Rockin' The World

As part of its efforts to give context and interpretation to the role music plays within our culture, Cleveland's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and museum hosts a number of activities and programs ranging from museum tours and major concerts to traditional classroom studies. Based upon its continued success in the latter category, the venerable non-profit institution decided late last year to broaden its educational outreach with the opening of a new distance learning lab.

Located in the stunning I.M. Pei-designed building rising from the Lake Erie shoreline that the Rock Hall calls home, the lab gives real-time voice and image to scholarship and research that knows no physical boundaries, all this thanks to a systems scheme implemented under the watchful eye of Rock Hall director of production and AV Rob Weil.

"With the lab, our goal is to reach people all over the world," Weil said recently on this, the Rock Hall's 10th anniversary year. "While that objective may seem a bit ambitious in its scope, the technology we chose makes it simple enough that a single person can easily manage the complete range of functions required of the task."

To facilitate the project's need for one-touch simplicity, an Elo 15-inch interactive LCD touchpanel interfaces with an AMX NetLinx CardFrame to bring comprehensive control to the room's laptop computer, Samsung SDP-950ST document camera, Tascam DV-D6500 DVD player, JVC SR-VS30U SVHS VCR and Mini-DV player, and Marantz PMD371 five-disc CD changer. A Polycom VSX 8000 codec and Polycom camera connects the room with the rest of the world for videoconferencing, while video and audio monitoring is left to a Pioneer 42-inch WXGA plasma display with split-screen capabilities and side-mounted loudspeakers.

Microphones within the lab are all wireless, with a Shure UC4 receiver gathering input from either a pair of MX692/C push-to-talk boundary mics or a pair of Shure subminiature WL51 cardioid lavaliers connected to U1 bodypack transmitters. Mixing for the mics-as well as all other audio sources-is accomplished with the aid of an eight-channel SCM810 automatic mixer also provided by Shure.

Outfitted with Shure's proprietary IntelliMix circuitry, which activates only the microphones being addressed to minimize poor audio caused by multiple open mics, the SCM810 offers adjustable EQ for each channel, 48V phantom power, active balanced microphone or line-level inputs and line-level outputs.
"We use a number of Shure products throughout the facility, and we found they were a good fit here too," Weil says, explaining the lab's mixing and input choices.