Headquartered in Madison, the Wisconsin REALTORS Association (WRA) is 13,000 members strong and one of the largest trade organizations in the Badger State. Among the many services that it offers its members, continuing education is perhaps the most prominent. Throughout most of its hundred-plus year history, members traveled to the WRA headquarters to keep current with seminars, workshops, and conferences; its building contains flexible training and conference rooms to deliver those services.
With the advent of modern telecommuting technologies, the WRA has sought to bring its continuing education to its members. However, the staff's early experimentation with free web-based software and homespun AV technology proved frustrating on both ends due to poor audio and video quality. WRA hired Peak Systems Group of Reedsburg, Wisconsin to update their rooms with modern remote conferencing technology, and the AV integrator obliged with a new system centered on the uniquely functional Symetrix SymNet Radius AEC Dante network audio DSP.
"They were trying to adapt their existing technology for use with free web-based remote conferencing software," said Jason Keagy, president of Peak Systems Group. "They set up a camera on a tripod and brought in a portable audio mixer, but making that all work correctly was not easy for someone without an AV background. They had a lot of failures and poor audio quality led to a lot of frustration. Folks were struggling to understand the presentations, and they weren't free to participate. On the video end, the staff tried to zoom the camera in on the screen, with predictable results."
In addition to the entire pedigreed collection of audio processing modules that Symetrix has perfected, the SymNet Radius AEC includes connectivity and specialized processing to make remote conferencing transparent and pleasurable. The 1U rack unit contains eight mic/line wideband echo cancellers, eight line outputs, and four auxiliary line inputs. Each individual channel has AEC processed and direct outputs plus dedicated reference and auxiliary inputs, allowing any source connected over Dante to take advantage of the onboard processing. "They needed better audio for web feeds, as well as phone-in technology," said Keagy. "The Radius AEC was the perfect choice. We used its expansion slot for a Symetrix 2 Line Analog Telephone Interface Card. The Radius AEC's native Dante networking capability assured us that future system expansion, if needed, would be easy and cost-effective. But perhaps most importantly, our past experiences with Symetrix have always been predictable and trouble-free. Symetrix equipment just works – and it works well."
Most of the system components are used in the training room, but the Radius AEC has enough inputs, outputs, processing power, and flexibility that it's handling audio for the conference room as well. A Crestron digital media system delivers transparent AV system control via a Crestron touch screen and coordinates video I/O and routing with the audio I/O and routing of the Radius AEC. For fine-scale control of audio processing, Peak Systems Group gave the WRA staff Symetrix ARC-WEB internet-based control, which they can access via their smartphones or via the training or conference room computers.