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The Buzz: Install of the Month

Mar 1, 2005 2:51 PM

UMass Boston


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For college students, MP3 is no longer just a format for trading music of questionable legal status. On the Boston campus of the University of Massachusetts, biology professor Brian White contemplated how he could record his lectures, and then give his students access to listen to them at their convenience. White delivers his lectures at the Lipke Auditorium, which seats approximately 500 students—the largest auditorium on campus.

UMass Distance Learning technical coordinator Jeff Wade and AV technician Chris Pahud in front of the Marantz Professional PMD570.

White approached Jeffrey Wade, the technical coordinator of the Distance Learning Video Production department at UMass-Boston, in hopes of finding a solution. Wade, with a background in broadcasting and audio and video equipment, has been working at the university for more than three years.

“At first I thought I could provide the students these recorded lectures by using an audio cassette recorder/player and then converting it to MP3 through an extremely time-consuming process,” says Wade. “I also realized that this method would result in poor audio quality.” He knew there had to be a better solution. The Media Services department supports the university by giving professors access to computers, projectors, DVD players, camcorders, and digital cameras. Faculty can either borrow the equipment or use one of the 16 Technology Enhanced Classrooms (TECs) provided by the department. Media Services also supplies support for non-classroom special events. For that reason, it is crucial that department personnel stay apprised of all the latest technology and provide equipment that is efficient and reliable.

In June 2004, Wade attended InfoComm in Atlanta. He was immediately sold on Marantz Professional’s PMD570, a professional-installation, solid-state recorder. “I was ecstatic to hear that the Marantz PMD570 recorded and converted directly to MP3,” says Wade. “Everything was recorded in realtime so there were no delays. I just knew the Marantz PMD570 was the solution I needed for a quicker recording process.”

Wade realized that he was not only going to save time, but he would also be able to record more than 50 hours on one inexpensive Compact Flash card, depending on the audio settings. He could record an entire eight-hour day’s worth of lectures without changing media.

Biology professor Brian White delivers a lecture in UMass’ Lipke Auditorium. White’s lessons are recorded using a Marantz PMD570.

Professor White records his lectures to the Marantz unit in stereo mode, at 128kbps and 44.1kHz, using a 512MB SanDisc Compact Flash card. This configuration makes room for 4 hours and 25 minutes of recording time. For other applications Wade could choose different audio settings to deliver appropriate recording times and sound quality. Assignable quality selections allow for bit rates ranging from 32kbps to 384kbps and sample rate selections from 16kHz to 48kHz.

“When I got the Marantz PMD570 to the university, I was astonished at how easy it was to set up. The owner’s manual was clear and easy to follow. Within five minutes I had the recorder up and running,” says Wade, who describes Marantz’s tech support as thorough and friendly. Wade integrated the Marantz unit into the Lipke Auditorium sound system, which features a Shure U124S wireless mic combo (handheld and lavalier), a Shure SCM262 two-channel and SCM268 four-channel microphone mixers, a Rane GE 215 stereo equalizer, a Crown CT-410 power amplifier, and two EAW JF80 speakers.

Wade was delighted to discover that the Marantz PMD570 had security for the media door and no moving parts. Its low-profile, single-space rack saves crucial space in the Media Services department. Through its RS-232c controller, Wade could set up and control multiple PMD570s from one PC. The university currently has one unit and no plans to network several PMD570 recorders together, but is planning to install them in all of its new AV systems for the Campus Center.

The students of UMass Boston have Wade and the Media Services department to thank for enriching their studies. Because of the implementation of the Marantz PMD570, students with classes in Lipke Auditorium are now able to visit a convenient website to quickly access recorded lectures in high-quality MP3 format.


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