With less than a year in the marketplace, QSC's Q-Sys digital processing platform has established itself in installations in stadiums, theme parks, cruise ships, museums and legislative chambers. With the introduction of the PS-1600, PS-800, PS-400 page stations and a suite of supporting software functions, Q-Sys now addresses the needs of transportation hubs and other facilities needing flexible public address capability.
"The centralized architecture and processing power of Q-Sys allow us to take a different approach," said QSC Marketing VP Gerry Tschetter. "Instead of requiring additional hardware boxes to do paging, all the functions are performed by a Q-Sys core running V2.0 software. All that's required is the addition of input devices which could be QSC networked page stations, plain old microphones or a telephone system."
Three versions of the page station are available and differ only in the number of physical buttons provided. System designers may select a 16, 8, or 4 button version depending on the needs of the facility. All versions are offered with either gooseneck or handheld microphones. As with other Q-Sys devices, they support dual networks for redundancy. The page stations also include a second microphone input so that a single station can serve, for example both the jet-way and the kiosk of an airport departure gate. Page stations are connected directly to the Q-Sys core via standard Gigabit Ethernet; Power over Ethernet (PoE) is also employed so no local AC power is required.
"Q-Sys page stations offer amazing flexibility," says QSC's Q-Sys Product Manager Dale Sandberg. "Besides paging, they can trigger message playback from the Core and even recall Snapshots. To make each function obvious to the user, we've outfitted them with a 240 x 60 graphics display so instructions can be shown on screen. To make them robust we’re using capacitive-touch buttons that are very responsive and since they have no moving parts they are extremely durable."
On the software side, the "Public Address Router" bears responsibility for a number of complex tasks including; routing of pages; delaying, queuing and sorting delayed pages based on priority and zone availability; playing and routing prerecorded messages; Queuing and sorting message playback based on priority and zone availability; mixing pages and messages with background music; routing background music; receiving telephone-based pages and more. Other related functions include ANC (Ambient Noise Compensation) and message scheduling.
John Britton, Technical Director of the QSC Systems Integration Group states, “The underlying technology choices we've made with Q-Sys allowed us to add comprehensive public address features in relatively short order. Not only that, but we've made these features configurable and manageable to a degree not seen in other products. We are also well-positioned to react to customer input. Please stay tuned for more excitatory and rousing developments.”
An "Administration Interface" allows the staff of the facility to make changes to zone assignments, priority levels, page commands, passwords, schedulers and other parameters without getting into the underlying system design. The system designer can determine how much or how little is accessible to the facility staff and can assign password protected access.
Central to the system's power is the Q-Sys Core. Available in three sizes ranging from 64 inputs x 64 outputs to 512 inputs x 512 outputs, the Q-Sys Core works in tandem with Q- Sys I/O Frames – 1 RU modules that accommodate up to 16 channels of audio using factory-configured, four-channel Q-Sys cards supplying a variety of input and output options. Note that I/O Frames are not required for connection of the QSC page stations but will be needed for other audio inputs and outputs.
Since Q-Sys revolves around a centralized processing architecture, having all processing taking place in a single unit provides audio designers with greater flexibility. Any input can be routed to any output without the need to create convoluted signal paths. The need for system segmentation due to processor constraint is completely eliminated as well, thereby letting the designer create a "natural" signal flow based on the job not the product.
Q-Sys is available from authorized QSC dealers and distributors around the globe. Page stations and V2.0 software will be available beginning in summer of 2010.
Visit qscaudio.com for more information.