As with most airports, the duty free is a must-do. This is the case at Iceland’s Keflavík International Airport, which has two Duty Free Iceland shops.

Duty Free Iceland store manager Þorgerður Þráinsdóttir set out to replace two 70V audio systems with one cohesive, cutting-edge audio system, calling upon Thor Halldórsson and his team at Northern Lights Audio to design and install a low maintenance, yet highly functional four-zone audio system that spans the airport’s upper and lower level Duty Free Iceland shops with Niles Auriel multi-room audio controller.

“A request came from them through an airport building contractor for a system to better enhance shopping experience,” Thor tells CIE.

“At first, my team was asked to design, develop and install a system in the airport’s 24/7 operating Duty Free Iceland in the Departures Hall,” he adds. “After we succeeded in building a powerful and reliable three zone audio system, we were then asked to extend our services to the second Duty Free Iceland in the Arrivals Hall on the lower level. Store management was so impressed with Auriel’s capabilities. The new system has completely changed how they handle their operations; they are now able to autonomously stream music from Spotify into different zones.”

Since Duty Free Iceland never closes, a reliable audio system is a must. To make functional and reliable audio a reality, Thor installed a Niles MRC-6430, 30 Niles OS6.3 speakers and two Niles SI1230 12-channel amplifiers, all of which can be controlled by store management on one Niles nKP7 keypad.

“Niles Auriel offers control for the end-user, and seamless integration for the installer,” Thor explains. “Both of these elements are key to the success of an installation of this nature.”

Given the heightened security in an airport terminal, Thor had limited time to complete the installation. With meticulously constructed plans and a team of professional experts, the first store’s audio system was completed in three days total.

“We started and completed the system in three days’ time,” Thor reflects. “Working within an airport’s guidelines is tricky. We’d have to go through security every day with equipment, as if we were boarding a flight. Timing was also an issue to skirt the main arrivals times and facilitate a quick install. It was a very unique way to work through an installation.”

Thor first established three zones of audio based on location and function to cater to the store’s specific retail elements. For example, Thor integrated the store’s cash register intercom to the speakers closest to the check-out area; this function allows open registers to indicate their status by calling customers forward. Only the speakers at the front of the store operate as such.

“It was very easy to integrate the store’s cash register system with the speakers closest to the register,” he says. “In between the register announcements, the speakers will stream music from a pre-made Spotify playlist.”

To ensure that customers can hear important announcements about their flight, the team integrated the airport’s formal intercom system in with the store’s audio system. “The music will stop once an announcement of greater importance is registered within the system,” Thor says. “This functionality is crucial for an airport application.”

For the Duty Free Iceland shop in the Arrivals Hall on the lower level, the team added a fourth zone approximately three months later. “We arranged to add a fourth audio zone on the Auriel system upstairs to extend downstairs,” Thor confirms. “So, instead of an installing an entirely new system, I effectively installed a second Niles SI1230 12-Channel Amplifier and twelve more Niles OS 6.3 speakers. Both systems can therefore be controlled by one Niles Auriel Multi-Room Audio Controller.”

Thor states that despite the challenges, it was actually “rather an easy install due to the Niles system; the main issues were getting a secure Internet connection for the delivery of music and info to play. Later we discovered a simple audio connection between floors and added a fourth zone to the arrivals Duty free store. We had some minor issues with the wiring of speakers and ceiling tiles, but in the end it is a good sounding store.”

Overall, Duty Free Iceland’s management team is thrilled with the new audio system. “Now, we can feed seasonal pre-made Spotify playlists through the system. It’s a significant improvement and completely alters the vibe of both retail locations,” Þorgerður enthuses. “Having the option to customise audio in different zones makes a huge difference.”

Thor agrees: “It sounds really nice at the levels it’s played at. I even had the opportunity to travel through recently and it really does sound good!”

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