Article originally featured in PRO AUDIO ASIA magazine, Nov-Dec 2010
NEW ZEALAND: Working in close conjunction with Inter-M, UK induction loop system manufacturer Ampetronic has developed the XA88 to bridge the technology gap for reliable induction loop systems in public transport vehicles, as recently demonstrated in an installation for a new ﬂeet of electric trains in New Zealand.
Manufactured by Hyundai-Rotem in South Korea for Greater Wellington Rail Ltd, the Matangi class trains – soon to serve suburban routes around New Zealand’s capital city – have been installed with the ﬁrst 100 XA88 units. Each carriage of the two-car trains boasts an XA88 loop ampliﬁer, thereby avoiding the complication of the induction loop having to be taken between the carriages via jumper cables.
Although modern reinforced concrete buildings provide plenty of challenges for induction loop installers, the vibration and greater percentage of metal in a moving railway carriage is a much sterner test. However, recorded announcements feature on most modern trains, whilst live intercom announcements have been an integral part of public transport for several decades. Therefore it is vital that those with a hearing impairment are not denied the ability to hear such announcements.
Two main challenges reportedly faced Ampetronic and Inter-M as they attempted to ﬁnd a solution – making a loop ampliﬁer rugged enough to withstand the vibration of a moving vehicle, and overcoming the signiﬁcant signal loss caused by the amount of metal in the trains’ construction.
Solving the ﬁrst problem is the new system’s use of military-grade MIL-C-5015 connectors and a heavy case. The XA88 delivers a typical output of 11A RMS, features two fully isolated, balanced inputs from line level sources or loudspeaker systems and can be built for 110v or 24v DC power supply. Conforming to all relevant European standards for railway use, the XA88 can also be manufactured to IP65 standard for protection by solids and water. A range of other options including alternative power supplies, different output levels, an additional input, remotely enabled inputs and supply with a mounting tray or brackets are also available. Measuring 300 x 250 x 86cm, the XA88 also has a wide range of other potential transport uses, such as on local and long- distance buses and coach trips.
‘While induction loops have become widespread in the buildings associated with public transport, the vehicles themselves have lagged behind because the technology hasn’t been available to reliably facilitate the installation of loop systems in them,’ explained Ampetronic managing director Julian Pieters. ‘By developing the XA88, we are providing that technology, meaning that there is now no reason why announcements on trains, trams, metros and buses cannot be just as available to anyone with a hearing impairment as they already are at ticket ofﬁces, stations and terminal buildings.’