Wiring for Creative Arts Education, Part 2
Jul 22, 2010 2:05 PM, With Bennett Liles
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For creative art students at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, gone are the days when recording engineers had to learn on the job. Technical Support Manager Mark Baker is here to give us the low-down on how the center uses an extensive Aviom system, digital mixers, and lots of other gear to teach the audio professionals of tomorrow.
And Mark, thanks very much for being back with me for part two on this, and in part one we were talking about the Cuyahoga Community College Center for Creative Arts and the tremendous facility you’ve got there for audio networking and just the list of all the facilities and the tools that you’ve got there is fantastic—particularly, to my interest, personally anyway, some of the more vintage stuff that you’ve got in there too. So what parts of the system are mobile? You’ve got some things in mobile racks?
When we initially came up with the design, you shoot for the stars and you reach the moon, but what we initially wanted to do was we really wanted to have anything to anywhere at anytime. In other words, it’s like we just wanted to be able to tap into a network based on like, “Hey, if I’m in room A, and I want to get a signal in room B, I just need to plug into the wall.” Once we got the price tag back on that particular scenario, we came up with huge amounts of Aviom gear in our rooms and we tried to figure out, “Well, what would be the most effective use of the Aviom equipment?” And to be thoroughly honest with you, what we decided to do in the end was the following: There’s very few times that we actually transferred information from studio to studio, maybe 10-12 times a year, so for us to dedicate Aviom equipment to each room that would be under utilized, it would seem like a good way to spend our money. So what we decided to do to make the most efficient use of the Aviom network was to create what were called input racks and output racks.
Now there’s a side note: What we decided to do was in the individual rooms themselves was to create a actual copper network, or in other words, we actually have copper home runs from the tracking room to our patch base and we use individually, in the rooms, the A16 queue system. So in other words, each room has its own A16 queue system that home runs specifically to that room and also our T1 lines tie specifically to that room. If we need to have information leave the room to go to another source or to another destination, what we decided to do was is that we create an input rack at one end and output rack at the other end [or] wherever it needs to be, whatever the destination is. The input racks can be one of two things: If it needs to be mic pre-based—in other words, if we need to go from one stage to a control room in another part of the building—our input racks actually consist of an A16D Pro and one ASI for the compatibility issue. We have two PB28s that are input modules or configured as inputs because the PB28s act as input and output modules to the other pieces. We have two 6416m mic pres for a total of 32 channels, and we also have a Cat-6 or just a network hub that ties into all of this from the front. We also have six 6416dios that we keep separately racked just in case we need to do digital transfers, but that hasn’t come up yet really. The input racks were covered there. The output racks, which go to the destination point, consist of the network hub again, which is basically just a RJ-45 strip. We have two PB28 in output configuration with male XLRs. We have two 64 I/Os, the 6416i, 6416o, and then we also have two remote control preamps. In other words, we call these RCIs, which act as the interface for the little box that’s called the MCS, which is the actual remote control that you can control the mic pres with at the other end. So in other words, what occurs is that you can have a microphone preamp at one end of the building or across the city, literally, if you’re connected by a fiber, and you can actually control those mic preamps from your control room on the other side of town, or the other side of the building, over the Aviom protocol, A-Net protocol. [Timestamp: 5:02]
That, in itself, is a tremendous advance that they’ve come up with in all these systems. I can still remember the days when I was breaking into doing TV remotes and running back and forth—really wore out a lot of shoe leather trying to give everything the initial listen and then running and adjusting preamps.
Yeah, I understand that they’re using it quite a bit for NASCAR now—Aviom systems that they’re getting them into the trucks. [Timestamp: 5:25]
Oh yeah, it would be a tremendous advantage there because there are so many places as far as that kind of setup that you can’t even get to.
So they’ve got remote preamp control, and one of the things that really makes this great to me is the different ways that you can configure it and do it quickly and easily. You can go from teaching them how to do say a live recording [or] say a music act and a separate person mixing the monitors—the stage monitors, and then go from that to a situation, where they may be having to do the monitor mixing and recording live PA and everything all from one console using the AUX outs.
Yeah, the Aviom inputs have D-sub splits, analog splits, or passive splits on the back. So I can feed downstairs, and like you said, I can actually take a split and run it to another location for whatever purpose that I deem necessary like monitors or a secondary recording system or whatever I decided to do. Again, the system is extremely flexible. It definitely has advantages. The key advantage, though, and I would say flat out if it wasn’t good in this department, would be the lack of latency that’s inherent to this system. It’s undetectable, and that’s the beauty of it. It’s flat out amazing that I can actually run a signal 400ft. over Cat-6 cable—64 channels of it, mind you, with no latency at all. [Timestamp: 6:55]
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