IIT Indore, India

Hurrairah bin Sohail speaks with Hitech Audio System and QSC India about the AV deployment at IIT Indore, an installation that might signpost the future for the education sector in India.

Creating effective learning spaces relies on smart usage of technology. Indian Institutes of Technology [IIT] did just that for its Indore campus.

Hitech Audio Systems was selected as the integrator for the project. Praveen Kumar, national sales manager – projects at Hitech Audio Systems, elaborates: “On behalf of IIT Indore, Central Public Works Department [CPWD], acting as the project manager, floated the tender for AV based on technical requirements and inputs shared by the IIT faculty. CPWD is a government organisation that works as an execution body for a range of tenders and projects.”

Praveen continues: “CPWD put the tender in the public domain but there was a set of pre-qualification criteria for the bidding. The specific conditions were based on the value of the project. CPWD wanted to see if the integrator had worked on projects of similar worth in the past. We had done IIT New Delhi (2015), IIT Gandhinagar (2016), IIT Jammu (2019) and are also working on IIT Palakadd at the moment, so we met the pre-qualification criteria regarding project value quite easily. Together with two other established Indian integrators we moved to the next steps which were technical evaluation of the bids as well as price evaluation. In the end, Hitech’s proposal met the technical specifications of the IIT tender completely and it was also the most competitive with regards to price, so we were awarded the project.”

The IIT Indore project focused on four spaces. The main space was Nalanda Auditorium, a 2,500-seat space, together with four seminar halls namely Maitree, Sadipani, Kalidas and Gargee. The AV systems deployed for these spaces are standardised with slight differences implemented due to the differing nature of the five spaces.

Audio at IIT Indore is based around QSC’s audio solutions. Praveen details: “As far as the audio system is concerned IIT had a few interesting decisions to make. In spaces like this, normally the speakers and the backend are analogue. But IIT Indore has gone with a digital backbone with the QSC Q-Sys Core 110f processor being at the heart of the system together with QSC amplifiers and QSC ceiling speakers providing sound. Gargee seminar hall which has QSC cinema speakers can be used as a multiple purpose hall primarily for movie and content screening.”

Why go digital? Praveen answers: “The one big benefit of this approach is that we can take the audio over Dante and take it across to the far end without issues. This also means we can implement control and monitoring of all seminar rooms and Auditorium from one centralised location. And in the future if IIT Indore wants to expand and add more spaces and connect them to the existing spaces this can be done very easily.”

Interestingly, this was Hitech Audio Systems’ first large project in the education sector working with QSC products and Praveen details the experience: “Our engineers are CTS certified and trained abroad and work in the digital realm on a day-to-day basis so handling the digital backend was not an issue. Of course, for the fine-tuning of the system we leveraged support from QSC India because this was actually the first time that we were deploying a QSC Q-Sys system. I must say that it was a brilliant experience for us.”

Deploying the audio system did pose some challenges. Praveen explains: “Initially we were given the Auto CAD plans from the customer’s side and we discussed with QSC regarding the most optimal placement of the speakers in the five spaces. QSC India saw the designs and had a clear idea of the speaker placements and collaborated with Hitech. Once we got the speaker placements and angles vetted and approved from CPWD, the installation was easy. For the backend, our team was able to get the programming and the basic configuration done and we sought QSC’s expertise to get the fine-tuning and the EQ done for the spaces.”

Santosh Kumar, national sales manager at QSC India, gives further details regarding the specific support the manufacturer offered the integrator: “We were in touch with the Hitech installation team on a weekly basis during the course of the project, so the communication let us know how the installation was progressing. It also allowed us to evaluate and validate the system from two ends which was a benefit. Once the physical installation was complete and the basic programming was done, we stepped in to help with the final tuning.”

It is important to note that the QSC Q-Sys platform is also being used for video and control. QSC NV series encoders and decoders are used to transport video signals over IP to Samsung displays and Christie LED Tile videowalls.

The Q-Sys platform also manages Lumens PTZ cameras that serve as inputs in the four spaces. This holistic approach to audio, video and control was intended from the start as Santosh says: “Our initial discussions, even before the quotation for the tender from IIT and CPWD went out, were around the technical requirements and how QSC could fit into that. And what we were really talking about was how audio, video and control could be integrated together through the Q-Sys platform where QSC Core processor is not working only as an audio DSP but also as a video and control processor.”

Praveen talks about the experience of deploying the QSC Q-Sys platform for this project: “The QSC Q-Sys is an ecosystem in the true sense of the word. Now from the integrator’s perspective in commercial terms it might not present the greatest opportunity for margins, but I believe that in the long run it is more lucrative. From the maintenance perspective, it is extremely good because you are not using different permutations and combinations of products which means that servicing the system becomes easy.”

He continues: “And even in terms of installation and deployment there are benefits. I can tell you from the direct experience of this project that programming the Q-Sys ecosystem and getting it up and running is much easier than using multiple different boxes from different manufacturers. On the IIT Indore project our programmer came to us and told us that the programming for the system which we had budgeted a month’s time for had been completed in three days. That shows you the savings QSC Q-Sys can offer in terms of manpower hours. Finally, I believe that the Q-Sys ecosystem offers a great user experience. Using one single platform allows us to standardise the user touchpoints and create GUIs that are the same across touch panels.”

Praveen also sheds light on why Christie LEDs were chosen: “Firstly, we have a strong association with Christie, and we’ve worked on multiple projects together which means we are very familiar with the capabilities of the products and what they can deliver. The second reason was quality. At Hitech, we do not compromise on quality because we believe that our work is a reflection of us as a company. So, these two factors made it simple for us to select Christie LED Tiles.”

Regarding the obstacles faced during the installation phase Praveen details: “One of the biggest challenges we faced was the fact that the spaces were not provided to us in the raw form. In fact, they were very close to complete with respect to things like flooring and ceiling. This made it difficult for us to install the speakers without spoiling the aesthetic and the finish of the spaces. However, we were able to work around the challenge and still deliver.”

Praveen concludes: “We’re already looking ahead to using the system we installed for IIT Indore and offering it to the education sector in India.”

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