JBL VTX A8 debuts on Marella Explorer
Friday, 6 December 2019
tedm2-17362The rebranded Marella Explorer 2
Europe - Two years ago, after Thomson Cruises (part of TUI) had rebranded to Marella Cruises, the instigation of a refurbishment programme of the fleet saw UK technology company tedav (part of The Entertainment Department), awarded a long term contract to provide entertainment and comms systems, starting with the conversion of Mein Schiff 1 to the Marella Explorer luxury ship.
Audio and networking components deployed through the many entertainment spaces and general deck areas were sourced from the Harman Professional Solutions catalogue via UK distributor Sound Technology.
tedav’s successful audio design template - along with the addition of Martin from Harman lighting - was adopted and expanded when the company returned to Navantia Cadiz Shipyard in Spain 12 months later to begin work on their second project - the Marella Explorer 2. And with technology having moved on, they were able to place the first UK order at the time for the new JBL VTX A8 line array system.
Under the direction of tedav’s senior project manager, Martin Jones, and cruise technical manager, Flavio Diolaiti, just eight weeks after embarking on the project, they had equipped eight venues on the 14-deck vessel, transformed by a 40-strong team (including permanent technicians respectively dedicated to sound, light and automation).
“We created a bespoke installation out of nothing,” says Flavio Diolaiti. “We had to start from scratch, as none of the equipment onboard was reusable.”
Overall, the project involved around 25,000m of cable, and from an audio perspective, around 100 JBL loudspeakers including the new VTX A8 line-array, a variety of CBT Series Constant Beamwidth Columns, and a combination of AC Series and Control Contractor on-wall and in-ceiling speakers. All are powered by Crown DCi and iTECH HD amplifiers.
Site-wide Dante signal transport is interfaced locally with BSS Soundweb BLU hardware devices via BSS Audio’s proprietary BLU link.
As with Marella Explorer, the key venue on Explorer 2 is the 1000-seat Broadway Show Lounge theatre, where the VTX V20/VTX S25 combination that serves Explorer so well had now made way for the new technology of JBL’s VTX A8 system.
Six VTX A8 line array elements have been flown per side, along with four VTX S25 subs (two per side). The system is powered by two Crown IT 4x3500HD and two Crown IT 12000HD amplifiers. Five JBL AC25 provide front-fill and stage monitoring and six AC18/95 (in horizontal mode) service the three balcony areas, powered by a pair of Crown DCi2 1600N amplifiers.
The Broadway Show Lounge also features a Soundcraft Vi2000 digital console, equipped with MADI and Dante protocols to allow signals anywhere on the ship’s network to be picked up by the console.
All shows are run on time-code, LTC and MTC, triggered from Qlab, which also runs the playback and video. Aside from the shows themselves, 24-channel multitrack audio is played out over Dante with some shows featuring a four-piece band also.
All the production lighting onboard is from Martin, as Flavio Diolaiti explained. “We chose the brand because it has so much history, we are very familiar with it and it’s not too heavy.”
Throughout, they have used a selection of MAC Quantum Profile, MH7 Hybrid and MH6 Wash, positioned on the ten lighting bars. Control is via two GrandMA Full Lite and Wing, running ArtNet, with an MA Network Processing Unit in the rack. This is driven by 400 channels of ETC dimming.
(Jim Evans)

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