Apr 1, 1998 12:00 PM, Carolyn Heinze
Located in Charlotte, NC, Earth Fare, "The Healthy Supermarket," is agrocery store with a twist. Equipped with a health-food supermarket, arestaurant and a sushi bar, this outlet is the second of two stores of itskind (the first is in Asheville, NC). Earth Fare specializes in the sale ofeverything healthy. Adopting a futuristic decor, the layout of the store isopen concept, combining drop and open ceilings. Important to the store'sambience was the installation of a new sound system.
Carolina Sound, a North Carolina-based sound contracting firm, wascommissioned to design and install all of the communications equipment forthe venue. David Perry, audio sales manager at the company, laid out adesign for the intercom, music, paging and overall sound system, whichincludes a 60-channel satellite dish network.
One of the first issues that had to be dealt with was the store's openconcept. The designers were required to install a system that not only hadenough power for the sound, but they also had to make use of an effectivesound distribution system. Over the high-ceilinged area, Carolina Soundinstalled a Soundsphere QB subwoofer powered by a TOA P-912 amp, and Perryused a Paso VT3060 amp as well.
"I needed a big amp," Perry explained, "and I chose TOA because we've beenusing TOA products forever. We rarely have problems with them and rarelyhave to send them away to be repaired."
On the sales floor, Carolina Sound installed 14 TOA F-121CM ceilingloudspeakers, powered by TOA A-906 amps. Perry explained that the TOAloudspeakers meshed the sound nicely with Soundsphere's; however, the TOAceiling loudspeakers were used for their unique sound dispersion and theircost effectiveness.
Released at NSCA Expo '97, the loudspeaker design is "a variation on aproduct that has been available for some time in other markets," explainedJohn Murray, product manager at TOA.
The F-121C/CM is a compactly designed, bass-reflex ceiling-mount 8 Vloudspeaker with a 70 V/100 V high-impedance line transformer as an option.Designed to provide smooth frequency response and high-power handlingcapacity, the star feature of this product is its wide dispersion. Thesound from the loudspeakers is distributed in the shape of a hemisphere,from bass to treble. TOA achieved the desired level of dispersion as aresult of the placement of a diffusion ball placed in the grille of theloudspeaker assembly.
"The inevitable challenge in designing and manufacturing a product like theF-121C/CM," Murray outlined, "is to provide contractors with acost-effective product without compromising quality. The high frequenciesare spread out very wide, and because of that, you can place theloudspeakers farther apart. Depending on the dimensions of the space youare trying to cover, you can get away with using anywhere from one quarteror less the quantity of loudspeakers, as compared to standard ceilingloudspeakers."
Other product highlights include a ceiling-mounting mechanism, abass-reflex enclosure and a 4.7 inch (119 mm) full-range loudspeaker.Sensitivity is 90 dB (1 W, 1 m), with a frequency response of 80 Hz to 18kHz (-10 dB). Power handling capacity for the F-121C is 40 W continuouspink noise or 120 W continuous program. The F-121CM features four 70 Vtransformer taps, which are 10 W, 5 W, 3 W and 1 W, respectively. Theseloudspeakers also have a built-in protective circuit to prevent damage fromexcessive input. The 900 Series E-02R EQ module or the stereo AC-120dedicated EQ may be used to ensure optimum frequency response.
Fabricated from a flame-resistant polymer, the enclosure incorporates fourthreaded swing arms and two spring-loaded clips for easy installation ofthe enclosure and front grille, respectively. It includes a 24 inch (610mm) safety cable with a spring clip to facilitate the anchoring of theloudspeaker to the building's support structure. The user also has theoption of using the TOA TBF-100 T-bar bridge and BBF-100 metal back can.
The product's mounting system is an innovative design, because theinstaller is not forced to mount the loudspeaker from above the ceiling. Innon-drop-in ceiling applications, this saves time during installation. Thebass-reflex enclosure may be attached to ceiling materials up to 1.4 inches(36 mm) thick and does not extend above the ceiling more than 6.3 inches(160 mm). The assembly's weight is no more than 5.6 pounds (2.5 kg) for theF-121C and 6.2 pounds (2.8 kg) for the F-121CM with a transformer.
When asked about applications that are best suited to this product, Murrayreplied that they may be used just about anywhere one requires ceilingloudspeakers, even in low-budget projects. The F-121C/CMs are currently inuse in various low-ceiling installs, such as restaurants, offices, shoppingmalls and, of course, supermarkets.
For the "employees only" sections of Earth Fare, Perry used 14 Lowell158-70 paging loudspeakers. He noted that they do the job nicely andenabled Carolina Sound to keep the project on budget.
Instead of installing a standard mic system, Carolina Sound used 15 AiphoneMC-60/4s, which act as an in-house telephone system.
Explained Perry, "They're scattered around the store like mics would be,but rather than being just a simple mic that would broadcast everythingover the store and annoy customers, the staff can use the phonesinternally."
Signal processing equipment for Earth Fare is relatively minimal andincludes a Soundsphere QB/Q12 crossover and a TOA AC-120 EQ. Otherinstallation highlights include a 60-channel Muzak system, supported by 18inch (457 mm) satellite receivers.
Contractors at Crimson Tech, Cambridge, MA, have also been putting close to200 TOA F-121C/CMs to work at the Disney World of Retail Furniture Sales atJordan's Furniture.
Renowned in New England for their unique, fun approach to selling furniture(each store is set up much like a theme park, with different departmentssporting different themes), Jordan's original outlet is located in Avon,MA. Now, Jordan's is expanding into a large warehouse in Cambridge,bringing a bit of that New Orleans spice.
"It's a really incredible store," said Greg Morrow of Crimson Tech, whodesigned the sound system for the entire store, which consists of close to20 individualized departments. "They are simulating Bourbon Street in NewOrleans during the Mardi Gras. Each one of the zones (or departments) willhave a certain number of loudspeakers, as well as ambient noise-leveldetection."
The audio system will track the ambient noise level and adjust the musiclevels accordingly. Crimson Tech's choice of TOA ceiling loudspeakers wasbased on quality only: "They were looking for the highest quality ceilingloudspeakers they could get," Morrow explained.
"I will consider myself successful with this launch once the competitioncopies our design," replied Murray when asked how the competition iscurrently reacting to TOA's loudspeaker line.