Boardwalks, especially the famed ones found in New Jersey, are a slice of Old America kept alive by their inimitable charm. But there’s nothing charming about walking on them while old speakers fail at playing atmospheric music. Cue Starlite and Community Loudspeakers – an integrator and manufacturer – who teamed up to take the Boardwalk in Ocean City, NJ., to the 21st century.
Ocean City officials recognized that their old sound system, used for announcements and music along the historic boardwalk and at a space known as the Music Pier, was extremely outdated and ineffective.
They organized with Starlite, an integrator based in Moorestown, NJ., Buck’s and Sons Electric, and several manufacturers to plan a new design.
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Starlite Goes to the Beach
The criteria were few and simple: provide intelligibility at an appropriate sound pressure level along a one-mile span of the boardwalk. The factors surrounding the project, however, were a bit more complicated.
As the name “Ocean City” suggests, the area is awash in briny air from the sea. Parts that aren’t completely outdoor-rated would suffer the fate of anything exposed to the seaside environment for long enough: rust, electronic malfunctions, and inevitable leaks.
The installation also had to accommodate for enormous crowds and the mile-long length that the signal and power had to travel.
Inside Starlite’s Ocean City, NJ Boardwalk Solution
To ensure proper power and signal flow along the length of the boardwalk, the team opted for networking the remotely-located amp racks along with network extenders by Paton Electronics which run the cable over the mile without any splices.
The system includes 70 Community Loudspeakers (R.35COAX) with custom Polar Focus pole mounts; 4 QSC CXD4.5Q 8000-watt amplifiers; and a Q-SYS Core 110F integrated scalable A/V controller.
Starlite says the Q-SYS was instrumental in optimizing amplification, wattage per zone, and speaker taps. The company says they also included a custom Graphical User Interface (GUI) for the touch screen with a pictorial view of 9 boardwalk zones with Community Loudspeakers’ products.
The Ultimate Test: Ocean City Boardwalk on Memorial Day
The project took one month to complete in the off-season, but officials greatly anticipated seeing the system in action during the official start of summer: Memorial Day.
Ocean City, NJ representative Michael Dress calls Starlite a “pillar in the industry.” “We are fortunate to have such a world-class company in our backyard!” Dress says.
Fortunate may be the precise word for the situation. On opening weekend, a child went missing on the boardwalk and employees used the new system to swiftly make announcements over the speakers. Shortly after, a follow-up announcement came over the speakers: the child was safe and sound.
“We could hear applause and cheers up and down the boardwalk,” adds Dress.
The city’s new system will likely play a critical role in its annual fireworks displays and Air Shows.
Starlite’s Equipment Highlights
Community Loudspeakers R.35COAX (70)
Polar Focus pole mounts (70)
QSC CXD4.5Q 8000-watt amplifiers (4)
Q-SYS Core 110F integrated scalable A/V controller