Habitat by Honestbee installs discreet K-array sound system

Habitat By Honestbee Front Entrance (Photo credit: Honestbee)

Key facts

  • Project type:
    • Installed
    • Restaurant/Bar
  • Location:
    • Pasir Panjang, Singapore
  • Client:
    • Honestbee
  • Brief:
    • Installation of a discreet sound system that is both powerful and behaves well in the acoustics of the cavernous space

  • Equipment:
      • K-array KK102
      • K-array KV52
      • K-array KU26
      • K-array KMT18P Subwoofer
      • K-array KA84 Amplifier
      • K-array KB1 Portable PA
      • Cloud DCM1e
  • Year: 2018

High performance sound meets great aesthetics

Speculation regarding the death of the retailer and the shopping mall may prove to be premature. Taking the battle back towards Ai and the global internet retailers – habitat by honestbee is an integrated online and offline grocery and dining concept that offers a wonderland of food experiences. Customers can choose to purchase over 20,000 Asian and global flavours, ingredients and essentials, either directly at habitat by honestbee or via the honestbee app. Having planted its first seed four years ago in Singapore, the world’s first tech-integrated multi-sensory grocery and dining destination has returned to the Lion State. The latest 60,000 square feet space that opened in the Pasir Panjang neighbourhood, reasserts the brand’s mission into becoming Asia's fastest-growing food service. But this is the 21st century and as such, the concept powered by technology - including a savvy audio system.

The tastefully designed environment combines the roles of supermarket, speciality fresh grocer, online fulfilment centre, retail innovation hub and experiential dining destination., honestbee also relies upon world-class, on-demand logistics, flexible jobs opportunities and a strong network of 12,000 partners across the eight countries and 16 cities they are in, to deliver innovative services. Labelled 'NewGen Retail' by honestbeeCEO and founder, Joel Sng, innovation in retail technology are being conceptualised to inspire more human engagement for this novel shopping experience. These include a cashless checkout experience termed AutoCheckout and a robotic collection point called RoboCollect. With orders that can be processed end-to-end in under five minutes, the smart infrastructure ensures a hassle-free shopping experience with operational productivity.

Once items are ready for collection, shoppers head to the collection point, where robots directly deliver the bags of groceries. Orders are processed within five minutes and fulfilled by shopper bees using overhead conveyor belts that stretch across the entire space. ‘Since honestbee launched in 2015, we have used technology as a way to provide greater convenience into people’s lives and to boost the economy through jobs creation and upskilling,’ explained Mr Sng. ‘We believe that technology should be harnessed in the quest of quality human interaction giving customers more time to enjoy meals with their family or share conversations with friends.’

In honestbee’s quest to differentiate itself, the audio technology hasn’t been overlooked nor has it been spared. The selection of loudspeaker systems installed throughout habitat by honestbee for its’ BGM, paging announcements and live music promotions endorses the cornerstone theme that retail is detail. Supplied and installed by Loud Technologies Asia (LTA), several models of K-array speakers are tailored for the various zones they cover.

‘LTA was first contacted about this space earlier this year, whereupon our first impressions turned towards the high 12m height ceiling and harsh acoustic surfaces including wall to ceiling glazing and plaster,’ Quek recalls. ‘I was familiar with their unique operations in the region and was immediately impressed by the disruptive technologies such as customer laundry services, food and wine tastings together with automated packing and handling. So when I met the team behind the concept, I knew it was far from being a regular supermarket.’

The LTA team realised that habitat by honestbee would require something more than a normal paging system with some BGM. ‘I discovered that regular live performers would be taking to a stage,’ furthers Quek ‘Therefore, a regular point source system wouldn’t work owing to the acoustic properties of the space. The traditional adoption of ceiling speakers and pendants suspended from such a height also wouldn’t work because of inadequate dispersion and distortion issues. Fortunately, K-array’s catalogue of high directivity speakers would fit the bill and so we designed a system in this space using several of these models.’

The combination of six KK102 Kobra speakers and two KMT18P Thunder 18-inch subwoofers create the main FOH system for staging events and live music. Housed in a 1.0m stainless steel chassis discretely measuring 59mm d x 81mm w, the Kobra KK102 passive systems create true line array characteristics. Comprising 16 1-inch transducers, the KK102 impressed the honestbee management during a demonstration at LTA’s showroom. ‘It was important to provide an initial listening evaluation to better appreciate the low distortion, plain phase coherence and high intelligibility offered by this speaker,’ added Quek. A further demonstration in the honestbee space showed it to reproduce the whole vocal frequency range from 200 Hz (-3dB) across its’ 110° horizontal x 35°vertical coverage area.

