K-Array Delivers Invisible Audio Solution for QBE’s London HQ

The loudspeaker system provides localised audio coverage of the company’s Broker Lounge and Town Hall meeting spaces.

A custom K-Array loudspeaker solution has been deployed at the London HQ of Australia’s largest global insurer, QBE, as part of a major upgrade of its AV systems.

Supplied by UK distributor 2B Heard, and installed by The Pyramid Group, the loudspeaker system provides localised audio coverage of the company’s Broker Lounge and Town Hall meeting spaces while being hidden from view.

With more than 14,500 employees in 37 countries worldwide, QBE is one of the world’s top 20 insurers. Its flagship European headquarters in the City of London features a range of purpose designed meeting spaces, reception, events areas, and a dual divisible meeting room, as well as 45 newly created meeting rooms and office spaces.

The focal point of the QBE building is the Broker’s Lounge, an impressive 31 metres by 7.5 metres space that’s mainly used for presentations – although it can be specifically re-purposed to host a range of live events in a Town Hall format, or smaller individual meeting spaces as and when required. To fulfil the need for audio coverage of the flexible space, Pyramid’s installation team was challenged with creating an equally flexible loudspeaker system, including multi-zone coverage.

The client’s high expectation in terms of audio quality coupled with a key requirement that the loudspeaker should be invisibly integrated into the room’s décor pointed towards a clear solution – K-Array’s extremely compact but powerful Tornado-KT2 compact architectural speakers.

“The client’s brief was for us to achieve uniform audio coverage of the whole room while keeping the speakers essentially hidden from view,” explained Will Cannon, Senior AV Project Manager for the Pyramid Group. “Our solution was an evenly-spaced matrix of down-firing KT2 speakers, ceiling mounted and positioned between the slats of the contemporary Hunter Douglas suspended ceiling, flush with the lower edges so as to avoid any possible diffraction effects. Working within the physical constraints of the ceiling structure, the KT2s offered us the best combination of pleasing aesthetics and desired dispersion.”

The speakers are configured in groups of seven, with each group aimed towards one row of seating directly below. Each group is assigned to a zone on the AMX touch screen control system, allowing the client to select any combination of zones at a single touch, dependent on the room layout and seating

The KT2 speakers’ selectable 32-ohm impedance feature proved to be a highly practical function, enabling amplifiers to power multiple speakers more efficiently from each of their eight configurable outputs.

With aesthetics playing such a major factor in the audio system design and in order to maintain an uncluttered floor space, the very compact dual 10-inch KU210 K-Array subwoofers are also located above the suspended ceiling, requiring only 15cm of installation space. These are assigned one per group of six KT2 satellites so that even in a reduced configuration, full frequency response is still possible.

“We worked with Dave Wooster at 2B Heard on a concept that would provide a discreet option. Following Dave’s initial EASE Focus simulations we then selected a final design, and what we’ve created is an incredibly uniform near field coverage pattern with a natural listening experience even at high levels, and with absolutely no delay effects,” confirmed Will. “For music, the KU210 subs kick in to give serious bass response down to 42Hz.

“We’ve put as much control over the sound system in the client’s hands as possible. For a music event everything can be full on with subwoofer support, but if they have, for example, a small meeting of only 20 people or so the unused zones can simply be switched off, keeping the audio exceptionally focused.”

“The client is very pleased with the result, the coverage of the room is excellent, spoken word reinforcement is very clear, and the KU210 subs complement the KT2 satellites perfectly for a quality music program.”

QBE’s Head of Corporate Real Estate Services, Mark Thompson, attests to the success of the project. “Our thanks to Will and the team at Pyramid who have delivered an integrated audio solution to budget with an exceptional eye for detail, managing timescales in sometimes challenging situations, and ultimately ensuring that we met our goals on time, and with complete customer satisfaction.”