Toronto’s New Ripley’s Aquarium Takes Control With Q-Sys Core 500i

Located at the base of the iconic CN Tower in Toronto, the state-of-the-art Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada opened earlier this year.

The new high-tech building’s new sound reinforcement and paging systems feature a full complement of QSC loudspeakers and amplifiers, managed by a Q-Sys Core 500i integrated system platform.

The Q-Sys system centralizes the control of all background audio content throughout the new aquarium and represents the first large-scale installation of the processor to feature the optional MTP-128 playback engine, which expands the system’s capabilities from the standard 16 tracks to 128 tracks.

At 135,000 square feet (12,542 square meters), Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada is the largest indoor aquarium in the country ,encompassing nine galleries that represent freshwater and marine habitats ranging from the Great Lakes to tropical reefs and housing over 16,000 fish from over 400 species in 1.5 million gallons (5.7 million liters) of water.

The audio portion of the aquarium experience features a 70V distributed system comprised of more than 230 QSC AcousticDesign surface and ceiling-mount loudspeakers, powered by nearly 50 channels of CX Series amplifiers, plus K Series active loudspeakers, all under the control of Q-Sys.

The Core 500i acts as a single point source for playback of all background music and some sound design elements throughout the aquarium and outside the building’s main entrance.

The Core 500i was factory-fitted with the MTP-128 playback engine, together with a media drive upgrade enabling storage of up to 130 hours of audio, eliminating the need for any external media servers. Q-Sys also manages two-way communications with the dive shows at some of the exhibits, as well as routing and reinforcement of the wireless microphone systems used at the various sea life presentations.

“The Q-Sys offers a fully integrated solution and is based on a centralized processing architecture, allowing all of the processing to take place in one unit,” says Khalil Williams of Design Electronics. “This gave us complete flexibility with the system design as we could route any input to any output without convoluted signal paths. Q-Sys offered us a powerful suite of software and peripherals that made this project’s objectives very easy to achieve.”

The Core is installed with six Q-Sys I/O Frames that provide interconnection and routing to and from external equipment.

“Due to the vast size of the building, two networked rack rooms were required on separate floors,” says Williams. “By leveraging the Q-Sys system’s layer 3 protocols, we were able to build a simple audio network and transmit all sources throughout the entire building, including to a third rack room on the office level for the classroom environments at the Discovery Centre.

“Q-Sys works on standard Gigabit ethernet, so it can easily run on a shared network without segregating audio traffic via VLAN configuration

The Core 500i is configured to feed 40 individual zones that are outfitted with a variety of AcousticDesign ceiling-mount loudspeakers, including AD-Ci52T 5.25-inch and AD-C42T 4-inch models, and surface-mount loudspeakers, including AD-S82 8-inch, AD-S52T 5.25-inch and AD-S32T 3-inch models.

CX108 8-channel, CX204 4-channel, CX602 2-channel and CX1202 2-channel amplifiers power the AcousticDesign loudspeakers through the facility.

Design Electronics also installed two QSC PS-1600H 16-button page stations at the aquarium.

“The PS-1600H features a simple and redundant Ethernet connection to Q-Sys, and the Q-Sys software allowed us to provide extensive and sophisticated paging functionality to suit the client’s needs. The User Controlled Interfaces are very user-friendly, and allow the facility staff to easily manage daily security code changes or pre-recorded announcements. Virtual paging stations can be created on any networked computer and there is even the capability to page remotely via the internet” says Williams.

Design Electronics of Niagara Falls, Ontario was selected to supply and install all audio, video, security and CCTV equipment throughout the building. The company’s key personnel during the 12-week-long installation process included Khalil Williams, director of operations/project manager; Felice Taddeo, manager of technical services; Robert Jones, lead integrator; and Scott Daeng, project engineer.

As this was the company’s first experience with Q-Sys, four members of the installation team took QSC’s online certification course,, prior to the start of the project to gain a better understanding of the power and capabilities of the Q-Sys platform. Both QSC and SF Marketing, QSC’s distributor for Canada, also provided product support and consultation.


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