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EASE Modeling for a Multipurpose Venue, Part 2

Feb 28, 2012 10:49 AM, With Bennett Liles

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And where is the sound booth in there located?

It’s at the rear of the balcony at the top and behind glass, not ideal. [Timestamp: 4:09]

Yeah, that would probably be a good thing for recording. In some cases that might work better than others, but because this place has so many different uses I guess you could go from a one to a 10 as far as the degree of difficulty in being able to monitor things in there.

Absolutely, and I don’t know the entire history of this room. I would imagine it was built in the 20s and that would have originally been a projection type booth and now it’s used more for storage than anything. [Timestamp: 4:32]

So, how do they operate this? Do they have a particular person on staff who is the audio specialist there or is it completely automated? How do they do that?

Well, now there is no automation in this system. It’s all fully manual. Elon has technical staff, full-time people that take care of events on campus and there are several—I’m not sure how many are in the department but four or five people—there that are available to run sound and organize events. And occasionally they’ll hire us as an outside company to come in when they get busy and have more than they can do at once. We go in and send a sound and tech over to run the show for them. [Timestamp: 5:05]

OK, well, I’m sure they were very interested in this installation and seeing what you were doing in there.

Oh yes, yeah, they worked very closely with us and they were in on every decision. [Timestamp: 5:14]

Once you’ve decided what you had to do in there were there any concerns expressed on behalf of the staff there about altering the appearance of the room or the audio levels or anything like that?

Absolutely, aesthetically the room is beautiful and is very well cared for and it’s a source of pride for Elon and they really were concerned about putting a large speaker array up. One is there’s a seal on the upstage proscenia wall behind the stage and they certainly didn’t want the seal covered by anything and there was a lot of concern about how it would look on an elevation. I drew in where the cluster would fit to scale so everybody could get an idea of how it would work and it just so happened that the ideal height of the cluster allowed the seal to be visible below it from anywhere in the room while seated. So that worked out nice. [Timestamp: 6:00]

Yeah, you have to kind of get your mind wrapped around what their priorities are before you get started moving things and running cable and poking holes in places.

Right, and of course they were very concerned with the holes we were going to have to drill in the ceiling because it is an old plaster ceiling and that’s a little scary for us too because you make one little mistake and you have a huge chunk missing. [Timestamp: 6:20]

And from the looks of it on their website, they have so many different pages on there that mention Whitley Auditorium. It’s been here a long time, something like since 1924 I think.

Is that right? Yeah somewhere in the 20’s.

Yeah, and they use it for so many different things, that place is a big part of the university so I can see why there would be some initial concerns when people come in and put up scaffolding and start hanging things from the ceiling. They would definitely want to stay on top of what you’re doing.


So when you got it all in there and fired up and you did the first test, how did it go and when you used it in the first real event?

Surprisingly well. The first day we set it up, of course, we had our data from EASE and we used Smart to check the room and equalize the system and we spent about half the day testing and getting levels right from upstairs to downstairs. Since we had three zones in the cluster we were able to do some shading with how much volume we were sending upstairs as opposed to downstairs and we were able to get the sound pressure level very even upstairs and down, sounds very similar throughout the building—very happy with that. Immediately people from the music department came in that were interested in the project. People from the radio television school came in to see what was going on and everybody was very impressed very quickly with how intelligible it was. They could hear speech everywhere in the room. Previously they really had to struggle to hear. It’s interesting because without amplification, you really have a hard time understanding a person maybe 20ft. away, but we were able to close that distance a lot and everywhere in the room is highly intelligible. So from that standpoint, the testing, it was pretty obvious right away that we had gotten it right. And the first event was a home run. The first event I was involved in; actually I was there for a acappella group that was using it. Previously the acappella group had hired a sound system to come in so that they could have better sound and we assured them that they wouldn’t need to hire a system for this event; they could depend on the installed system and although they were a little skeptical at first, during their sound check they were convinced that it was one of the best sounding shows they’d ever had. So it worked out very, very well. [Timestamp: 8:23]

Well that’s good to hear, so what’s up next for Audio & Light? What kind of projects have you got in the works that you can tell us about?

Well, we have a lot in the works and we’re real excited for the new year; we’re starting it off well. We have a very large corporate project we’re working on. They’re redoing their corporate campus and so I think about six or eight conference rooms and a boardroom and a conference room meeting room. We’re installing a Planar video wall there so that’s an exciting for us. We have a lot more work at Elon University. It looks as if they will be installing a small videowall location and they have a couple more schools that they are getting ready to come on line and open. We have a large hospital project in the works, so we’re quite busy right now. [Timestamp: 9:08]

OK, Jim Hoyle with Audio & Light in Greensboro, N.C., and Elon University’s Whitley Auditorium sound system upgrade. Thanks for taking time on the SVC Podcast to give us the lowdown on the project, Jim.

Well, thank you. I appreciate it.

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