Martin Audio

Flower Power

Sue Su reports from the China Flower Expo in Shanghai, which has spent several months operating as a Covid field hospital

Founded in 1987, the China Flower Expo is the leading national floral and botanical event in the country. The 10th Flower Expo was held in 2021 in and around Dongping Forest Park in the Chongming District of Shanghai, a 10km2 garden space, before the site was requisitioned as a field hospital for a wave of Covid infection that hit the city in March.

The PA system for such a large area as the Flower Expo Park needed to be highly reliable, as well as providing clarity and accuracy. The Flower Expo committee, together with various government bodies organising the event, chose a TOA system supplied by Shanghai-based TOA China, which also provided full audio technical support. The company designed an all-IP digital network broadcasting system and an IP intercom system covering the indoor and outdoor exhibition areas and service facilities of the entire Flower Expo Park, to broadcast daily announcements and calls for missing people and lost property, as well as emergency services including evacuation and fire alarm.

TOA’s IP-1000 IP network audio management system was chosen for the project, with an IP-1000SM management host handling both broadcasting and intercom functions. The IP-1000SM forms a huge digital network encompassing IP network microphones, IP audio interface units, IP power amplifiers and speakers through switches based on the TCP/IP Ethernet protocol.

“The project required the broadcast loop for all outdoor zones and indoor venues to use an all-digital IP architecture,” explains TOA engineer, Shi Xiao Dong. “The central security control centre has the highest level of access and can control the audio content and volume of each broadcast zone using visualisation software, as well as the amplifiers of each sub-control centre. The project required the outdoor talkback terminals and visual alarm terminals of the IP intercom system to be connected to the IP broadcasting system through the LAN (local area network) in the Expo Park, so that they can be coupled together. This posed huge technical challenges for system control management, as well as for alignment. TOA technical engineers relied on the technical features and software of the TOA IP network system to solve these problems one by one.”

Housing four exhibition halls, the 30,000m2 Fuxing Pavilion was the Flower Expo’s main venue. With a classical Chinese sloping roof and colonnades, it has remained as a permanent building after the Flower Expo finished, and it was this building that was converted into a field hospital with more than 2,700 beds.

The Fuxing Pavilion’s computer room is in the central security control centre; the main computer room of the entire park and the location of the IP-1000SM system host. The room is also equipped with an IP-1000CI to receive alarm signals from the fire centre. If a fire occurs, emergency evacuation voice broadcasts are triggered for individual venues or the entire park. An IP-101RM IP network microphone is used for real-time announcements, with other external sources received via the IP-1000AF IP audio interface unit through the IP network. Signals are then output from the IP-1000AF to 78 A-3248D power amplifiers, 91 PC-1868D-CH ceiling speakers and 185 BS-1006 wall-mounted speakers for voice evacuation broadcast. The IP-101RM IP network microphones and N-XC90VS2 IP intercom terminals forming the intercom system can be connected to work in tandem with the IP broadcasting system.

The 1,200m2 Century Pavilion, resembling a colourful butterfly, and 400m2 Bamboo Pavilion surrounded by bamboo and rattan and shaped like an oval cocoon, also use IP-1000AFs to output audio sources to A-3248D amps and CS-64 waterproof speakers. Three temporary venues, the flower art museum, Huaqi Hall and Baihua museum, were also installed with IP-1000AFs and A-3248D amps, with a total of 100 PC-1868D-CH ceiling speakers and nearly 200 BS1006 wall-mounted speakers between them.

In a large outdoor area outside the Fuxing Pavilion, IP-100XI IP audio input modules receive their audio signals from the system software, sending them to the AX-0240 amps driving TZ-406BWP column speakers and GS-301D-CH outdoor speakers. The intercom terminals include the camera-equipped N-XC85AS2 and N-XC90VS2 models, coupled to the IP broadcasting system.

“The Flower Expo project combines the advantages of TOA’s IP network broadcasting system and IP intercom system,” concludes TOA’s marketing manager, Ding Wei. “The system is not only equipped to handle the daily announcements, but also takes the large area of the park into consideration. Thanks to the advantages of IP network technology, it combines convenience and safety, and provides an elegant background music environment and safety guarantee for people’s leisure and entertainment. It is also a great example of how TOA can be applied to large-scale public facilities, parks and outdoor open spaces in the future.”

When the Fuxing Hall was transformed into a field hospital, background music delivered by the TOA

system in this beautiful natural setting created a relaxed atmosphere for patients, while enabling staff to deliver announcements, daily updates, information and scheduled broadcasts in a way that hadn’t been envisaged when designing a flexible, efficient, multifunctional system for the Flower Expo, underlining the extreme flexibility and usefulness of the system.

Martin Audio


The Covid 19 pandemic has had a profound effect on the music industry in recent years, not least being on the international festival circuit, where many established events were forced to close.

Rock in Japan, the country’s largest festival was no exception, and suffered the same hiatus in 2020 and 2021. However, this year, it was finally ready to make its return and it did so in very different fashion. The five-day event was reborn as an urban style festival in a new location, having moved to the Soga Sports Park in the attractive coastal resort of Chiba from its previous home of Hitachinaka.

However, the change of location had been a major concern for those managing and promoting the shows. For Soga Sports Park is located near residences and in a densely populated shopping area—hardly ideal for holding a loud rock show. Additionally, it was the first time that a festival had taken place here. The potential of noise pollution problems caused huge headaches for the production team.

“We had to adopt a completely different the approach,” stated Shuzo Fujii, president of MSI Japan, the sound production company. “Up until now, we have always focused on how far we could throw our MLA loudspeaker array, but this time we had to think in an opposite direction.”


Shuzo Fujii, MSI Japan

With Tomoya Shitakubo, who also acted as system tech, in charge of the design,

they devised a unique solution which had not been adopted previously—importing a number of delay towers and developing a distributed sound system. MSI acknowledge that in the history of Japanese festivals, the distributed sound system approach had not been attempted, and so this became a voyage of discovery for both for the promoters and MSI crews.

“The promoter is our client, and he has specified MLA for the past 10 years,” stated Shuzo Fujii, who also acted as chief engineer for the event. “Everybody had faith that MLA would be able to overcome this difficult problem.”

The two main stages were both equipped with eight MLA per side for the main PA system. These were reinforced by 18 MLX subwoofers in cardioid pattern. The subs were set in two 3 x 3 cabinet stacks—on both sides of the stage—with the middle one in each reversed.

In addition, seven MLA arrays comprising seven elements were set in four locations as the delay towers (with eight delay towers in total).

Generally, delay towers are set symmetrically to provide coverage for both sides. However, these were positioned only for coverage on one wing in order to reduce the spill to the neighbouring residential area. The result was amazing. There was no difference in sound level, starting at the FOH mix position and sufficient power was distributed across the entire venue, meeting the required SPL and quality of sound.

“The result was a major success, not only because of the unique distribution design but also because of the controllability of MLA system. Once again, I was able to appreciate the wonderful capability of this loudspeaker,” Shuzo concluded.