Lancaster, PA (November 18, 2005)–Lancaster Christian School in Lancaster, PA recently built itself a new Student Life Center, and along with a new facility came the need for an audio distribution network. Design firm Environmental Acoustics, Inc. (EAI) and Performance Audio Video Lighting & Stage Systems, Inc. (PAVL) chose Digigram’s EtherSound audio bridges as the cornerstone of the audio distribution system. EtherSound networks distribute up to 64 channels of 24-bit digital audio at 48 kHz, plus control information, over a single Ethernet cable with only 125 microseconds latency.
The challenges of implementing sophisticated technologies into multi-purpose spaces are well documented, but this project pushed the envelope a bit further, requiring that operator controls be portable and that the controls be operable from four different locations: a front-of-house location, a scorekeeper’s table, a stage location, and an off-court ancillary location. Furthermore, the infrastructure needed to be able to address the multiple system requirements from the start while adhering to the restrictions of the school’s current budget, yet still offer sufficient flexibility to expand and update the system in the future when additional budget might become available.
EAI’s senior acoustician and performance systems designer Dave Still built a network infrastructure based on low-cost standard CAT5 and Ethernet switches, and added Digigram ES8in devices, which convert up to eight analog audio signals into as many EtherSound channels, to the portable control racks. Using regular Ethernet plugs in the wall, the ES8ins connects to the network at all four control locations. ES8out devices throughout the building represent the other end of the audio network and re-convert the digital data back to analog audio signals. Every input can be routed to one or multiple outputs. As a result, traditional multi-cable copper paths were almost entirely eliminated.
Still noted, “While conventional technology, wisdom, and costs limit transformer-isolated splitters to a 3-way redistribution of audio signals, the EtherSound digital audio network suffers from no such restraint. By carefully considering the flow of audio through the network, multiple points of access were achieved with only a few CAT5e cable runs. Multiple networks, each requiring only one additional CAT5e cable, may be added to expand the overall system size or flexibility.”