouse sits on the main city approach from Kingsford Smith Airport, and is passed by some 45 million cars each year. Audi intend it to be a beacon to the motoring industry, thus the name. It opened in August 2009, sits eight stories high, and cost in the order of $50 million to build. There’s even a rooftop BBQ area. Audi aims to deliver a high-end brand experience to its customers, so when a suitable audio fit out was required they put the job out to tender. It’s nice to have options.
The tender was eventually awarded to Credible Audio Visual Solutions, with the project headed up by Alan Moffat and system design by Alex Smyth. The installation was no easy task – the parts of the building which aren’t concrete are glass, and the main showroom ceiling is 6m high. Acoustically challenging to say the least!
Several outcomes needed to be achieved with the installation. First up, it had to deliver background music in a smooth and consistent fashion. Hot spots and dead spots were to be avoided. Secondly, the system needed to adapt for speech and high-level music to accommodate functions for up to 600 guests. It needed to be more than a background music system. Finally, it had to match the visual appeal of the building itself – aesthetics carried significant weight in the system design.
The system itself is split into 7 individual zones, with each zone separately controllable. The system is managed by a Biamp Nexia SP signal processor, with an interface custom designed for Audi. Background music runs from an iPod loaded with a selection of Audi approved tracks.
TOA F-2852C in-ceiling speakers were selected for their 120º dispersion pattern as well as their visually appealing profile. 29 of these units were matched with 8 TOA HB-1 in-ceiling subwoofers in the main showroom area to provide full range frequency response in the areas most regularly populated by customers. The system was analysed using Smaart 6, and tuned within the Nexia DSP to provide a flatter frequency response. AKG radio mics (1 hand held and 1 lapel) manage vocal duties for functions.
Does this seem excessive for a car showroom? No more so than the business suite or café does. The Audi Lighthouse is presently the largest Audi centre in the world, and clearly a flagship project. Consider the expectations of a consumer wanting to buy an Audi R8. It only makes sense that the experience of purchasing one should equal this.
The Audio System: http://www.audioproducts.com.au
The Cars: http://audicentresydney.com.au