As one of Poland’s largest multi-purpose indoor venues, Spodek is home for a Polish premier league hockey team and also hosts training sessions for local schools and figure skating clubs. During the winter season alone, the venue plays host to over 40,000 guests.

The priority for the venue’s new audio system was to achieve flawless speech intelligibility and even coverage across the entire arena. Understanding the challenges of doing so against the backdrop of music, crowds, and over noises generated by a professional hockey game. The system needed to ensure fans could hear all information and announcements during games.

Pro audio distribution and systems integration experts, Konsbud Audio, won the tender to supply a flexible, lightweight d&b system along with the rest of the audio infrastructure that has radically improved the audio experience within the ice rink.

Sixteen d&b Vi10P high performance 2-way point source loudspeakers with wide dispersion and twenty-four E6 compact coaxial point source loudspeakers with rotatable horns, all in fully weatherised (WR) versions to withstand the harsh conditions. The speakers are distributed across the area, either suspended from the roof or wall mounted. Four d&b 30D amplifiers with integrated DSP connected to the Dante network via a d&b DS10 matrix processor power the system.

An arena with an ice rink presents extremely challenging acoustics with so much reflection off hard surfaces including the ice. To address this the system called for a higher quantity of smaller loudspeakers in a zoned configuration for maximum control. Five zones were designated in the final design: upper stands, lower stands, VIP area, and around the main scoreboard.

Level and on/off can be independently controlled for each area, hence if one of the stands is unoccupied or only sparsely occupied, the level can be reduced accordingly for that area, or even turned off completely to minimise reflections from empty seats, thus improving intelligibility throughout the hall. Furthermore, all system control can be performed from either from the computer or remotely from an iPad, making the system very easy to manage.

The integrator also had to contend with difficult climatic conditions within the ice rink. All of the prep work was carried out while the rink was frozen. When it came to installing the speakers, it had to be done in just ten days and nights and happening simultaneously with the ice thawing, which massively increased humidity in the room.

The system successfully addressed the goal of clear intelligibility in a notoriously difficult venue – fans can finally hear what’s going on without their ears ringing. They are guaranteed the best audio quality for many years come with a modern system that is easy to operate and maintain. Additionally, the previous system comprised sixteen loudspeakers suspended from the roof, each one weighing a massive 75kg. Even though forty loudspeakers now perform the job of sixteen, with the Vi10Ps weighing in at only 18kg and the E6s a mere 5kg each, total weight has been reduced by a staggering 65%. The new d&b system has significantly relieved the strain on the roof structure.