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Courthouse Audio, Part 2

Aug 26, 2014 8:17 PM, With Bennett Liles


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Editor’s note: For your convenience, this transcription of the podcast includes timestamps. If you are listening to the podcast and reading its accompanying transcription, you can use the timestamps to jump to any part of the audio podcast by simply dragging the slider on the podcast to the time indicated in the transcription.

From Sound & Video Contractor Magazine, this is the SVC Podcast show 112 part 2 with Bobby Harper of ACIR Professional. Show notes for the podcast are available on the web site of Sound & Video Contractor Magazine at svconline.com.

ACIR Professional had just a few days to get an old sound system out and a completely new Yamaha-based one in for the courthouse in Evesham, New Jersey. Bobby Harper is going to tell us about the speaker installation and how he tested the new courtroom sound system. That’s coming up next on the SVC Podcast.

Bobby, thanks for being back here with us for part two on the SVC Podcast, talking about the sound system installation at the Evesham, New Jersey courtroom. Is that right?

Yes, that’s right – the Township of Evesham.

And they use that room for a lot more than just as a courtroom. ACIR Professional put in a system to sound good and keep the operator part of it to a minimum. In part one, we talked about the processor but we didn’t talk about the mics and the speaker system and what was the timeline on this job? What was the first thing you had to do when you got in there?

Well they cold called us and their first question was do we do courtroom installations and of course my answer was yes. And we got out on site; I did a site survey. I talked extensively with the clerk and I think she was sold on the fact that we were very audio-based – not just AV equipment-based, but we were also mixing engineers and that’s really what she told me is why she went with us for this job. I actually thought the job went away. I guess they needed time. Once I gave them my quote they needed time to secure the funds and I think I got a phone call maybe five months after my bid. [Timestamp: 1:59]

Time for the wheels of government to turn, I guess.

Exactly. And you know the thing that’s weird is that they run court and they run these other events in there all week. I thought I was gonna have a real compressed timeline for like Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, and that’s the timeframe they allowed us. And I was nervous about it. I was nervous because it was my first courtroom install. I believe, if I’m not mistaken, it was Yamaha CIS’ first courtroom install and we got in there and the first thing my guys had to do was take out the old speakers. While they were doing that, prevailing wage electricians came in and ran the cables to the new speakers. And then the next thing that had to happen was the installation of the new speakers and that went so quick we actually bought just about a whole day of labor. [Timestamp: 2:56]

Yeah, I was going to ask you about how the speaker installation went. There were how many of those?

Well there wasn’t a lot. I think it was 12 in the gallery, 13, 14 – it was only like 16 speakers, not a lot. It was four zones and I was still doing some programming. The MTX5, you obviously have to program it for each zone and what you want in it and how you want to compress anything and EQ’s, so it was funny because I would literally start it on the first day doing that and I turned around and my guys were done on the speaker part and I was pretty impressed. [Timestamp: 3:32]

So in the courtroom, how much manual control do they have with the Shure mics and all that?

The only control they have on each microphone with the MX418’s is a mute – a cough switch, a mute switch, a momentary – so they can mute. That’s it. They can’t control volume. They can only select between the court preset and the meeting preset. That’s all they can do. And they can mute individual mics momentarily, but that’s all they can do. [Timestamp: 4:04]

So they can’t get themselves into too much trouble.

Nope. Not at all.

And you stored the two presets in the MTX5, only two. That’s keeping it simple for what they need.

Yep.

What other Yamaha gear did you use on this one?

Really that was it other than the amplifier. That was a four-channel – it’s part of the CIS installation series as well and it’s the XMV series and it’s a 70-volt. It can be either 70 or eight ohms, four ohms, whatever you want. You select between the two. But it’s basically a four-channel amplifier. They make maybe two, four, six, eight different versions. [Timestamp: 4:43]

We talked earlier about how Yamaha worked with this. Would you call that a package deal they did for you?

Well not so much a package deal. This whole thing is a commercial installation solution. And what it is, is this amplifier, this mixer BSP unit, extender, the Dugan, the speakers. They’re all part of the CIS solution so it’s one-stop shopping. They’re not gonna give you any discounts or anything like that. It’s not a deal, it’s just the fact that I don’t have to go to a manufacturer for my speakers, a separate manufacturer for my amplifier, a separate manufacturer for my DSP mixer. And because of that, you know it’s gonna work. It’s plug-and-play. I don’t have to figure out how I’m gonna get this unit to talk to this unit. It’s all done through two ways, three ways. It can mean we analog the whole system. It can be Yamaha’s YDIF, which is their digital transmission, and then the processor talking to the amplifier can be also an added third way, Dante, which is their Dante transmission that has a new protocol out there that a lot of manufacturers are starting to go with now. [Timestamp: 6:00]

And of course the main thing is that you knew from the start that everything would work together.

