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Installation Profile: Mission: Invisible

Apr 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Jack Kontney

SGA headquarters installs unobtrusive conferencing technology.

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Middle Atlantic equipment racks

Two 44-space Middle Atlantic equipment racks house the bulk of the gear in SGA’s Executive Boardroom—including Revolabs wireless receivers, an AMX NetLinx controller, Tandberg and ClearOne conferencing systems, an Altinex matrix switcher, a QSC CX204V power amp for the Tannoy sound-reinforcement loudspeakers, and ancillary equipment.

A Revolabs Solo Executive wireless-microphone system provides 16 channels of audio. A sleek, compact wireless boundary microphone is placed between every other seating position, ensuring full pickup of every attendee. “When SGA told us there could be no wired mics on the table, I immediately thought of Revolabs,” Steineke says.

Four channels of Shure ULX-P wireless are available to accommodate mobile presenters. “I've always been a big fan of Shure wireless,” Steineke says. “They sound great, they're very reliable, and they have the frequency agility you need.”

Sound reinforcement is similarly low-key and effective, with a dozen Tannoy CMS801 full-range, 70V loudspeakers secreted in the ceiling outside the central soffit, directly above the chairs. To maintain the room's clean look, the loudspeakers are flush mounted, with acoustic fabric panels that blend in with the ceiling.


Of course, making it all work requires some infrastructure. For command and control of all systems, an AMX system was specified, with an NI-4100 NetLinx integrated controller. Programmed by Rod Andrewson of CCS, the AMX system handles all aspects of the boardroom environment — including audio, video, conferencing, computers, lighting, and shades.

The primary room-control interface is an AMX Modero NXT-1500 VG, a 15in. touchpanel, augmented by a pair of 8.4in. Modero MVP-8400 units for auxiliary control. All touchpanels use wireless links to communicate with the NI-4100 controller, which is located out of sight in the equipment room. “The touchpanel is extremely easy to use,” Andrewson says. “It's tailored to a format we've used in a lot of boardrooms, so we know it will be very intuitive.”

Revolabs boundary mics and Altinex TNP500 Tilt ‘N Plug custom pop-up laptop

Revolabs boundary mics and Altinex TNP500 Tilt ‘N Plug custom pop-up laptop interfaces make for a sleek conferencing space.

With SGA's company culture that embraces communication and collaboration, the War Room's conferencing facilities are the key to success. The system design accommodates multiple modes of operation: local video, local audio, audio-conferencing, and videoconferencing.

On the audio side, all inputs are routed among four ClearOne XAP 800 audio-conferencing mixers. “If it's an audio-only conference, it all runs through the ClearOne system,” Steineke says. “The XAP 800 is a robust system, with powerful DSP. Echo cancellation, automatic gain control, gating, you name it. The ClearOne gives you a broad range of possibilities, which is great for situations where customer requirements grow or shift.”

Four XAP 800 units support 25 micro-phone inputs, plus the various line inputs from video sources. The audio output is then routed to a ClearOne TH2 telephone interface, providing digital connectivity to the system's analog phone line.

When video comes into play, things get much more exciting. “It's not just talking heads anymore,” Steineke says. “It's people and content.” So the system specification included video coverage for the conference participants, plus the ability to transmit PC-based presentations. To add a collaborative element, the Sympodium allows live annotation of presentations.

The core videoconferencing system is the Tandberg 6000 MXP, with the WAVE cameras beneath the plasmas serving as primary inputs to the system's codec. The codec includes both Tandberg's Multisite and Natural Presenter packages, allowing a choice of live-camera, PC presentation, or other video sources (DVD, cable television) to be used during a videoconference linking up to six locations. The audio output from the ClearOne system is routed to the Tandberg video system, which then marries the audio to the video for remote transmission via ISDN lines.

Another important capability of the videoconferencing system is camera selection. This is managed via audio gating of the video cameras hanging beneath the plasma screens. Five Astatic 202R boundary microphones — one cleverly hidden in the fascia beneath each plasma — trigger the system. That audio is then routed via the ClearOne XAP 800, which uses gating to track the conversation and identify the dominant presenter. This information is passed to the Tandberg codec, which activates the appropriate camera.

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