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Audio for Multi-use Auditorium, Part 2

Sep 24, 2013 10:32 AM, With Bennett Liles

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Oh well that’s a great way to go where you have it like two separate systems, sort of a speech animal and a separate music system.

Pierson:: Correct. And there’s also a number of wireless microphones that are part of the system as well, so there was a total of eight wireless Sennheiser systems that were included with the system in which case, due to the flexibility of the system, we can either route them just directly as a speech system or we can route them back to the mixer to have control over them in that location. [Timestamp: 6:13]

This is a really ambitious project. That’s a lot of gear to get put in place and connected and tested. What kind of a timeframe did you have on getting this whole thing done?

Carlson: The project itself, construction-wise, started in June and we started getting in there, really to get the wire pulled and get the backbone in probably about September. And we were finishing up the last tuning and programming and whatnot in January. So the whole thing was about six, seven months. [Timestamp: 6:40]

That’s not bad. You had time to make sure that everything is put in right. Was there anything unexpected that came up with all of this that you had to deal with?

Carlson: The columns for the speakers; there was some discussions about that as far as looking at it from the architectural side, was that it looks like it was part of the room, but also that it would still work to house the speakers. So we had to have a whole discussion about putting the speaker 6in. behind the column and still expect it to project into the room and being able to talk the different languages with the architect and the general and the school and everything like that, so. [Timestamp: 7:16]

Ah, the old acoustics versus aesthetics debate.

Carlson:Yes, yes. That’s the name of the debate.

Yeah, well it never ends, especially if you have an old historic building or something. So when you rang all of this out and tested it did everything pretty well work out as planned?

Pierson: Oh, absolutely. In fact one of the most pleasing parts was the first time it got fired up after Ralph finished tuning it up for us. The output was just purely amazing, and it achieved some of our main goals, which was to get underneath the balcony in the back of the room with all the intelligibility that we needed to showcase all of the forums. [Timestamp: 7:52]

Did you run into any power or grounding situations that caused a problem?

Pierson: There was a full power redo for the space, so there was an electrician that came in and did extensive work on the power system. In fact, it actually required a new main feed from one of their other buildings … in order to provide enough power for the room. So all of the system is protected using some SurgeX and additionally it’s sequenced using some of the Crestron Green Light systems. [Timestamp: 8:27]

Oh well that’s great because after all the work you do on the sound system to power it up and then find that there are issues with that is a real crusher.

Pierson: Correct.

Carlson: They tried to cover all of their bases with this project. They said, “We want to do it once, we want to do it right, and we want it to last for a long time afterwards.”

And what was the video side of this project? What did they need in there for the video side?

Pierson: This was one of the more unique ones, for us at least, the first time we’ve installed a videowall. This system actually consisted of a four-by-four videowall consisting of 55in. flatpanel TVs. One of the most unique parts about having a videowall is how it serves as a backdrop for a lot of the different events; a very unique use of it. One of the advantages is instead of using a projector, in which case the presenters would always be in front of it creating a shadow on the screen, by using a videowall there aren’t any shadows. And we’re still able to get the image large enough and crisp enough by using both the Crestron processors in order to create the videowall, but the image itself, I think one of the most notable performance values of it, is just how it is supplemental to the lighting and as a most unique backdrop. So if you have a band, for example, playing, then you can have a very dynamic background. It also works very well for some of their forums. So for example, when they have a hypnotist come in and do an event or a magician come in. So it’s really quite a unique thing to have a videowall versus a projection system in that space. Additionally it gave it another wow factor or an additional wow factor. [Timestamp: 10:09]

Yeah, I would think so. For the music acts you might want to have some continuous motion video going on in the videowall and for the lectures and discussion formats maybe something that looks more like a static backdrop.

Carlson: They’ve done some really fun things with lighting and color using both the actual stage lights and the videowall together so that it almost works seamlessly together. It’s really fun how creative they’ve been able to be with that.

Alright, well it sounds like you turned it into a real fun place.

Pierson: Absolutely. The video system as well as the automated audio system and the screens and basic lighting is all controlled, then, by Crestron.

And from some central location?

Pierson: Well, actually, there’s a location up in the booth. There’s some basic lighting control around the auditorium and additionally there’s a 6in. wireless touchpanel that works with their podium. [Timestamp: 11:01]

Okay, so they can do it from anywhere.

Pierson: Correct. It also was nice to have the flexibility of the wireless touch panel so that if you’re moving the front-of-house position from either the booth down to the floor location, that you could still control the lights and the curtains and the videowall. [Timestamp: 11:17]

Well, that sounds like a really interesting job and a long enough time period where you didn’t have to rush through it. So you got this one done. What’s coming up for Audio Architects? Have you got something interesting in the pipeline?

Carlson: Well we’re in the middle of a project at one of the other university campuses right now, to design an arena system for them. We have a number of school projects, K through 12, right now. This is a big time for them, so a number of projects happening there. Some fun church projects happening in the fall. Once the schools are taken care of, we have some fun church ones coming up.

Coming up with essentially two different sound systems and the videowall. Thanks for telling us about it. Andy Pierson and Nancy Carlson from Audio Architects in Chippewa Falls, Wis., and the Schofield Hall renovation with sound and video. Great to have you with us.

Thank you for having us.

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