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Creating a Better Meeting Culture

Culture Trip’s modern offices needed a modern audio system; integration firm Flipside delivered.
(Image credit: Yamaha)

Based in London’s Mayfair, but with offices and freelance contributors based around the world, Culture Trip is a fast-growing travel, media, and entertainment business that creates stories to highlight what is special about a place, its people, and culture. Yamaha VXL1 line array loudspeakers and an MTX3 matrix processor form a key part of a new audio system that has radically improved the company’s meetings.

“We want to inspire people to plan their trips, go beyond their cultural boundaries, and connect with the world around them,” said Culture Trip CEO and founder Kris Naudts, MD, Ph.D. “We aim to bring the world to everyone and bring everyone closer together.”

The staff regularly gathers for town hall meetings in a 1,600-square-foot space at its headquarters, where senior staff speak, employees report back on project progress, and video linkups are made with other sites.

With such a fast-growing business, it was obvious that the existing audio system had become inadequate for these meetings, so company IT director Perry Spanyol looked for a replacement that would stand the test of time. He spoke to James Cooper, managing director of Flipside, a location integration firm.

“The goal was to make our AV consistent with the investments that we have made elsewhere—to make the audio clearer, more professional, easier to use for all, and look the part,” said Spanyol. “Flipside came highly recommended. It was immediately obvious that they were professional, knew their stuff, and were very understanding of our needs.”

Having previously completed a number of installations with Yamaha audio solutions, Cooper knew on his first visit to Culture Trip that Yamaha’s new VXL series line array loudspeakers would be an ideal solution. “The meeting space is a fairly large area to fill with sound and an especially hard task when the most important thing is intelligibility,” he said. “As soon as we saw it, we knew that less would definitely be more and we went straight for the Yamaha VXL series.”

He added, “It also became obvious that we’d need to deliver a system that was as close to automatic as possible. Any presentation could be delivered by one or a group of people, and having to deal with multiple wireless microphones was just a pain.”

Cooper and his team specified a Yamaha system comprising a pair of VXL1W-16 loudspeakers powered by a XMV4140 multichannel amplifier, with system management by an MTX3 matrix processor. Two Audio-Technica System 3000 handheld microphones are complemented by an array of three Audio-Technica hanging mics. Though it may seem simple, the system delivers remarkable flexibility and audio quality.

Culture Trip’s new sound system is powered by a Yamaha XMV4140 multichannel power amplifier, with system management by a Yamaha MTX3 matrix processor.

Culture Trip’s new sound system is powered by a Yamaha XMV4140 multichannel power amplifier, with system management by a Yamaha MTX3 matrix processor.

(Image credit: Flipside)

“What was slightly harder was trying to work out the best way to deal with the dynamic nature of the microphone requirements,” said a representative from Flipside. “Given the fact this office had the usual relatively low false ceiling, we pretty quickly arrived on the idea of installing three of Audio-Technica’s Engineered Sound microphones in an array across the presentation area. This would mean we could create a section of floorspace from which any individual or group could be picked up and amplified out through the system, something made possible by the MTX3.”

“The vocal reproduction of the VXL series is impeccable. They can really throw sound, with very wide horizontal coverage, but their narrow vertical dispersion makes them crystal clear over a very long range,” added Cooper. 

As well as the inputs from the microphone array and handhelds, the MTX3 takes feeds from computer and Skype. Several further input points are provided on wall panels around the room. “Besides the physical inputs, the MTX3 has a ton of processing power,” Cooper continued. “It includes four channels of Dan Dugan automixing, which is exactly what we needed for the microphone array. It constantly monitors and adjusts the levels of the three microphones to share the system gain and avoid any feedback issues.”

Control for the system is via a user-friendly DCP1V4S surface-mount panel. All a member of the staff has to do is switch on the input groups they want to use and adjust the master volume.

“There are a hundred different types of companies out there that can all make recommendations on AV installs, so it can be quite daunting,” said Spanyol. “Flipside [was] genuinely 10 out of 10, and we absolutely love the system. It has only been installed for a short time, but we’ve already had great comments from the offices that the sound is 100 percent clearer.”