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Reversible Renovation - AvNetwork.com

Reversible Renovation

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A digital platform for the boardroom’s sound uses a Biamp AudiaFLEX system to manage all processing and signal routing. Input is provided by Shure in the form of four Microflex MX396 multi-element boundary microphones.
SHAWNEE, KS—A $1 million-plus expansion project recently doubled the size of SKC Communications’ headquarters in Shawnee, KS, bringing a new, fully integrated boardroom to the facility showcasing the latest audio and videoconferencing capabilities. Serving both as an internal resource and site for client demonstrations, the room takes a decidedly flexible approach in terms of function, offering its users technology options extending well beyond the norm that nonetheless remain simple and easy to use.

Occupying a 22x30 footprint within SKC’s new 20,000 square feet of office space, the boardroom was built directly within a section of floor plan housing the communication technology firm’s previous boardroom. During construction, the completely remodeled room was gutted to its core, had its ceiling raised two feet, and given a custom bow-shaped soffit outfitted with Lutron lighting matching the shape of the elegant table below it.
“In a functional sense, unlike our old boardroom, you could almost call this one reversible,” explained SKC’s Monti Carr, the man responsible for guiding systems integration on the project. “While the space is definitely used to facilitate our own internal communication needs, it was built to serve as a vehicle to conduct client demonstrations as well. As a result, we took a two-tier approach in terms of what it offers in the way of technology. On one end we have a full-blown rear-projection system and screen. Turn to the other, and you’ll find a pair of LCD screens. Using one or the other ends of the room, we can quickly reveal the look of videoconferencing today in either format. On one hand we have a very formal appearance that has a display-type impact in terms of presentation, on the other, something that’s more intimate and familiar.”

On the visual processing end of the spectrum, room technology choices abound again with the offering of multiple codecs. Fully integrated with cameras, either Polycom HDX 9004 or Tandberg 6000 MXP systems can be switched at will to feed any of the available displays.

On the end of the room served by rear-projection technology, a Mitsubishi FL7000 LCD projector with 1080p resolution delivers 5000 ANSI lumens to a screen from Da-Lite. LCD screens used on the opposite side are 52-inch models from Sharp.

Making the same demands for high quality on audio that he did for video, Carr created a digital platform for the boardroom’s sound using a Biamp AudiaFLEX system to manage all processing and signal routing. Input is provided by Shure in the form of four Microflex MX396 multi-element boundary microphones. Equipped with programmable mute switches, bi-color status indicators, and logic input/output for remote LED and mute control, the low-profile devices were deployed directly on the top of the boardroom table.

Carr selected to use a pair each of both dual and tri-element cardioid MX396 model offerings to gain the advantage of combining the coverage of many microphones within only four compact devices. “In an elegant room like this, you obviously want to use microphones that are totally unobtrusive, and keep their numbers down to as few as possible,” he said, explaining his choice in more detail. “From a technical standpoint you also want good coverage and audio quality, and in a manufacturing sense you absolutely must have reliability. All three of these aspects came together quite nicely with the MX396 microphones, plus we gained the added benefits of features like the red/green status indicators found on each model, which helped make the system as a whole that much easier to understand for anyone. The mics are the first stop in the audio chain. Keeping their interface with the user simple and effective is definitely a plus.”

 Serving both as an internal resource and site for client demonstrations, the room takes a decidedly flexible approach in terms of function, offering its users technology options extending well beyond the norm that nonetheless remain simple and easy to use for SKC Communications employees.Once captured by the MX396s, audio winds its way to a Crown CTS8200 amplifier that delivers eight dedicated channels of power to the room. Six-inch, steerable Tannoy loudspeakers are installed within the ceiling for sound reinforcement. Modular Tannoy speakers were also picked for left-right channels on each side of the room’s Da-Lite screen, as well as for the center channel beneath.

In keeping with his simple-is-best scheme, all system control falls under the intuitive guidance of a 17-inch AMX touchscreen that displays every source function and incorporates video preview as well. For times when control and monitoring must be brought directly to the boardroom table, wireless 5.2-inch controllers also provided by AMX can be used that take up little room in terms of real estate, just like the Shure MX Series microphones.
Officially debuted in front of more than 100 communications technology professionals at SKC’s Smart Communications Summit 2008 held this June, the new executive boardroom has even passed the ultimate test of seamless interface: It can be used effectively by executives.

“Everyone makes fun of executives not being able to turn on a copy machine or whatnot,” Carr noted with a laugh. “But hey, they’re busy, with a lot of important things on their minds. They—or anyone else—shouldn’t have to think about technology too much anyway. A lot of people pass through this room every day both from within and outside of our organization. If they are already tech savvy, they can make every function of the systems plan jump through the hoops without any trouble. If they’re new to this kind of technology, all it takes is 7-10 minutes of instruction, and they’re on their way. Remember, technology is supposed to serve us. It certainly does in this application, and that’s a boon for SKC and its clients.”

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