Symetrix serves at the Lincoln Presidential Museum
Just as Abraham Lincoln remains one of the most popular U.S. Presidents, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (ALPLM) is one of America’s most popular presidential libraries. More than 300,000 visitors pass through its Gateway area each year to enjoy 40,000 square feet of immersive exhibits, historical artefacts, interactive exhibits, and dramatic performances. While only a few exhibit areas rely on spoken word, audio is everywhere: mostly music, sound effects, and occasional museum-wide announcements.
After a dozen years, the museum’s analogue audio system began to show its age, and some pieces could no longer be serviced. After research and consultations with systems integrators Video Services of America in Chicago, ALPLM Systems technical director Sam Cooper opted for a Dante-enabled network managed by four Symetrix Prism 16×16 DSPs and a Symetrix Radius 12×8 EX DSP equipped with a Symetrix 4 Channel Analog Output Card.
Music and effects are supplied by TASCAM DA-6400 64-channel digital recorders with Dante I/O cards connecting the recorders directly into the Dante network. An assortment of JBL Control-series ceiling and wall-mount loudspeakers deliver the audio, powered by Crown amplifiers.
Visitors buy their tickets at the Gateway, but you won’t hear networked audio there because, observes Cooper, “that would drive the front entry personnel nuts.” On entering the Plaza, though, guests begin an audio-intensive walking tour through the world of Honest Abe. “You might see and hear Lincoln giving a speech, or hear birds, bugs, chopping wood, and music in the Plaza,” offers VSA Senior Sales Representative Greg Bayer. “The museum uses a vast array of synchronised sound effects and music, and as you move between locations, you transition to new sounds and music. There are speakers everywhere, and getting the timing and flow right requires sophisticated control, which is a strength of Symetrix DSPs.”
The exhibits are organized into two major “Journeys.” Journey 1 presents the Railsplitter’s pre-Presidential years, while Journey 2 is about his presidency. “The cool thing about the Journeys is the 27 separate areas we call Scenes,” Cooper details. “For example, Scene 1 is outside the log cabin, and Scene 2 is inside the log cabin. As you wander through, the music changes from one scene to another-but at the doorways, the music is blended so you don’t notice that it changed. The composer wrote the music to keep the same feel throughout transition areas yet immerse you into the scene.”
This complex audio network covers the museum exhibit areas and the Plaza only, although plans are to extend coverage to the gift shop. It could eventually also cover the library if desired. The two theatres, both still on the older analogue audio system, will also be added to the Symetrix network eventually.
From the Plaza, you can enter “Journey 1,” which uses 28 channels of audio, while “Journey 2” has 56 input channels where every input is used, including XLR analogue inputs. “The Plaza has its own music,” notes Cooper. “The ‘Ask Mr Lincoln’ exhibit has separate dialogue. ‘Mrs. Lincoln’s Attic’ has its own music, as does the ‘Illinois Gallery,’ which changes with each exhibit. We didn’t use much EQ, but level control was very important, and the Symetrix DSPs made a big difference there.”
In fact, says Cooper, level setting was the most challenging part of programming the system. “We’d take it down 3 dB in one room, then realise that’s too much, so we’d adjust it again,” he recalls. “But because of that change, we’d have to go to the next room and make a little change. We spent a lot of time going back and forth and adjusting. We walked the Journeys with the VSA team over and over until we got it right – and they did a great job. Once we got the levels right, we generally haven’t had to change them.”
Symetrix’ products proved to be the right solution. “We chose Symetrix DSPs because they have the capabilities we need, including Dante, while also fitting our budget,” reveals Cooper. “They’re not hard to program in general, but neither VSA nor I had done something quite like this before. In addition to level control in the Plaza, we wanted two Symetrix ARC-3 controllers, mounted inside our operator control panels that mirrored each other to control the Plaza system. We have four zones in one scene that use multiple audio streams, depending on section, and those need to be controlled independently on a dedicated mixer in the DSP. Sometimes we mute individual scenes, which adds complexity. We have interactive exhibits on the network, each with audio. We also wanted the ability to expand the system. It was a lot to program. So VSA called Symetrix on the phone, and the Symetrix people were great about explaining how to do what we wanted.”
