Case Study: Don Bosco University, India

Given a challenging acoustic space to work with, integrator Ace Acoustics & AV Solutions and distributor Alphatec Audio Video devise an AV solution that exceeds Don Bosco University’s expectations.

Education institutes require technology to function. At Don Bosco University’s facility in Tepesia, Sonapur, Assam, India the task of delivering the requisite AV systems fell to integrator Ace Acoustics & AV Solutions and distributor Alphatec Audio Video.

Ramanuj Sarmah, director at Ace Acoustics & AV Solutions, talks about how the integrator came onboard for the project: “We have been working with Don Bosco University for the past seven to eight years and have previously worked on delivering AV systems for their classrooms so there is a certain level of trust in our business relationship. This project came to us through a referral based on our past work for the university. We were responsible for the entire design and delivery of the AV works.”

The project scope included fitting out the main atrium with appropriate audio and video systems as well as doing the same for two smaller atriums and two seminar rooms. Sarmah provides further details: “The atrium serves as the main area in the academic complex and the client wanted to get maximum utilisation out of the space. It is primarily a function area and the atrium can seat around 5,000 people as well as accommodate people standing on the balcony.”

He continues: “The basic requirement was good quality audio and video. There was an echo problem in the atrium and Don Bosco University wanted to make sure that the audio could be heard by everyone in the space with the same level of clarity. On the video side, they don’t do many presentations but since this is a big area they wanted to make sure that when the need arises, say for a convocation, the image should be seen by everyone, even the people in the back seats should have a good view.”

With regards to the display solution for the atrium Sarmah says: “We thought about LED at the initial stages, but the cost was a factor. It was a very expensive proposition at the size that we were looking for. Eventually we settled on Panasonic projectors. We have been working with Panasonic for a long time so there is a certain level of comfort we have when working with their products and in the past we have always gotten fantastic support from them.”

Video signals are transmitted over Cat6 with the help of a Kramer transmitter and receiver. Wireless connectivity is provided with a Barco WePresent wireless presenter. Sarmah says: “We have integrated the Barco WePresent solution with their existing WiFi network, which means that if someone seated in the audience wanted to present they can connect to the projection system by just logging in to the WiFi network. The video system for the atrium is not complex, but it is something that meets all of Don Bosco University’s requirements.”

While the video component of the project was straightforward the audio portion was more challenging. The architecture and acoustic properties of the space made the task of the AV professionals difficult as Mayank Gaurav, director of sales at Alphatec Audio Video, details: “The RT [reverberation time] was very challenging for the space, it was between 3.5s and 4s. The architecture and makeup of the space were challenging with regards to providing sound reinforcement, the atrium is circular and there is no acoustic treatment for the ceiling and the height of the ceiling is approximately 70ft.”

He continues: “Originally, the audio in the atrium was only going to be speech but as the project progressed the client expressed interest in maybe having musical performances in the area and maybe holding presentations. As this feedback came to us from Ace Acoustics, our design for the audio system had to change. And of course, there were budgetary considerations to take into account as well. But the end goal of ensuring that the we should provide quality audio for the whole space never changed.”

How were these challenges overcome? Gaurav explains: “We received some 3D pictures along with a plan layout of the atrium at the start and the first thing that popped into our heads was that the Tannoy Qflex speakers would be perfect for this atrium. The speaker has really been designed for delivering high performance in these challenging acoustic spaces. Once we had selected the Tannoy Qflex 48 we then looked at the results of its performance in the space using EASE modelling. We found that while the results might not be optimal at first, when the space fills up and the audience enters then the RT level decreases. Then we were able to hit the standards the client was expecting with regards to the clarity and coverage of the sound.”

The final audio system at Don Bosco University’s atrium comprises two Tannoy Qflex 48 columns at the front, on the left and right, mounted onto columns. These are augmented with four Tannoy VX 8.2 speakers acting as front fills and four dual 18-in subs. Turbosound IQ12 speakers serve as stage monitors. The speakers are powered by Lab.gruppen IPD and FP series amplifiers and managed by a Klarkteknik DM800 DSP. A Behringer X32 mixing console is also provided. Audio pickup is managed with the help of Sennheiser 5000 series microphones.

AV systems in the seminar rooms follow the same design template as those found in the atrium with a few crucial changes. Panasonic 5,000 lumens projectors serve as the main display but each seminar room also sports four Panasonic 65-in flat panel displays. Two FPDs are meant to provide visuals for people seated on the dais while the other two provide visuals for those situated in the balcony. Much like the atrium, video transmission is via Kramer transmitters and receivers and a Barco WePresent wireless presenter is also provided. However, a Kramer matrix switcher is also pressed into service at the backend for the seminar rooms. Ramanuj says: “We went with a matrix switch for the seminar rooms because the client wanted to support a range of inputs and outputs along with scalability and flexibility.”

Audio is handled by Tannoy ceiling speakers and amplification is provided by Behringer amplifiers. Klarkteknik DM8000 DSPs are also used. Looking back at the project and its delivery, Sarmah says: “This was the first project where we used the Qflex speakers so Alphatec’s support when it came to the design part of the project with the speakers was greatly appreciated. There were a number of acoustic challenges that we had to overcome and the programming and tuning of the audio system was a crucial aspect.”

Gaurav says: “Challenges are faced by the execution team. Our job was simple, we had to design it correctly and we are glad that we designed it correctly at the start. To do this we worked hard, we had a discussion with Music Tribe, we consulted with the technical team about what the right Qflex model would be for our project while still fitting within our client’s budget and we drew on our past experience with the Qflex. We just believed in the product, in such challenging spaces you really need to know your product, know its capabilities and its limits and what you can expect from it and what it will deliver.”

He continues: “One of the possible upgrades we can suggest is deploying a delay fill so that we have more headroom for the atrium and we can play the audio louder. Everything else, I think we hit the brief that was given to us especially when it comes to selection of the speakers. I don’t think that down the road we will be getting a new speaker that will drastically improve the performance for Don Bosco’s atrium.”

Sarmah concludes: “Don Bosco University is very happy with the results, so much so that they have standardised their audio with Tannoy speakers. After the successful completion of this project, Tannoy speakers were deployed at five more institutes. On our side, this was our first time working with Qflex and now we are actually very confident with the product and its deployment. We have been specifying it for more of our projects.”

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