Audio Goes A-Courtin'

While the Canadian Department of Citizenship and Immigration remains bogged down with U.S. applicants wishing to immigrate to the fair country up north, there is one recent American export that has been welcomed to Canada with open arms: Peavey Architectural Acoustics' DigiTool MX. The Ministry of Justice for the province of Quebec outfitted each of its 386 courtrooms with a DigiTool-based audio system.
Sales representative Ronnie Forgione of Ontario-based White Radio facilitated the sale of the large quantity of DigiTool units to the Quebec Ministry of Justice Audiovisual Department.

The Ministry of Justice installation got underway in January of 2004, and will be completed this month. A typical courtroom system setup for the Ministry of Justice includes several AKG microphones, a digital audio recorder and, depending on the size of the courtroom, a variety of public address/monitoring systems.

The primary function of the DigiTool system in the Ministry of Justice courtrooms is to mix and route the various microphone sources from the courtroom to the hard-disk recording system. The recording system consists of a dedicated Windows-based computer outfitted with an M-Audio 2496 audio card running custom recording software designed for court use. The mix also feeds a separate output on the DigiTool connected to an analog cassette recorder for making a safety backup recording.

A feed of the mix is also sent to a Bogen C20C personal monitor for the courtroom stenographer and to the courtroom PA system if the size of the room requires it. Where possible, the Ministry of Justice utilized existing amplifier and ceiling speaker systems for the courtroom monitoring system; otherwise, self-powered TOA speaker systems were installed.
A contact-closure control is implemented using the DigiTool's built-in CV interface to allow the courtroom judge to mute the mix output during private meetings at the bench. Additional analog or digital outputs are made available to participants for the independent recording of courtroom proceedings.

"With the DigiTool installation, we are able to maintain consistency in audiovisual operations throughout the entire court system of Quebec," said Jean-Pierre Lefevre, chief equipment analyst for Ministry of Justice Audiovisual Services.
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