Well that’s the beauty of it. I knew it would work. I knew I was gonna go after this market so Yamaha could get me a demo of the entire system before I even bid on this job and I was able to learn it. And Yamaha flew out to the Township of Evesham. They showed up and they put their two cents in and I was really glad they did. They were happy with the end result as well as I was and more importantly the client’s very happy with it. [Timestamp: 6:33]

Well sometimes on these things the installation turns out to be the easy part and then training the non-techie people to operate it gets more interesting. It sounds pretty simple, though. Was there any amount of user training involved?

There is absolutely none. It’s a switch on the wall and it’s labeled “Court” or “Meeting.”

You can’t get much simpler than that. Did you have any kind of surprises or tweaks to deal with after you got it going?

I had a couple of things it occurred to me that I maybe should have thought of beforehand. One was jailhouse communication. Typically in these courtrooms they do a video feed and an audio feed to and from multiple jailhouses, which this particular courtroom also did. So I had to figure that out, you know, how much of that do I have to replace, if any. How is it interfaced with this system? How do I test it? Because again, it’s all existing so I was in so many closets looking for wires and nobody there – there’s no technicians there. These courtrooms, the contractors come in, they install the stuff, they may or may not give them documentation, and then they leave. And then the next guy comes in and says, ‘What do you want here? How does this happen?’ They go, ‘We don’t know. We have no idea.’ So I finally figured out how that whole thing worked and to test it I actually had to call the jailhouse and make sure the feed was working and it sounded good and it wasn’t too loud and vice versa. That was the one thing that was really important because that’s all I needed was come Tuesday they had court and the judge couldn’t talk to somebody who was incarcerated. That would have been my butt on the line. I would have been the next person in front of the judge. [Timestamp: 8:25]

A video arraignment I think they call it.

Exactly. That is what they call it. But the other problem that I realized I could have is light safety system, which I could have handled with the Yamaha processor. It’s designed to accept contact closure and all that stuff, but they had an existing light safety support system, a fire safety override, which was connected and they added the wall speaker strobes, so that became a non-issue. Originally you had to have a siren go off, but then I guess they finally realized what if somebody’s deaf? They have to be able to see a strobe. So now a lot of these – Honeywell makes a wall speaker/strobe that gets tied into the fire safety system, so fortunately for me I was cleared on that and I didn’t have to worry about that part. [Timestamp: 9:22]

It sounds like you got them off to a good start and maybe even learned a few things about courtroom sound systems in the process so you’ll be ready to go the next time.

Absolutely.

So what’s coming up next for ACIR Professional? Where are you going from here?

Well outside of our typical rentals, which like I told you earlier in part one how crazy we’ve been. I have some installation projects. I have a gymnasium and a technical school in Atlantic County. I have a labor – a time-and-materials installation for some video equipment in a small school in Atlantic County. I have a ballroom speaker installation at the Tropicana Casino Hotel, and I have a speaker installation with a mixer and amplifiers at the same Tropicana Casino Hotel in their lounge. So that’s like four installs I have over the next two or three weeks along with all our rentals. We have a sound company for Tony Bennett and we just finished a big jazz festival. It was 10 venues, 24 acts over three days and we supplied everything – sound, video, lighting and backline. So we’re gonna be busy the next year. If you know anybody that’s looking for a job give them my number. [Timestamp: 10:44]

Alright. Plenty going on. Thanks for taking the time to tell us about it. Bobby Harper, VP of Sales with ACIR Professional in Mays Landing, New Jersey. Nice sound system installation in the Evesham Township courtroom. Now when they call you to do a courtroom installation you can really tell them, “Yes we do that.”

Yeah, we do. Thank you, Bennett. It was a pleasure talking with you.

Thanks for being here with us for the SVC Podcast with Bobby Harper of ACIR Professional. Show notes for the podcast are available on the website of Sound & Video Contractor Magazine at svconline.com. Be back with us here next time for the SVC Podcast.



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