Clear and intelligible announcements are vital for the smooth operation of transport hubs, but we’ve all faced the situation where this hasn’t happened. By their very nature, transport hubs tend to be large spaces which are filled with acoustically reflective materials. Adding in a public address system on top of the noise of departing vehicles and passengers transiting just adds to the acoustic energy in the space and can create a loud and confusing audio environment.
This makes intelligibility a real challenge. Modern steerable sound systems have helped to reduce the amount of sound bouncing around the space by targeting the audio to specific areas and avoiding features like walls and windows. But the general noise of life will still ensure that these spaces become cacophonous during the busiest periods.
The obvious way to cut through the background noise is to make sure your announcements are playing at a higher level than the ambient noise. This used to be the job of a sound engineer, but technology now allows for this process to be done automatically.
The latest generation of public address and voice alarm solutions will now feature ambient noise sensors to assist with automatic volume control. This ensures the public address audio is set at a configurable level above the ambient noise in order to guarantee intelligibility of announcements, yet at a comfortable loudness. The ambient noise sensor monitors the changing ambient noise levels in the transport hub and alerts the PA’s system controller. This then automatically adjusts announcements or background music levels to be intelligible at the new ambient level. If noise levels are low, such as in an almost empty station as the last trains are leaving for the night, the volume of messages and music will automatically go down. Conversely, if levels are high, such as in busy periods during the day then announcements will play at the determined amount above the background noise.
One further advantage of these systems is that they can easily be retrofitted. If people have invested in earlier public address systems, it is still possible to achieve the same results by buying an external sensor that can be integrated to provide the same functionality. This means that it is possible for you to create a modern solution without investing in a completely new sound system.
Challenging acoustics are commonplace in transport hubs, but with the right acoustic solution you can easily ensure your announcements are audible. Talk to the skilled Prosound team to find out how we can help you achieve this.