With the SPL’s concentrated on the stage area, a further six Vyper-KV52s serve as delays to create a distributed audio flow towards the pick-up area at the rear. Housed in a 500mm aluminium chassis that measures 39mm x 21mm in depth and width, the Vyper-KV52 is Quek’s star of the show focusing its’ energies on 10° V coverage. ‘Aesthetics were an issue, but anyone shopping here is hard-pressed to notice the KV52-Vypers. Having positioned the speakers at higher points initially, we discovered a build-up of acoustic energies, but fortunately, the building permits were delayed allowing us time to lower them to an optimum height.’

‘We discretely installed several Rumble KU26’s onto columns,’ furthers Quek. ‘These fulfil the requirement for LF augmentation and full range audio for the rear delays.’ Selected for their sleek, compact 350 x 180 x 118mm profile, the dual six-inch subs low-frequency extension to 45 Hz. Further Rumbles in the form of the KU44 model provide the right ambience when companioning the KZ12 Lyzard speakers within the private wine tasting, bottle shop, dining area and VIP rooms. Intimate to some listeners, yet invisible to most, the Lyzard-KZ12 is a unique micro line array that contains of four 0.5-inch drivers housed in a sleek 22 x 100 x 12mm chassis. The Lyzards operate in a frequency range above 250hz (+/- 6dB), whilst the dual 4-inch KU provide musical low end down to 50Hz.

The K-array signature within habitat by honestbee is extended with the addition of further KV50-Vyper models for the outside and concierge areas. Whilst the Toasting Room is catered for with a pair of KF26 dual six-inch Domino cabinets, a Piccolo audio system is dedicated to the Oyster Bar. Finally, a portable plug ‘n’ play KB1 combining a line array top, 12-inch subwoofer, 4-channel mixer and multi-effects with 16 pre-sets engine can be called upon for events.

A combination of five KA14, KA24 and KA84 Kommander amplifiers powers the entire system. Comprising GPIO for external analogue controls, the LTA team could configure the internal EQ, matrix, levels, delays and limiter functions on each channel. These DSP functions are remotely controlled via the K-framework software over an RS485 network or USB connection. ‘The on-board library pre-sets that exist for each K-array speaker ensured simplified configuration,’ explains Quek.

A Cloud DCM1e digital zone control mixer provides overall and selective paging on the main supermarket floor in addition to several smaller zones including the break-out rooms and back-of-house areas. Denoting Ethernet, the e-version of the eight-zone mixer provides control from any device that hosts a browser, such as a smartphone. This allows the facility manager to manage the sources and volume levels. The remote input plates that have been integrated around the facility cater for localised events in addition to the stage area, where musicians can their microphone inputs into an 8-channel Mackie ProFX8 Mixer. Furthermore, different rooms can play different sources whenever they prefer to suit their particular ambience.

The digital mixer can be remotely managed and controlled by Quek and his LTA engineers. ‘If enabled, we can manage the entire system off-site from anywhere around the world by simply dialling-in when required,’ he explains. ‘We can check the parameters or indeed manage the settings should a user have incorrectly or accidentally changed them.’ Localised volume and source selection can be further configured via two CDR-1W panels, one of which is installed in the office. The other is located at the reception desk with a PM8-SA multi-zone paging microphone which comes with a 'spot announcer' that can store up to eight pre-recorded messages internally on a standard SD memory card. The ‘group' function allows an individual message – usually a regular announcement - to be played to a number of grouped zones when remotely triggered by a remote timer or fire panel during an evacuation procedure.

Mindful of the user experience, the NextGn Retailer demanded clear, intelligible audio for its’ outlet. ‘Their customers want to browse, chat and relax - so the ambience is important,’ summarises Quek. ‘The demographics of this store are very wide with a mixed crowd of young and old shoppers, so the audio had to cater for them all.’ It would appear that this design is going to be replicated so it was vital that LTA met the high requirements of the tech-savvy owners. ‘Fortunately, we were able to strike a balance with the cost of putting in a premium brand that would combine intelligibility with powerful music reproduction. However, it also had to fulfil the minimalistic aesthetic values associated with a sleek, powerful and discrete low-level music reproduction normally associated high levels. Naturally, we are proud to be associated with this group.’

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