UEA updates lectures with QSC

AUTHOR: Inavate

The University of East Anglia in Norwich is capturing, streaming and archiving lectures from its Thomas Paine Lecture Theatre. The £250,000 technology was constructed by Snelling Business Systems and uses QSC Audio equipment.

Handling the audio processing of a switchable multi-mode system are two BASIS 922az DSP devices, linked by Cobranet, which contain the gain structure, provide fire alarm control — and feature a 16 x 16 Input/Output channel matrix which is worked to capacity.

The lecture theatre’s sound field has been designed in a 7.1 QSC surround sound configuration and is Dolby THX compliant. It has been constructed from six AcousticDesign AD-S282H loudspeakers mounted down the sides of the auditorium, a further two behind the grilles on either side of the giant media screen, and a pair of smaller AD-S82H’s forming the rear surrounds. In addition, two QSC HPR-151i active subs are installed under the seating below trapdoors to provide low-end extension.

Toby Wise, MD of Snelling Business Systems, said: “We had looked at a number of solutions, and with our senior engineer, Colin Jacobs, came to the conclusion that since the University wanted to promote film studies but also have the ability to switch effortlessly to a Lecture Theatre mode, then the most flexible solution would be offered by QSC.

“We have used QSC components many times in the past and the university is impressed with the clever yoke-mounting system and the robustness and quality of the products — plus all the mechanical engineering data is always supplied.”

The funding for the building was approved in late 2007 and Snelling were initially appointed as independent AV consultants, developing the specification with Chris Browne, the UEA’s head of AV and Print Services. The company then bid successfully for the integration, meeting a tender document produced by main contractors Keir Eastern, which included a high definition Blu-ray capability, a 7.1 cinema surround system and interactivity, via the option of both a simple and a highly technical AMX user interface.

“This project provided a welcome opportunity to create a new building containing centrally bookable teaching spaces on the campus,” said Mr. Browne. “At the same time we were able to exploit the best of current trusted technologies, considering the anticipated impact of HD technology and the benefits that this could bring. The convergence of AV and IT will bring about a significant move towards the networked delivery of teaching resources.”

The system itself was designed by Colin Jacobs. “At the outset there was a requirement only for a conventional fit out, but when the University said they wanted HD Blu-ray and 7.1 surround sound — as well as all the usual provisions — the additional channel count presented a challenge. With complex cross point switching and matrixing the only DSP we could find that would expand easily was BASIS.”

In addition to the eight-channel inputs for the ADA Suite 7.1 HD surround sound preamp/decoder further inputs were required for the left/right programme feed from a Kramer VP7277A-BA audio switcher, and microphone feeds from Six Shure SLX wireless channels and two wired gooseneck mics, which are processed in a Shure SCM810 automixer.

Snelling have intelligently made the set-up switchable between Presentation and Surround Sound scenarios, with the option of a simple plug-and-play User mode (for presenters at the lectern) to the Technician mode, when the sound feeds back to the Soundcraft mixer in the control booth.

Equally, BASIS is programmed so that the entire surround sound is only activated when playing material from Blu-ray or DVD; the switching between the operating modes is very smooth with minimal lag, notes Snelling.

The BASIS outputs comprise three QSC CX404 4-channel amplifiers, each providing individual channel feeds to the speakers. There are also feeds to a Sonic Foundry Mediasite (which captures the lectures and handles the web streaming), the QSC HP-151i subwoofers, local relay feeds to an overflow seminar room and a plasma display at the front of the building. Finally BASIS provides a feed to an Ampetronic induction loop system.

Operating in Technician mode the mic and programme feeds are routed through to the control booth mixer. “The BASIS DSP’s enabled us to implement this complex switching ‘on the fly’— it has given us complete control,” said Jacobs, “We have made good use of the EQ’s in BASIS — for instance we roll off the LF response to the AD-S282H’s and use the HPR-151i’s to provide the bottom end. On top of that, it’s a doddle to programme and the way it generates the XML control strings makes AMX programming much easier.”

Norwich Business School’s new Executive Teaching Centre will occupy the third floor and incorporate a 90-seater seminar room, a large oval break-out space, an IT and library resources space and a boardroom. Furthermore it incorporates eight NBS academics’ offices and already multiples of QSC’s AD-S52 speakers have been installed in the classrooms on the top floor.

A second phase of building is already underway and other NBS colleagues and school offices will locate there on completion in June 2010.