AUSTIN, TEXAS – JUNE 2012: Trinity Episcopal School of Austin has already grown from a startup private school to a K-8 institution of 450 students. Its exponential increase has spurred a succession of construction projects, the latest of which is a 750-seat multipurpose chapel for religious services, student performances, and community events. Trinity Episcopal School of Austin hired central-Texas-based Ace Audio Communications, Inc. to design and install a state-of-the-art audio/visual system for the new chapel. Ace Audio centered its sound reinforcement on an Allen & Heath iLive console paired with Symetrix SymNet Edge DSP. The two units are networked together using the next-generation Dante network protocol, which supports a huge channel count of lossless audio with imperceptible latency.
To maximize the new chapel’s flexibility without compromising its functionality, the school opted to build two stages, one along the width of the room and one along its length. The first “portrait orientation” will be used for performances, whereas the second “landscape orientation” will be used for services. Entirely different speaker systems support each orientation. In portrait orientation, a center-mounted cluster of four ElectroVoice EVF1122 full-range loudspeakers and two ElectroVoice EVF2151D subwoofers hung in a gradient array, cover the seating with a longer throw. In landscape orientation, three ElectroVoice EVF1152 full-range loudspeakers effectively cover the broad swath of seats from three separated positions distributed along the wall. A rack of eight QSC CX-Series amplifiers provide power.
Except for the audio from video sources, all other audio makes its way into the system via the Allen & Heath iLive mixing system, which is outfitted with a Dante card. Via Dante, the SymNet Edge receives the mix output from the iLive as well as several of the unmixed, pre-fader inputs for use in simple auto-mixing applications. The I/O count of the SymNet Edge is modular, and Trinity’s contains one four-channel analog input card and three four-channel analog output cards. The SymNet Edge takes its analog inputs from the video system (which are then used within Edge and sent to the iLive via the Dante bus) and sends its analog outputs to the amplifiers. It performs all of the routing necessary to flip between the two orientations, as well as processing for feedback suppression, auto-mixing, room tuning, loudspeaker conditioning, and other miscellaneous necessities.
“Dante is tremendously fast,” said Doug Windle, audio/video manager at Ace Audio. “Had we done the system with CobraNet, we’d have latency in the neighborhood of 3 to 5ms. With Dante, we’re down to 0.25ms, which is virtually unnoticeable. In addition, we have a lot of flexibility – once a signal is into a Dante-equipped piece, it can be routed anywhere without penalty.” Indeed, Dante supports 64 channels of uncompressed audio in either direction. “The ability to move signal around without having to convert to analog makes for a much cleaner design and overall higher fidelity,” said Ray Timpe, project manager at Ace Audio.
Timpe and Windle also designed and installed a comprehensive video system for Trinity Episcopal School of Austin. In portrait orientation, a center 119-inch by 212-inch screen is flanked by 58-inch by 104-inch screens on either side. In landscape orientation, blackout shades, on a window with video screen backing, serve as a screen. Christie L2K1000 projectors illuminate the central screens in either orientation, and Christie L2K555 projectors illuminate the flanking screens in portrait orientation. Most of the chapel’s video sources are already HDMI, and those that start as VGA are up-scaled by an Extron DXP 88 HDMI 8×8 matrix switcher.
“The school wanted to use an Apple iPad2 to control the system,” explained Timpe. “And while we were happy to supply that as the principle user interface, we also knew that including some redundant control would be prudent.” An AMX NI3100 control processor paired with an AMX NXV300 touch-panel adapter imbue the iPad2 with customized controls. In addition, Timpe set up a Symetrix ARC-WEB interface for use on networked computers and a customized ARC control interface on the front of the SymNet Edge frame. “I didn’t anticipate how useful the Edge’s front panel interface would be,” said Timpe. “But it works perfectly, and I was able to customize it to control the main system functions, such as orientation and whether to auto-mix select inputs versus taking the mix from the iLive.”
According to Windle, programming the complicated system in the new SymNet Composer software platform was intuitive and fast. “I was already familiar with the previous generation software, SymNet Designer,” he said. “This was a seamless transition. I learned the Dante flow control and then wrote and deployed the fully-functioning system in a matter of hours.”
ABOUT SYMETRIX Symetrix engineers high-end professional audio solutions, specializing in DSP hardware and software. Symetrix products are distributed worldwide, and designed and manufactured in the U.S. at the Seattle area headquarters. Since 1976, Symetrix customers have enjoyed the benefits of Symetrix’ independent ownership and management.
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