Case Study: Whale One

In AV integration, it’s not every day a random walk up turns into one of your more interesting jobs. But that’s exactly what happened to Maroochydore based outfit Complete Audio when Bill Carranza, Fleet Manager at Sunreef Mooloolaba, walked in the door and said: “We’re refitting a boat and wondering if you guys could do the work?”

“Sure thing” replied Andy Ovenden, “we’d love to have a look at it.”

Andy took NAS QLD rep Brendon McDonald along with him and they saw Whale One just before it went to drydocks to be stripped down and undergo a full refit of just about everything. Andy relates, “The only thing they didn’t change was the motors. It’s like a totally new boat.”

Kitted out in sleek black and white livery, she is now a highly polished, two-level, all weather friendly, 19-meter catamaran that can entertain up to 110 guests. Whale One is primarily used for whale watching tours but also doubles as a night-time pleasure cruiser on the weekends. Even weddings are held onboard.

 

 

 

 

 

THE CHALLENGE

 

Bill outlines some of the parameters.

“The audio system concept covered national regulatory requirements as a surveyed domestic commercial vessel, with limitations onboard in passengers and crew, to the other extreme of being able to entertain people.”

The brief called for full 360° audio coverage inside and out as customers often start the cruise in the cabin, then move to the outside when they are at sea and in potential range of whales. Sources included a CD player and radio, modulated PC-based messaging, paging from the cockpit, and roving mics for the tour guides. A hydrophone mic was needed to capture the deep-sea cetacean calls. Inputs were also required for visiting DJs and performers, with some portable speakers added for the weekend setup.

Keeping electronics working well in a harsh marine environment is always tricky. Finding space for them is equally challenging. Speakers would have to squeeze in wherever they could fit. A further complication came with the cabin’s construction materials – much made of a sandwich bonded aluminium panelling. Some existing wiring needed reuse in areas where new cabling would have required major structural alterations.

 

THE FIX

 

Brendon designed a sound system for Whale One to deliver neat distribution, efficient control, and ample reinforcement throughout the boat. Andy and his crew installed a Cloud Z4 four-zone mixer hooked up to an Ashly pema 4250.10 multizone amp. This feeds 10 SoundTube IW-31 flush mount speakers throughout the indoor areas and eight inDESIGN

ID-BGM6 surface mount speakers snugly fitted around the outer decks. For Andy, “you need 360° coverage on a boat. The six-inch two-way speakers give excellent coverage.” Bill agrees here but also “design-wise, they look fantastic.”

With the bonded panelling being difficult to cut, Andy worked with the boat engineers to install a 45° angled bulkhead along the top corners of the saloon.

“Having that space behind the new panel allowed us to get the depth for the four-inch can to fit. It also pointed the speakers towards the centre of the saloon area instead of being flat in the ceiling.” This gave much better coverage throughout the space: “It’s safe to say that the sound achieved in the saloon exceeded everybody’s predictions.”

This new moulding also provided a convenient location to mount local volume controls in the saloon. These can be adjusted independently of the main controls located in the helm. Boat-wide announcements can be done here with a Cloud PM4-SA paging mic and guides use either a Parallel Audio lapel or handheld mic to communicate via the Stage 100 wireless receiver.

 

 

 

 

 

The helm also includes the ‘rack’ location. With space at a premium, Andy’s crew crawled under the dash to access wiring in the rear of the audio system, but it all fits in neatly with the rest of the instrument panels. A PC feeds messaging and advertising audio into the mixer directly while video is digitally modulated over the existing antenna system to save rewiring.

With all the whale watching requirements met, some extra thump was added for Friday and Saturday night pleasure/party cruises. Complete Audio matched a pair of dBTechnologies Opera 10 boxes with two Sub 612s and these patch in via inDESIGN WP2K3XF XLR wall plates when required.

 

THE RESULT

 

Bill loves all the different options that the system provides. “We got a ton of flexibility, and that’s what we really needed. That’s the thing that is so brilliant about this system.”

He also loves the quality of the gear.

“It’s holding up well to the weather. We do six months of the year out on the ocean and have strong wind and weather coming in while we are at dock, so they really cop it.  Three years on and we have zero corrosion.”

Not only is the system robust, it sounds great too. “The sound quality is absolutely amazing. It’s a blast. It has met and exceeded my expectations.”

A quiet day in the shop for Andy turned into a fun exploration of marine systems and Bill ended up with everything he asked for and then some. Everyone won out here.

 

 

Whale One: Gear List Whale One: Layout

 

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