Beyond the Plaza, with its two ARC-3 panels, each Journey-except the two theaters- has a separate Symetrix ARC-series wall panel for control. That includes a Symetrix ARC-K1e rotary encoder mounted in “Ask Mr Lincoln’s” electronic control room, and three ARC-SW4e push-button wall panels remotely controlling audio functions for the Journeys.
Sam Cooper is thrilled with his new audio tools, and with life at the ALPLM. “I have a dream job, and I have a great staff that backs me up,” he enthuses. “We worked on all of this together and made a point of including the entire staff in the install as much as we possibly could. VSA did a great job making the system work the way we wanted it to. The Symetrix network has been bulletproof. I am very, very pleased.”
This article is originally from www.pro-systems.co.za
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State-of-the-Art Courtrooms Rely on Symetrix
Even in famously beautiful Paris, with its many architectural attractions, the Tribunal de Paris is an impressive addition. The stunning new complex covers more than 400,000 square meters (4.3 million square feet) of buildings on 106.25 acres of land, and brings together the core activities of the Parisian justice system, previously scattered across some 30 sites. Its centerpiece is a 40-story tower, 160 meters (525 feet) high, designed by architects at the Renzo Piano Building Workshop and featuring a cascade of terraces and a transparent glass base.
When completed-operations prior to occupancy commenced in February 2017-the eye-catching edifice will house, among other spaces, the 90 courtrooms of the Tribunal de Grande Instance (TGI), or Court of Justice. Fifty-five courtrooms are equipped with networked AV systems co-designed by Axente, Bouygues Energies & Services, and Audiovisuel Solutions, and based on Symetrix Prism DSPs.
“This was a big project because of the number of courtrooms,” observes Axente Director of Audio Alain Hercman. “Networking 55 courtrooms required 37 Symetrix Prism 4×4 DSPs, 18 Prism 8×8 DSPs, and 130 Attero Tech unDIO2x2 interfaces. Each courtroom is handling a different case, so we did not need to send audio or video between rooms, but all 55 AV systems are connected to the network at a central technical room, from which they are managed.”
To enable an efficient and manageable AV system in a big building where courtrooms are often located far from the technical room, the design team specified a Dante network. “Dante was the best solution,” Hercman confirms. “Dante allows us to easily move and control audio across long distances using fiber and CAT6 cables. And with Symetrix Prism DSPs and Attero Tech Dante interfaces, the Dante network is flexible, reliable, and easy to use.”
Recording capabilities and security are extremely important factors in a courtroom. “We need to keep things as confidential as possible, so there are rules that are very specific to a court of justice,” Hercman notes. “For example, the court has to be able to record to video and recall everything in case an advocate needs to prove that someone said something at a specific time. The video has to be secure yet easy to play back. So the installation has to meet certain standards.”
Although the 55 courtrooms are similar, they are not identical. “Some rooms can accommodate more attorneys than others, and some have secure boxes for the accused, with glass everywhere,” Hercman explains. “So we needed slightly different equipment in those spaces. But the way we use the Symetrix Prisms is basically the same in all rooms. Analog signals go to and from the unDIO2x2 boxes, which route Dante streams over CAT cable and fiber to and from the Prism DSPs.”
For Hercman, Symetrix was an obvious solution. “Symetrix is among the most famous brands in the category, and rightly so,” Hercman maintains. “They make very high quality products that are extremely reliable, which is essential in a courtroom situation. And they work great with Attero Tech unDIO2x2 interfaces, which are small and can be unobtrusively located and powered over Ethernet. That makes it easy to put a Dante connection wherever it’s needed.”
A long-time Symetrix user, Hercman appreciates its programming software. “We’ve used Symetrix DSPs in other projects, and we have found them easier to program than other DSPs,” he praises. “The Symetrix Prism has a very high quality engine. Since each courtroom system is used independently and has a different design, the programming of 55 different matrices for TGI should have been challenging and time consuming. But thanks to Symetrix Composer software with its logic-based processing modules, it proved to be fast and easy.”
Another major factor in choosing Symetrix was affordability. “With a project of this magnitude, involving big construction companies, pricing is very important because there are so many items to buy,” asserts Hercman. “Symetrix offered the right solution at an excellent price. Their products deliver the best value on the market.”
