07.03.11

A revolution in sound

AUTHOR: Inavate

Groz-Beckert, a German textile company, has created a multi-purpose auditorium in its new R&D wing in Stuttgart. The theatre, designed for concerts and corporate events, also hides a surround sound system that, when needed, revolves from the venue’s walls.

Groz-Beckert is a German textile company with a history that dates back to 1852. This year the company opened an R&D wing at its Stuttgart headquarters that housed a presentation theatre designed for internal and external use.

The theatre was designed as a flexible space and can be used for concerts, speeches, conferences and film viewing. It houses a full cinema installation that includes, according to the integrator, the first cinema surround sound system using digitally steerable arrays.

Operators can set up the room for common uses via pre-set functions on the Crestron control system. Three main functions on the control panel handle presentation mode, cinema mode and concert mode. The main touch screen is a 24” ELO 2420L and key functions are replicated on Crestron handheld remote controls.

Presentation mode anticipates a person speaking at the front of the auditorium using Shure or beyerdynamic microphones. The beyerdynamic wireless microphones are used for general speaking requirements from the stage and a handheld transmitter allows the microphone to be passed out to the audience for wider participation. Two installed Sennheiser MZH-3062 microphones with M-34 capsules are used for a lectern on the stage. Tables are sometimes placed on the stage for panel discussion purposes and Shure Beta 58A microphones are used plugged into installation boxes on the floor. There are eight floor panels and each of the eight plugs in four microphones.

Translation requirements are handled with two interpreter booths by the control room. A beyerdynamic interpretation system allows listeners to hear translation throughout the auditorium via wireless receivers.

The concert pre-set doesn’t anticipate the use of microphones on the stage and the cinema function prompts the loudspeakers for the surround sound to rotate from their positions hidden within the venue’s wooden panelled walls.

Each wall panel has its own motor and is controlled via the main system. The Crestron system allows users to rotate the panels to create suitable acoustic environments, reducing and increasing reverberation. So the panels have a dual purpose. When the side speakers are deployed their protrusion from the wall breaks up early reflections, making the acoustic slightly “drier” for the presentation or cinema usage.

Tina Hienerwadel, audio and video engineer at mevis.tv – the integrator that handled the project, describes the control room as the “technical heart of the auditorium”. Here operators can control routing of audio and video signals via the Crestron system. Additional audio routing its handled by Biamp’s Da Vinci software interface which accesses the Audiaflex DSP system. All loudspeakers in the venue are manufactured by Renkus Heinz. Two main speakers handle the left and right signals, there is one centre speaker and a further six speakers for the surround sound system.

A pair of Renkus-Heinz IC Live ICL-FR-Dual full range digitally steerable line arrays form the main left and right stereo pair, with a single ICL-FR as the centre channel loudspeaker. Located here, too, are a pair of PN212 dual 12” subwoofers. All units are self-powered, with the IC Live arrays also featuring integral DSP for system control over CobraNet. The left, right and rear surround loudspeakers comprise six Renkus-Heinz TRX81/12 full range cabinets. The surround sound system is powered by a Bittner 4X 700 amp. A self-powered Yamaha MSP5 studio-monitor is used in the control room.

Hienerwadel and Sebastian Oeyanhausen, product support from distributor Atlantic Audio, prepared the speaker system. “We have [set up] two beams,” explains Hienerwadel. “One for the front part and the other one for the back part, so we try to stay with this constant sound quality.” The pair initially used Renkus Heinz’s BeamWare software to construct the beams and then implemented them into the system. “Apart from some equalising it worked pretty good for the installation,” adds Hienerwadel.

“The installation is the first contact for Mevis.tv with Renkus-Heinz Iconyx series loudspeakers,” said Oeynhausen. “[During the planning stage] I visited Mevis.tv and [gave] them some training [on] how they can use Iconyx.”

Volume control is independent of the presets in the Crestron system. This gives users the freedom to handle higher or lower volume levels without permanently changing the preset. Hienerwadel explains this is important when playing Blu-ray content from the Sony BDP-S550 player. “This is just because you have so many different DVDs and Blu-rays and everyone of them has the centre channel sometimes a bit louder or [sometimes a bit quieter].”

Three Panasonic PT-D7700-K projectors are provided for presentation requirements. The projectors are not edge blended but are used to show different content. Kurt-Peter Zirn, managing director of mevis.tv, says: “For example, they may want to use two technical projections and a live camera picture from the speaker, and for this situation they don’t need any blending so it’s just hard cut.”

The cinema function utilises a fourth Panasonic projector. The 12,000 ANSI lumen model is used solely for film screenings, watched either by employees or public. All inputs are controlled with the Crestron Digital Media system and all projectors fire onto a painted wall.

Zirn explains that the installation is based around a fibre optic network. The various inputs are compatible with analogue VGA signals, HDMI and digital signals. All options can be selected from the main Crestron control screen, allowing an operator to choose between what Zirn describes as “traditional technology and state-of-the-art” technology. The fibre network is designed to future proof the installation. “In the future [the client] needs only exchange the in or output cards and leave the cabling as it is,” adds Zirn.

“At the heart of the video technology is […] a Digital Media system from Crestron [which includes a] 16 x 16 matrix switcher capable of handling all the signals needed on the output side,” continues Zirn. This includes the four projectors and distribution to other small conference rooms within the building. There are also six input areas recessed in the floors throughout the auditorium and additional rooms.

Other aspects of the installation include a JVC colour camera, with a Fujinon lens, was specified to record events in the auditorium and images are recorded to a Netgear multimedia PC. Audio is recorded on a Tascam CD and SD card digital audio recorder. Recording facilities are largely used for rehearsal and training purposes. There is no requirement for broadcast or professional recording.

In addition to the main auditorium a ‘media studio’ was set-up to accommodate overspill from the auditorium. A Sony projector shows proceedings from the main auditorium and a Sony EVI-HD7V video camera captures the presenter for close-up shots to be sent to the additional room.

After two successful tests, where all aspects of the installation were tried internally, the facility was opened in November. So far it has largely been used for internal events but the plan is for the auditorium to be available for the city and used for attractions open to the public such as concerts.

Tech-Spec
Audio

Beyerdynamic gooseneck, lavalier and tabletop microphones
Beyerdynamic wireless microphone and interpretation system
Biamp AudiaFlex platform,
Bittner 4X 700 amplifier
Denon surround preamplifier
Klotz cable
Renkus-Heinz Iconyx loudspeaker arrays, TRX81 loudspeakers and subwoofer
Sennheizer MZH-3062 microphones, M-34 capsules
Shure handheld microphone
Yamaha studio monitor

Video
Audipack projector silencers
ELO touchscreen
Extron matrix switcher
Crestron control system, interfaces and video matrix
JVC CCTV colour camera
Netgear 24 port RJ45 Gigabit switch and multimedia PC
Panasonic 3-chip DLP projectors
Sharp 65” LCD
Sony 3-chip TFT projectors, video camera
Tascam CD recorder