Located at the intersection of France, Germany, and Switzerland, the Basel Train Station (Basel SBB) in Basel, Switzerland is a primary hub for travel throughout Europe and is often regarded as Europe’s busiest international train station. With high background and travel noise compounded with highly reflective ceiling and walls, announcements were hard to understand, resulting in traveler confusion, missed trains and unnecessary congestion throughout the station. To combat the acoustic challenges Basel SBB faced, Renkus-Heinz (opens in new tab) Iconyx Compact loudspeakers were installed to aid in delivering intelligible announcements for passengers and staff.
Travelers are inundated with a wide range of sights and sounds as they pass through any busy transportation hub: arrival, boarding and departure announcements, safety and security information, marketing and services messaging, and the droning murmur of fellow travelers moving from point A to point B—it’s a flood of input for the senses at every step. Transportation managers are challenged with the need to cut through clutter, capture attention and deliver actionable and perhaps critical safety information to a widespread, quickly moving public. For Basel SBB, the initial sound system and loudspeakers installed were not up to the acoustic challenges of the space.
Chris Steiger, CEO of Zurich-based pro audio distribution firm promedias AG, was brought in by Basel SBB managers to upgrade the sound quality of one of the station’s larger halls. The hall houses two large waiting areas, a café, a few small convenience and service stands, Steiger explained.
“Station managers needed to drastically improve the coverage and quality of sound for announcements within the train station,” said Steiger. “The hall is so busy, noisy and acoustically alive that it was difficult for passengers to hear and understand announcements. Further, managers were worried that the audio would be inadequate when critical safety or evacuation announcements needed to be made.”
After modeling the hall's acoustics with software, it became apparent that the new sound system would need to generate a high-enough SPL level to be heard over the background noise. The audio would also need to be tightly controlled with beam steering technology to move the sound away from the reflective surfaces and direct it toward the travelers.
Ultimately the promedias AG team specified a set of four Iconyx Compact Series beam steering arrays from Renkus-Heinz; two ICC36/3-RN and two ICC48/3-RN arrays with custom color finishing to blend into the décor of the hall. By significantly reducing the reflections by keeping the audio focused on the travelers, the installed Iconyx Compact Series delivers the audio coverage, clarity and intelligibility station managers could rely on.
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The compact footprint and custom paint match of the Iconyx Compact were also important as many areas of the station are designated national heritage sites. With the Iconyx Compact’s small footprint, the new sound solution doesn’t disrupt the aesthetics of the space while still providing high intelligibility.
“Basel SBB was a challenging project requiring excellent sound quality and installation flexibility to be successful; the Iconyx Compact Series arrays offer the power, specifications, and the small footprint needed to fit the unique installation requirements,” said Michal Poplawski, European technical sales manager, Renkus-Heinz.
Steiger explained that the Renkus-Heinz system was seamlessly integrated with the station’s existing, automated safety and evacuation system, and the compact arrays have delivered the sound quality and intelligibility SBB management needed.
“Renkus-Heinz provides excellent, state-of-the-art systems; they are a great partner and easy to work with. The team was very helpful in creating the custom color finish for us and in helping with specifying an appropriately sized system for the hall," added Steiger. "The sound performance of the arrays has been flawless, and we’re now working with management to bring Renkus-Heinz sound solutions into other halls and waiting areas within the station.”