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EAW and Digital Village go to University

Jul 6, 2006 12:00 PM


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Loudspeaker manufacturer Eastern Acoustic Works (EAW) and Digital Village, one of the United Kingdom's leading suppliers of professional recording equipment, recently installed state-of-the-art audio technology in Britain's new Culture Lab. The result of a 4-million-pound investment by the University of Newcastle and the British government's Science Research Investment Fund, the university's Culture Lab is a multi-application, multi-user digital media facility with the goal to develop new digital technology solutions for research problems in the arts, humanities, and social sciences.

Culture Lab boasts a live event space for performances, lectures, interactive displays, and workshops where students can customize hardware and software. All of Culture Lab's spaces are networked using EtherSound over standard Cat-6 cable and, as a result, Culture Lab users have access to excellent computer resources. Specific features of the Lab include a testing and recording studio for digital sound and labs for multimedia audiovisual projects.

Digital Village's growing install division, aptly named Digital Village Installations (DVI), was a key supplier for the project. In addition to supplying and installing a full professional post-production and recording facility, DVI also provided a comprehensive EAW NT series self-powered loudspeaker system, along with a Mackie TT24 digital mixing console for the new live performance space.

The system consist of six EAW NT26 two-way loudspeakers with a 12in. driver and 60ºx45° dispersion pattern; six EAW NT59 loudspeakers with a 15in. driver and dispersion pattern of 90ºx45°; and six EAW NTS22 dual 12in. subwoofers. All NT series loudspeakers offer high output-to-weight ratios, making them a perfect fit for smaller installations that still require high performance. The NT series contains Gunness Focusing, the new onboard DSP technology developed by EAW and named after the company's director of research and development, David Gunness.

Newcastle University's John Ayers, who specified the system, states, "We were looking for a system that could provide as close as possible to studio monitor-like sound quality but with the output of a PA speaker. We tested a number of different systems from several manufacturers, comparing each one against Genelec studio monitors, and the EAW NT solution was the only one that came close. While other systems had the output, none could combine it with the audio quality of the NT Series. Furthermore, NT is lightweight, compact, and portable, and the trapezoidal design of the mid-hi cabinets means that they can easily serve as floor monitors if required."

Ayers explains that given the huge diversity of applications for which the system would be used, flexibility and superlative audio quality were the main focus points throughout his comparison exercise. He adds, "We required something that could go from being a classic sound reinforcement system to being a creative part of a complex electro-acoustic production. That meant that each component had to sound as good individually as the sum of the parts."

A Mackie TT24 digital mixing console was selected using much the same criteria of flexibility, sonic excellence, and, in this case, ease of use. Mackie is sister brand to EAW under the Loud Technologies parent company. "We needed a console that visiting researchers would be able to get to grips with relatively quickly," Ayers says. "The TT24 suited us very well in that it is flexible enough to handle everything from traditional front-of-house PA configurations to surround-sound diffusion for electro-acoustic music, yet remains simple enough to configure and set up that first-time users can be productive very quickly." Ayers adds that by connecting to the EtherSound over Cat-6 network, the audio can be routed anywhere in the facility, be it to the recording or postproduction facility.

Ayers concludes, "Culture Lab is a truly unique facility and a very exiting project to be involved in. It was enlightening to work on such a high-spec facility as we had the opportunity to look at the best the industry has to over before making our choices. EAW's NT series loudspeaker and the Mackie TT24 console fitted the bill perfectly."





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