On the high seas
The interplay of sun, wind and water is what makes being on a ship so appealing. Holidaymakers on a Caribbean cruise feel the same way as leisure captains on their own boats. However, those three elements are also the ones that place particular demands on all the technical equipment on board – including the loudspeaker systems. Shipyards and boat builders who aim to offer their customers durable technology therefore rely on special expertise when it comes to sound and materials. VISATON has extensive experience in the maritime sector and also uses this knowledge for new solutions.
Many different maritime customers
Having started out in the recreational maritime sector, VISATON now mainly supplies large shipyards for cruise ships as well as those system suppliers who work together with boat manufacturers. As a result, the speakers can even be found in special segments such as the military sector. It is mainly radio and signal loudspeakers from VISATON that are in use in that field.
The widest range of products and services, however, can be found in cruise ships sailing on the high seas and in inland waters. In these large, floating environments, it is not only pressure-chamber horns but also broadband loudspeakers, coaxial systems, ceiling loudspeakers and compact structure- borne sound converters (exciters) that are becoming increasingly popular. Where which technology is installed is decided by the purpose of the installation and the space available. The following examples show the areas for which VISATON offers solutions:
"We put a lot of know-how into the development so that nothing rusts and the loudspeaker still emits the right sounds even after prolonged use."
Robin Lindner, Development Engineer at VISATON
Passengers hardly notice the loudspeakers in the cabins, and that is an intentional feature. Usually, the speaker baskets and cables are hidden behind grids painted the same colour as the wall or even behind wall panelling. As each ship has its own interior design, all the ventilation shafts, cable ducts and all other fittings have to be adapted for the specific case. In this respect, VISATON thinks ahead during the product design phase. Many models are equipped with removable – often magnetic – grilles, which can also be repainted at a later date, should the cabin design change, for example. But it is also possible to be more individual, says development engineer Robin Lindner: "We developed large loudspeakers for suspended ceilings with only minimal clearance for one customer. This required a special configuration."
Another aspect of cabin sound systems: in the event of critical public address announcements, holidaymakers should also be able to hear them in the shower. Waterproof materials and sealed housings are the solution here. The volume required by country- specific guidelines can be achieved with an individual configuration. This is an advantage VISATON can offer shipbuilders – together with measurements in difficult areas, such as outside balconies.
Outdoor balconies as special cases
Sitting on the balcony and enjoying the view of the open ocean – this is one advantage of an outside cabin. However, to ensure that no one misses any relevant announcements outdoors and the loudspeakers are well protected, structure-borne exciters are used in these cases behind the wall cladding. These ultra- compact products that do not their own diaphragms make use of the surface on which they are mounted to transmit sound. VISATON has a wide range of products of different sizes, which are most effectively optimised on the basis of an accurate measurement.
"We measure on site to achieve volumes and speech intelligibility or get accurate values and build prototypes based on that with the 3D printer. On site, we use the models for acoustic tests," says acoustics expert Christoph Zurloh. This means that passengers on the balcony never miss an important announcement, and the loudspeaker technology is weatherproof. If something changes during the construction process in the shipyard, such as the material, the experts can adjust the design to match. That is why close cooperation is so important.
The bar area
For all the people comfortably seated at the bar, there is usually pleasant background music playing. This means we need the clearest possible sounds in hi-fi quality; the frequency spectrum is fairly broad. At the customer's request, VISATON can also equip the bar area with suitable technology. This also applies to lifts, where music or voice playback is often standard.
Continuous use on the outside deck
Loudspeakers mounted outdoors are subject to the greatest demands. Even in such dreamy holiday regions as the Caribbean, salt, wind and above all UV radiation take their toll on the material. Special passivations, i.e. zinc coatings, help resist the salt and make the material more resistant.
For extreme conditions VISATON uses V4A steel. That special alloy does not corrode and is suitable, for example, for mounts of signal horns or other loudspeakers that have to brave the wind continuously. "We apply a lot of know-how to the development so that nothing rusts and the loudspeaker still emits the right sounds even after prolonged use," says Robin Lindner. The salt spray test we use is an integral part of this know-how and involvesspraying a loudspeaker with a fine salt mixture for 48 hours. In this extreme test, potential weak points become visible. VISATON can then adjust the specification for the unit and order appropriate parts with passivation.
Another alternative is high-quality plastic. However, use of that material is always a matter of close consideration, as UV rays will alter the plasticisers in plastic components in the long term. As a result, outdoor plastics are often suitable as insulation for components or for places where the forces acting on them are less severe. Examples of this are the seawater-resistant FR 16 WPCL and FR 10 WPCL loudspeakers.
Systematically tailor-made solutions
Our flexibility in the choice of materials is extended to other aspects of our philosophy: customers can be supplied with any loudspeakers by VISATON – and, if so desired, as system solutions. "There are models that have several power taps on the transformer. These always have to be connected on site with the correct type of cable. We deliver everything pre-assembled so that no one has to check which connection is the right one," says engineer Jan Kurtz.
In the case of new developments, VISATON applies its principle of maximum simplicity and time-saving installation even more consistently than normal: a loudspeaker that can be inserted into the same mounting holes as LED transformers. This model saves having to drill two different hole diameters in the ceiling. In terms of sound, this new product has a frequency response increased by 1 kHz. This in turn increases the efficiency. In other words: the loudspeaker produces more volume with less power.
The larger the scale of the order, the higher the working time savings through such measures. The DL 25 FL loudspeakers were also developed with this goal in mind. They can be installedwithout having to screw or drill. "Small plastic lugs tighten up when you turn a screw on the side of the cover during installation," explains Robin Lindner. It is solutions like these that have given VISATON many long-lasting customer relationships. And with each new task, the possibilities grow.