The historic Souk Okaz was was established 12 centuries ago and has been revived as a tourist resort in Taif, Saudi Arabia. Now celebrating its sixth anniversary year, Souk Okaz which was re-established by Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal is an annual event featuring a variety of cultural events including seminars, poetic evenings and folk performances. At the heart of Souk Okaz is the public theater which boasts a seating capacity for over 3000 people. The modern day auditorium which is built in the historic marketplace is the venue for the poetry and storytelling competitions which are the highlight of the deeply cultural event.
Eager to ensure the very best listening experience for the visitors to the fair, but limited by minimal experience in the field of audio engineering, Ascon Co. Ltd., the contractor for the project, turned to Modern Lifestyles, a Jeddah based distributor specializing in audio and entertainment solutions. The Souk Okaz theater is a semi-permanent tent structure and Modern Lifestyles was tasked with designing a solution which would account for unique echo and reverb issues in such a setting. Also, given the nature of the structure, the systems would have to operate effectively under a wide range of weather and site conditions.
Modern Lifestyles proposed a solution by Sennheiser Middle East, given the vendor's consistent performance as a top market brand, that included a DAS Audio AERO 8-A Line-Array system and Sennheiser G3 wireless systems with antenna distribution. Commenting on the factors behind the selection, Majd Al Khattib, Technical Director at Modern Lifestyles said, "With the poetry and story telling competitions taking center place at the fair, Saudi Diyar and Ascon had set extremely high expectations of the audio systems. The solution had to be customized to handle speech and poetry with the utmost clarity. These requirements coupled with the complexity raised by the tent-like structure meant that we need to select a vendor with both the best product and the most professional support services."
Majd Al Khattib added, "We carried out extensive market analysis and we were extremely impressed with the professionalism displayed by the Sennheiser team throughout the stringent selection process. They were the most thorough and unlike any of the other vendors, they carried out extensive acoustic analysis, with the direct support from DAS Audio, to present us with simulations that ensured optimal performance."
Sennheiser ME worked closely with Modern Lifestyles through each phase of the project including programming and commissioning of the system.
There were aspects of the project that raised unique challenges for the design team. For one, the auditorium is situated atop a 1900 meter mountain plateau and a part of this mountain is contained within the theater to create a rustic feel. Ryan Burr Technical Sales Manager for Sennheiser said. "There were certain complexities that required for us to be flexible in our design approach. To ensure that we got the project realized in a concise and efficient manner, we took the decision to get Sennheiser UK’s sound reinforcement specialist, involved with the commissioning."
Modern Lifestyle's system integration team completed the installation within just four days after which the team from Sennheiser ME began extensive testing of the system. This involved sound pressure testing and comparison of the system's actual performance to that during simulation. The results met and exceeded the performance metrics on all criteria.
The theater now boasts of a state-of-the-
The meticulous planning, simulation, solution implementation and testing and use of the highest quality products have helped deliver a future-proof solution guaranteed to entertain audiences for years to come.
In conclusion, Majd Al Khattib said "We are excited about launching this theater in 2013. We are sure that the experience will be different now that the sound system and all other ancillary components are ready. We thank both Sennheiser ME and DAS Audiofor their support, patience and professionalism in carrying out this project with us."
The Sennheiser Group, with its headquarters in Wedemark near Hanover, Germany, is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of microphones, headphones and wireless transmission systems. The family-owned company, which was established in 1945, recorded sales of around €531 million in 2011. Sennheiser employs more than 2,100 people worldwide, and has manufacturing plants in Germany, Ireland and the USA. The company is represented worldwide by subsidiaries in France, Great Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark (Nordic), Russia, Hong Kong, India, Singapore, Japan, China, Canada, Mexico and the USA, as well as by long-term trading partners in many other countries. Also part of the Sennheiser Group are George Neumann GmbH, Berlin (studio microphones and monitor loudspeakers)