NEW YORK, NEW YORK: St. John’s University in New York City is one of the world’s leading Catholic institutions of higher education and serves over 20,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Welcoming prospective students and introducing them to all that St. John’s has to offer is a tremendous undertaking. To put its best foot forward, the university recently updated its welcome center. Included in that update is new A/V presentation technology underpinned by a standalone Symetrix SymNet Solus 16 open-architecture DSP. Shadowbox Design Management of Hicksville, New York designed and installed the new system.
“The school wanted to invest in newer presentation technology to create a good impression for prospective students and for new students,” said Joseph Ondrek, vice president of Shadowbox Design Management. “Moreover, they wanted to make the presenters’ jobs easier.” Inputs to the system include a Denon Blu-ray/DVD player with RS-232 control, a satellite TV feed, a permanent lectern computer, an auxiliary laptop computer jack, two Sennheiser wireless microphones, and a permanent podium microphone. Two Sharp 80-inch LED monitors with independent output via a Kramer 4×4 HDMI matrix switcher complete the video portion of the system.
The audio inputs feed a Symetrix SymNet Solus 16 standalone open-architecture DSP, which features sixteen inputs, eight outputs, and flexible third-party control options. Shadowbox programmed the Solus 16 to use a gain-sharing auto-mixer for the three microphones, which provides a well-balanced output volume regardless of differences in voice volume or mic technique, as well as robust feedback protection. “The Solus 16 has plenty of inputs for this system, which includes a number of stereo input sources,” said Ondrek. “There’s still room for future expansion if the school chooses to add additional devices. Its open architecture software allowed us to tailor the functionality, and its comprehensive RS-232 controls allowed for easy integration with a third-party controller from RTI. Of course, Symetrix always delivers dependable processors, and that was an important consideration too.”
An RTI RK3V 3.5-inch color touchscreen controller permanently mounted to the presenter’s lectern allows independent source selection for video and audio, as well as individual volume and overall volume control. Users can also use an Apple iPad to wirelessly control the system from anywhere in the room. An RTI XP-6 central control processor is the cornerstone of the user control system. “The ability for the Solus 16 to respond to RS-232 commands was perfect for this installation,” said Ondrek. “Our experienced RTI programmer set up the system to create a user interface that allowed the university staff to get the most functionality in the quickest and simplest way. Any questions we had were addressed quickly by Ryan Curtright and the other Symetrix techs that we spoke with.”
A four-channel QSC CX-204V 70-volt amplifier powers twelve QSC AD-C152ST-WH shallow-mount, full-range ceiling speakers and four QSC AD-C81Tw flush-mount ceiling subwoofers. Both the full-range loudspeakers and the subwoofers are divided into true stereo to retain the full life and vitality of media-supplied audio. “This is a fairly large number of speakers in a relatively small space, and it allows the volume to be kept at a lower level by distributing the sound throughout the listening area,” said Ondrek. “As a result, adjacent office and meeting spaces remain quieter than they would if we had used fewer speakers with greater individual volume.” The Solus 16 DSP routes all microphones through the full-range loudspeakers only, whereas program audio is also routed through the subwoofers.
In addition to the main output, the SymNet Solus 16 also generates a separate audio mix as an auxiliary feed. That feed can be used to record a presentation or for overflow into an adjoining room. Although the microphone mute toggles and program audio source selection made via the in-room controllers are duplicated in the auxiliary audio mix, their levels may be independently controlled if so desired.
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