Inspiring Installs: Polar Audio-designed Biamp Tesira system drives Societe Generale

Audio Media International looks back over 2014 to highlight some of the year’s stand-out installations, whether it be for innovative use of technology, scale, value for money or impact.

The Societe Generale, France’s third largest bank with branches in St James’ Park and Tower Hill, launched a vast transformation plan in 2010 to adapt to industry changes, build a reputation as the relationship-focused bank and position itself among the leading European financial services groups. One of the themes of the transformation was to take full advantage of the benefits afforded by technological enhancements in the working environment. Polar Audio and installers ProAV became part of this French Revolution in a corner of London, when they were invited to address a very demanding brief.

Societe Generale wanted to revolutionise its existing provision by combining the functions of a conferencing solution with those of a public address system. It required a system capable of allowing communications to flow across multiple locations in two different buildings. The system was to be flexible and easy to use whilst at the same time offering very high quality, clearly intelligible audio communications (and in some cases, video) capable of rising above the general hum of office and trading floor activities.

Stuart Leader, business development manager at Polar Audio spoke to Audio Media exclusively on the issue: “There were a handful of zones in each of the two buildings and the whole system was designed so that you could broadcast to any amount of zones, or a few zones locally, and likewise remotely.”

In an environment where success depends largely on effective communication of constantly updated information from a central point to a large number of traders and other staff, the system needed the wider capacity to allow for individual ‘broadcasts’. Thus, presenters of communications needed to be mobile, have a range of microphone options (lapel, handset or headset) and be able to operate from primary and secondary locations in either building. Furthermore, given that SG operates in 76 countries around the world, the system was to provide external interfaces to facilitate remote audio access for people within SG buildings, nationally and internationally. This was a complex and demanding brief. It is worth emphasising that for all of the permutations required, the audio quality had to be of the highest order…a trading floor would not be the place to mishear information.

Leader continued: “What would appear to be at first sight quite a simple request actually turned out to be quite a complex system, because we had to manage lots of different technologies such as AVB and MoIP to ensure the quality was the best it could possibly be.”

Central to the solution designed by Polar Audio was the award winning Biamp Tesira system. This line of digital signal processors is designed for use in large, extra-large and super-scale platforms and enabled the Polar Audio team to meet the challenge of simultaneously providing a conferencing facility and a public address system in one. Tesira as a ‘protocol-agnostic’ system could be employed through the existing SG corporate network to distribute the required audio and video traffic. The technical challenge of bridging two buildings to be seen as one seamless network was overcome using AVB and SIP protocols.

beyerdynamic microphones were used exclusively throughout the project. The Opus 600 wireless Microphone System and the Stegos Wireless Microphone Boundary System were used extensively with a number of other beyerdynamic ancillary products. A combination of high quality, robustness and ease of use made the beyerdynamic range a natural fit in this environment. Over 200 rapid-fit 4" Australian Monitor speakers powered by Australian Monitor Amps completed the picture.

Obtaining the desired speaker coverage was very important. Audio had to be segmented across different zones and careful attention paid to localising sound as required in the different areas of the buildings. Installers ProAV were further challenged by the fact that their access to the site was compromised by the tight time-framework allowed by limited downtime on the trading floors. They had to work quickly, with no margin for error, to ensure that there was minimum disruption to trading whilst achieving accurate audio coverage. The work was completed to exact specification and, crucially, on time.

Managing director of Polar Audio, John Midgley reviewed the challenge: "At first sight, the brief for this work would appear to be tricky in the extreme. Combining the functions of conferencing and public address, flexibly, across distinctly different working areas of one building, would inevitably present a challenge. Extending that same facility across two separate buildings and one would expect any problems to be proportionally magnified. There was, of course, a great deal of hard work to be done but broadly speaking, after close consultation with ProAV over a system design, the use of Biamp Tesira cut straight through to the heart of the brief and demonstrated its capabilities with flying colours, to the great satisfaction of all parties."