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NYC’s New Penn Station Expansion Opens with Cutting-Edge Audio

Moynihan Train Hall
(Image credit: Thomas DePace, Advance Sound Company)

Opened on January 1 after years of planning and construction, the Moynihan Train Hall is an expansion of NYC’s Pennsylvania Station into the historic James A. Farley Building, a sprawling Beaux-Arts building that formerly served as the general post office for Midtown Manhattan. The new hall provides a beautiful new access to most of Penn Stations’ platforms for Amtrak and Long Island Rail Road passengers, serving 17 of the station’s 21 tracks. The 225,000-square-foot train hall was built to alleviate congestion in Penn Station, which saw 650,000 daily riders before the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The $1.6 billion renovation historically restored the building, added a central atrium with a glass roof and retail space, a 320-seat waiting area, public bathrooms, and three areas with works of art.

Advance Sound Company joined the project in 2018 and was tasked with the audio installation for the expansive hall. Audio requirements included quality paging and distribution for the two major train systems utilizing the train hall: Amtrak and MTA Long Island Rail Road. Advanced Sound eventually settled on a system based on SoundTube’s CM82-EZ-II and CM62-EZS-II ceiling-mount loudspeakers and a Symetrix Prism 8X8 Processor, giving the hall the opportunity to utilize the system for digital signage audio or audio performances in the future.

Related: VuWall Control Solutions Streamline Operations for French Rail Network

Advance Sound Company created a 164-zone Dante system to manage the audio that was installed between June and December 2020. “We designed a custom work cabinet with carpeted shelf and foam dividers to deliver zones of speakers at a time,” said Thomas DePace, CTS, COO and senior engineering manager for Advance Sound Company. “This eliminated on site waste, as well as allowed our office technical staff to tap and test speakers and safety cable prior to delivery to the site. With the intense security protocols in place to bring product into the building, we had to make it as easy as possible to get through the intake inspection to prevent job delays.

Moynihan Train Hall

(Image credit: Thomas DePace, Advance Sound Company)

“Architectural design caused varying ceiling types, so it was important that we had adjustable speakers that had the same voicing in all the areas. Speakers installed in the tech panels were black, while speakers in gypsum ceilings were white, and speakers in custom wood ceilings were custom painted beige. Speakers in the main train hall had to be hidden behind HVAC louvered diffusers. They also had to be specifically aimed and panned accordingly. As such we enlisted the help of Polar Focus to design a custom beam mount bracket that could be adjusted to appropriate depths and angles.

“Coverage and frequency response were the most important specs that allowed for an even and intelligible system. MSE Audio’s color-coded backboxes and tiles bridges assisted our installation team to match the previously installed bridges to the appropriate speaker and diameter.

“Since we’re still under COVID-19 restrictions, Moynihan Train Hall is operating at 25 of capacity. This reduced volume of passengers required us to lower the overall building audio volume. It’s amazing to hear how clear and precise the sound is regardless of the volume. With the high ceiling heights, we’re even able to get the reverberation level to under two seconds. That says a lot about the product quality.” 

Products used in the installation include:

  • (1) AtlasIED IP116CS
  • (12) AtlasIED T112C with (82) T1202-120V Amplifier Cards
  • (2) AtlasIED IED550CS-G
  • (2) AtlasIED IED1522AIOLR
  • (1) Symetrix Prism 8X8
  • (480) SoundTube CM82-EZ-II / CM62-EZS-II Speakers
  • (38) JBL CBT50-LA Speakers
  • (38) Polar Focus Custom Pan Tilt Brackets for Above
  • (11) Fortinet FS-108E-FPoE Switches
  • (10) Lowell LGR-4427 Gangable Racks
  • (10) Lowell UPSV-2000
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