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Audio-Technica Provides Family Child Learning Center at Akron Children’s Hospital with Audio System Upgrade

— ATND931WH condenser mic with Dante™ network output delivers significantly improved audio in learning center for young children with disabilities —

— ATND931WH condenser mic with Dante™ network output delivers significantly improved audio in learning center for young children with disabilities —

STOW, OH — The Akron Children’s Hospital Family Child Learning Center (FCLC) is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life of young children with developmental disabilities and their families. The Tallmadge, Ohio facility provides a wide range of family-centered developmental services. A key component of the FCLC is its observation rooms, where parents, staff and university students can observe intervention taking place. Three observation rooms look into seven playrooms, and each observation room has one-way glass and microphones that enable people on the outside to listen in. However, the FCLC had tried over the years to use security-based microphones and lower-quality headphones, which did not provide good fidelity, and management wanted a system that was more flexible and provided better audio quality. Audio-Technica, a leading innovator in transducer technology for over 50 years, worked in conjunction with Fort Wayne, Indiana networked audio solutions provider Attero Tech and donated the equipment, installation and programming services to upgrade the audio in the observation rooms.

“After evaluating the needs of the Family Child Learning Center, we determined that the Dante™-enabled ATND931WH ceiling mic would provide the best combination of pickup pattern, networking capability and discreet appearance,” said Gary Dixon, Audio-Technica Sales Engineer – Installed Sound. “The ATND931WH also interfaces seamlessly with the Attero Tech unDNEMO Dante Network Monitor headphone amplifier we used for this installation.” Designed for educational, commercial, house of worship and other installed-sound applications, the Audio-Technica ATND931WH hypercardioid condenser gooseneck mic provides a uniform polar pattern with a 100-degree acceptance angle and features UniGuard® technology that rejects RFI interference. The mic attaches to the provided ATND8734 Dante-enabled wall/ceiling plate power module, which is equipped with an 80 Hz low-cut UniSteep® filter, three-position input gain level selector and RJ45 output jack/network connector. The power module mounts into a standard 2-gang electrical box.

In the FCLC system 12 ATND931WH mics are positioned into zones that allow observers to choose a zone and listen through one of 20 sets of Audio-Technica ATH-M20x Professional Monitor Headphones. The zones are selected by one of 11 Attero Tech unDNEMO audio monitors that drive the ATH-M20x headphones. The unDNEMOs are powered by a PoE connection and include a built-in speaker and mic. 11 unDNEMO units are connected to three RDL FP-PA18 wall-mounted amplifiers that power three in-ceiling speakers, allowing small groups of people to assemble in the observation rooms and listen without headphones if desired. A Pakedge SX-24P 24-port fully managed gigabit switch is the network hub of the system allowing the Attero Tech unDNEMO to choose the respective audio stream, based on what zone the user chooses through the local unDNEMO.

“There’s no need for a traditional central audio matrix switcher – it’s all routed and assigned using digital audio and control signals. The network is the matrix switcher,” said Mike Sims, Director of Marketing & Sales for Attero Tech. Because the Audio-Technica ATND931WH has a built-in preamp and gain control, the audio from the mics can be sent over the network and allows each unDNEMO to display a description of the mic channel, making it easy for parents, staff and students to choose any area to listen to while observing through the one-way glass. To further simplify operation, the unDNEMO units are configured to display only those mics that can be seen through the glass. Sims noted, “The unDNEMO modules have very simple controls and an LED display. They’re extremely intuitive to use, almost self-explanatory.”

“The sound is vastly improved from the previous system,” remarked Marilyn Espe-Sherwindt, PhD, Director, Family Child Learning Center. “The reaction from the parents, staff and our university students has been overwhelmingly positive – the observation rooms have gone from being hard to hear what was going on to enabling everyone to hear everything with clarity and perfect understanding. In fact, with the new system in place our staff can simply do their jobs a lot better. Our mission of supporting families, doing research and training future professionals has been unbelievably enhanced.”

Each year the Family Child Learning Center provides services to an average of 150 children and their families; supervision and training for 20 – 25 graduate and undergraduate students; and presentations and workshops for more than 4,000 parents and professionals across Ohio, nationally and internationally.

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Photo caption 1: Audio-Technica ATH-M20x Professional Monitor Headphones, employed at the Akron Children’s Hospital Family Child Learning Center.