AIDAprima: Best onboard entertainment with Sennheiser
On board the AIDA-fleet’s newest flagship, AIDAprima, sound solutions from Sennheiser prove their capabilities every single day: The audio specialist’s premium products help deliver high-level entertainment on one of the world’s most modern cruise ships. Alongside Sennheiser’s reliable 3000 and 5000 series wireless technology, AIDAprima also uses the innovative MobileConnect streaming solution, which allows for seamless integration into existing networks. AIDAprima opens a new chapter for cruise history, and Sennheiser’s vision to “Shape the Future of Audio” is a perfect match.
AIDAprima is solely equipped with wireless technology from Sennheiser, from the wireless microphone technology to wireless monitoring. “Equipping all ships of the fleet with products of the same manufacturer makes perfect sense,” explains Martin Zniva, Entertainment Technical Manager onboard AIDAprima. “This helps us with both service operations and the supply of spare parts. Besides this, the homogeneous infrastructure makes the technician’s work a lot easier when they change from ship to ship.” For shows with a high production value, Sennheiser components such from the 3000 and 5000 Series as well as Sennheiser IEM solutions are used, ensuring perfect sound with the highest audio quality.
The use of wireless systems in international waters and ports of diverse countries has some special requirements, as Martin Zniva describes: “Usable frequency spectrum is becoming increasingly scarce, largely due to the use of DVB-T. The better part of our events on board, however, takes place in the evening when the ship is no longer in a port, so that finding free frequency does not present a major challenge. If an individual frequency should be occupied, the technicians simply search for a free frequency using the Sennheiser WSM software – the Wireless System Manager has proven to be extremely handy in this respect!” The key advantage of professional Sennheiser solutions in this context is their large switching bandwidth of up to 184 MHz. The individual event locations aboard AIDAprima are assigned to different frequency ranges: in the Theatrium, the radio is switched between 470 and 681 MHz, in the Nightfly Club between 486 and 491 MHz, in the Beach Club between 479 and 484 MHz, in the Four Elements from 574 to 585 MHz and in the cozy Brauhaus between 576 and 587 MHz. In the Theatrium, there are 20 wireless transmitters in use (SKM 5200-II transmitter for hosts with dynamic MD 5235 microphone capsules, SKM 5200-II transmitters for vocals with KK 105-S capsules, and headsets with SK 5212-II bodypack transmitters) as well as ten wireless monitor channels using SR 2050 IEM transmitters.
Common spare parts, such as spare capsules, are stored on board, since on the high seas the procurement of technical components is difficult for obvious reasons. The technicians are sufficiently qualified to carry out minor repairs and the usual maintenance work on their own. The sound engineers have successfully completed training courses on wireless technology at Sennheiser in many cases.
The media technology used onboard AIDAprima was installed at the shipyard in Nagasaki, Japan, before the vessel was transferred to Europe. ASC Amptown System Company GmbH was the general contractor for media technology, including sound, light, communication and control, as well as networks in the public entertainment areas. The broadcast, video and LED technology was provided by Wärtsilä FUNA International GmbH. The stage was designed by Waagner-Biro AG.
AIDAprima has its own excellently equipped TV-production environment, the Broadcast Center, which channels all picture signals and distributes them to the numerous clients on board. To monitor sound, this facility uses four Neumann KH 120 A active speakers. The newest addition to the Broadcast Center is a Sennheiser ConnectStation CS1-C which is at the heart of the MobileConnect solution and which Martin Zniva describes as providing “a great benefit for people with a hearing impairment.”
In the past, entertainment areas on cruise ships had been equipped with special seating areas for guests with hearing impairments; audio signals were transmitted via induction loops installed underneath the floor. On modern cruise ships such as AIDAprima, guests can ask for a pocket receiver which picks up the signals and enables the guest to freely choose their seat.
With the innovative Sennheiser MobileConnect system, inclusion on board is set to go full speed ahead: After the test stage, passengers will be able to pick up the sound in four different areas with their own smartphones by using the free Sennheiser MobileConnect app (Android and iOS). The signal is broadcast via the ships own WiFi. Following the completion of an ongoing testing phase on AIDAprima, the new service will help make the prospect of a voyage on board the newest ship of the AIDA fleet even more universally appealing, thanks to the full inclusion of customers with individual hearing needs.
The Sennheiser products have already demonstrated their impressive robustness on board AIDAprima: Martin Zniva remembers a "flying hand-held transmitter", which slipped from the sweaty hand of a dancing singer during one of the swings in a particularly demanding choreography sequence. It flew several meters and hit the ground. But while the wire mesh of the basket on the KK 105-S Neumann capsule was slightly dented and scratched, the actual function was not affected at all.
“We have been working with Sennheiser for many years, and the high-quality Sennheiser products have consistently proven to be highly reliable in the field,” says Martin Zniva. “In light of this great past experience, there really wasn’t any question for us when we were looking for wireless systems for AIDAprima – we are incredibly happy to have Sennheiser!”