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The Inspiring 5,000-year History of Unique Henan: Land of Drama is brought to life with world-class Dante AV-over-IP network design, management

Spanning more than 100 acres and welcoming almost 10 thousand visitors each day (with nearly 20,000 visitors on holidays), Unique Henan: Land of Drama is recognized as the world’s largest fantasy city. This fantastic, self-guided, multi-media and immersive live performance experience tells the inspiring, 5,000-year history of Chinese civilization around the Henan region. A range of dramatic, full-immersion, panoramic storytelling encompasses 21 theaters and dozens of outdoor spaces, including 56 maze-like courtyards, multiple themed restaurants and food and beverage areas, and employs more than 800 performers. The attraction’s construction took four years to complete and cost nearly $930 million. Unique Henan: Land of Drama opened June 6, 2021.

The facility’s many lighting, video, and sound systems are controlled by a mix of preprogrammed, synchronized, time-code-based presentations, audio-triggered routines, as well as live production and mixing. At Unique Henan: Land of Drama, many elements of the global sound system and the many stand-alone systems are all built upon Dante audio networks managed and monitored with Dante Domain Manager.

“This is an amazing attraction. It’s like a theme park, but it’s all theater and AV experience-based. There are expansive indoor and outdoor spaces, restaurants, panoramic vistas, and more,” said Steven Cai, Marketing Manager, APAC, Audinate. “For sound design, each theater has very different venue characteristics, different performance forms, and different construction conditions. Each theater is unique. The only way to manage such a set of venues and bring consistency and reliability to the project was to design all audio systems around a Dante network with many Dante-enabled products.”

Steven explained that the vast number of loudspeaker points throughout the Land of Drama dictate that a very flexible sound system architecture be created to accommodate evolving, ongoing production and space changes. The main theaters, micro theaters, and outdoor scene spaces are all built on a Dante system architecture, which significantly simplifies the cable installation and connections between large systems. The three main theaters work as independent networks, and the micro theaters and the scene spaces interconnect through an optical fiber network.

“The AV integrator for this project, Advanced Communication Equipment (International) (ACE), did an amazing job,” said Steven. “As you can imagine, this is essentially more than 100 AV installations all wrapped up in one huge project. Many spaces work independently, and many are tied together. Some sound systems are hidden for background music, and some are large full-on line-array, concert-level productions. They even have mobile sound systems that can be relocated and positioned as needed to better cover larger crowds. The flexibility required here is like nothing else.”

The Dante platform is a complete AV-over-IP solution that allows audio, video and control data to be transported over standard 1GB ethernet networks. Supported in more than 3,000 Dante-enabled products from more than 500 manufacturers, Dante replaces point-to-point analog and digital connections with software based routing, effortlessly sending AV channels anywhere on the network with perfect digital fidelity. 

Andy Wei, Solution Manager, APAC, Audinate explains that: “Much of the sound system architecture is based on centralized control. The sound source equipment and the primary and backup digital mixers are located in a master control room. System digital processors and amplifiers are installed across four separate equipment rooms. Optical fiber interfaces are located at the performance venues, which can be connected to on-site mobile broadcast computers, wireless microphones, and other equipment as needed. All devices in different locations are connected through fiber to form a complete network enabling quick access, configuration, and management of the system at any network point.”

With such a large and complex system, hundreds of Dante-enabled devices are connected to the network. Some of the core Dante-enabled components include multiple Soundcraft Vi1000 and Vi2000 digital mixers, Shure ULX-D Series digital wireless microphones, a range of BSS digital processors, and much more. For signal routing and device control, powerful management software is required.

Andy added that the Platinum version of Dante Domain Manager (DDM) software is used for the network routing and configuration of the entire system. He explained that the system primarily adopts a multi-channel form of arranging the loudspeakers. No matter the location, there are speakers that can be positioned to enhance the sense of an immersive sound experience. At the same time, each speaker channel can be processed separately to facilitate even more processing flexibility.

Mr. Pang, the Audio System Administrator for the project was particularly impressed with how stable the system was thanks to DDM. 

“DDM gave us power and control over the Dante network, ensuring the network was not only more secure, but also more scalable,” said Mr. Pang. “Our team, as well as the entire management team, were really pleased with the results of this project, meaning DDM is now a non-negotiable tool for us in future Dante projects.” 

Dante Domain Manager is a server-based audio network solution that brings a centralized, complete view of an entire networked Dante deployment. Dante Domain Manager can show every device in every space while allowing seamless expansion of the AV network. Dante Domain Manager allows managers to define separate, non-interfering groups of devices that can only be accessed by authorized users. Support staff can stay on top of issues with a system-wide dashboard and complete set of alerts and audit logs to quickly track and troubleshoot issues.

“With the evolving nature of the programs and performances, the content, speaker positions, and the connected equipment in use are constantly changing; only a Dante network managed with Dante Domain Manager could take on a project of this scale,” added Steven. “Along with flexibility, sound quality and system reliability are also critical. The system — in all spaces — sounds great, is extremely stable, and the client is thrilled with the results.”

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