Hercman emphasizes that the TGI AV system was the result of a cooperative effort. “The integrator was Bouygues Energies & Services (BES) of Montigny le Bretonneux, and Audiovisuel Solutions (APE) of Nanterre was a subcontractor installer,” he specifies. “The studies, solutions, and designs were a collaboration between Axente, APE, and BES, which worked very well.”
The TGI project was special for the Axente/APE/BES team. Not only was it a large installation in a beautiful and soon-to-be-iconic building, but the new Court of Justice will be an important part of civic life in Paris. “It’s an important job in many ways,” agrees Hercman. “We are confident that everyone will be pleased with the AV system, and with Symetrix DSPs, the network will perform at a high level for many years.”
This article is originally from www.symetrix.co
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Symetrix DSPs the Key to Altria Theater’s Sound
Built at the southwest corner of Richmond’s Monroe Park in 1927 and originally called The Mosque, the Altria Theater received a $5 million makeover and a new name-The Landmark-in 1994-95. In 2014, the theater was renamed the Altria as part of a far more extensive $50 million renovation that included an impressive new sound system. A breathtaking architectural gem, the Altria Theater is the largest performing arts theater between Atlanta and New York, with a seating capacity of 3,565. The Altria also offers an 18,000-square-foot ballroom that holds 1,100 people and seats 600.
Designed by Jaffe Holden in collaboration with the Richmond branch of global venue managers SMG, and installed by Professional Audio Designs of Wauwatosa, WI, the Altria Theater’s new sound system is based on four Symetrix Edge DSP units, with additional outputs supplied by two Symetrix xOut Dante-enabled analog expanders. “I’ve been using Symetrix products for more than eight years,” begins SMG Systems Engineer Hayden Nebus. “I have 19 Symetrix DSPs right now. They sound phenomenal but the biggest factor for me is reliability.”
Symetrix’ toolkit and value, Nebus asserts, are second to none. “You get a first order and a second order all-pass filter, and the second-order filter has a variable Q,” he details. “I can take a Smaart measurement, pull it into my FIR coefficient calculator, and import my FIR filter straight into the Symetrix DSP. Programming with Symetrix’ Composer software is more straightforward than any other open architecture DSP. And the value can’t be beat: Symetrix Radius and Edge DSPs are great values, and the Prism provides amazing DSP horsepower per dollar.”
Four Symetrix Edge DSPs are the brains of the Altria Theater’s entire system. “They handle the whole thing,” confirms Nebus, “including input matrixing, output matrixing, EQ, delay, FIR filters, and all-pass filters, plus 12-mix stage-monitor processing, distributed lobby and backstage 70v feeds, assistive listening, paging, and chiming.”
The Edge processors control a d&b Audiotechnik sound system with a dozen full-range V-series cabinets and two flown subwoofers per side, plus a center hang of ten V-series cabinets and two subwoofers. The system includes front fills and up fills, and the balconies are handled by a mix of delay speakers, divided into three rings: one for the orchestra level, one for the first balcony area beneath the second balcony, and an over-balcony ring.
A Symetrix ARC system is provided for control. “The ARC system is beautiful,” praises Nebus. “It’s modular and expandable and you can make it do whatever you want. It gives you concise, simple, idiot-proof user controls for house managers and stage managers.”
Nebus is especially enthusiastic about a processing feature he created for the Altair Theater. “My favorite part of that Symetrix rig, other than how gorgeous it sounds, is the ‘virtual babysitter’ I built into the processing. On all main PA outputs, I have threshold detectors and counters. Every time the output reaches -0.5 dBFS, the counter ticks. There’s a control screen with all the PA output meters, and each has a counter box above it that displays the corresponding threshold count. The counters get reset regularly, so I can tell you how many times you’ve clipped the rig, or come within 0.5 dB of clipping, since soundcheck began, and when it last happened.”
With his many years of experience, Nebus has great confidence in Symetrix processors. “With Symetrix DSPs, I know we’re getting the right tools, I know they will perform reliably, and the value can’t be beat,” he states. “Symetrix is the bleeding edge of audio processing.”
This article is originally from www.symetrix.co
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