In the maritime world, few names are as respected as Brunvoll, manufacturer of thrusters for the world’s most advanced sea-faring vessels. Now 104 years old but still proudly family owned, the company bases itself in the Norwegian coastal city of Molde. There, the opening of an impressive new headquarters was recently celebrated by VIP guests, including a video greeting from Norwegian Prime Minister, Erna Solberg. Meanwhile, the engineering excellence of Brunvoll meant expectations were high for the technical systems installed in the company’s new home.
The new, $30 million, 10,000m2 headquarters represents an extension of the company’s previous home, which was split in two by Route E39, a major highway. Now a suspended walkway bridges the route, linking Brunvoll’s administration and production facilities, while a new multipurpose auditorium forms the heart of the building. Surrounded by glass and bright with natural light, the auditorium is beautiful but acoustically challenging. To meet that challenge, the company turned to another family-owned firm known for its engineering prowess: Renkus-Heinz.
“The challenge is, as always, to get direct sound from the loudspeakers to the listener without exciting the acoustics in the room too much,” observed Jo Tore Bæverfjord, of Molde Forum AS, the company that designed, supplied and installed the project. He added, “For a project such as this, the loudspeakers need to be very good, and in particular the beam-steering needs to be very good.”
Wide and shallow, the 400-seat capacity room is interspersed with tall supporting columns, between two of which is a stage measuring about 14’x10′. Behind the stage, floor-to-ceiling windows offer a grand view, while the stage itself is topped with an impressive 14’x8′ LED screen.
The Unilumin UTV high-resolution screen, supplied by Reklameservice AS, is suspended from the ceiling, while a custom backdrop has also been created, bearing Brunvoll’s logo and slogan. The screen is optimized for viewing at distances ranging from about 10′ to 65′, with a narrow pixel pitch of 0.1-inch and a native resolution of 1728×960 pixels. It can handle, says the designer, everything from “detailed technical drawings and numeric tables to high-definition, split-screen video.”
“They considered using projectors; they were concerned about maintaining the décor of the room and protecting the view,” explained Bæverfjord. “I encouraged them to consider an LED screen instead, and I’m glad to see that the screen and the loudspeakers have become a nice addition to the design. They fit very well in the room.”
Indeed, the challenging acoustic environment was met with a similarly sympathetic but innovative approach. “When we started with the project, we saw that the room has big columns, large windows and a balcony with glass in front, so all of those factors made for more of a challenge. But it’s not really so much of a challenge for Renkus-Heinz; it’s just a matter of identifying where to put the speakers and optimizing the beam steering to minimize reflections. Even for this space, we installed two IC Live columns and two small loudspeakers on each side as fills. It was no more complex than that.”
The loudspeakers in question are Iconyx ICL-R arrays, two of which are fixed to the columns that flank the stage. Custom brackets have been created to bring the arrays forward about 23.62 inches, placing them in line with the screen. “We chose a touring model from the IC Live range because it has an integrated rear pipe, which allowed us to use two clamps for the mounting, just as we do in live productions,” said Bæverfjord. “It made the installation very easy and it’s delivered a nice balance between the pictures on the screen and the sound in the room.”
Renkus-Heinz RHAON II software was used to optimize beam steering performance and optimization. Support for the IC Live arrays is delivered via two wall-mounted CF81-2 enclosures serving the room’s left and right wings. Additional low end comes courtesy of a pair of CF15S-5R subs. At the rear of the room, under-balcony reinforcement is provided by Martin Audio C4.8T ceiling speakers, while control is from an Allen & Heath IDR8 matrix mixer with Crestron touchscreens.
The completed system offers both powerful performance but simple operation. “When you walk into a room and there are many columns and lots of glass, there’s nothing that you can do about that,” said Bæverfjord, “but I must say that Renkus-Heinz beam-steering speakers are very easy to work with and so these challenges do not present a big problem. You could make it all much more complicated and achieve worse results.”
Instead, the simple effectiveness of the design has already made a big impression with Brunvoll. Noting the prestige of the project, Bæverfjord concluded, “The opening event included speeches, video playback and live music, and greetings from the Prime Minister via the LED screen. It was a big moment, but we didn’t have to do anything. They ran it all by themselves. The Brunvoll IT staff managed the production on their own! This is a very prestigious project for us and I am very proud.”