Towson University was founded in 1866 as Maryland's first training school for teachers, and although it has evolved into a four-year institution consisting of eight colleges with over 20,000 students enrolled, the school still produces the most teachers of any university in the state. When its Classroom and Computer Lab Technologies Media Lab needed a long-overdue upgrade, they made sure the lab would be at the cutting edge of media technologies for years to come. The System Solutions Group of integration firm Visual Sound, based in Broomall, PA, employed components from Bose Professional, designing and installing a sound system for the 128-seat tiered classroom and presentation space.
The system consists of the following Bose components: a pair of self-powered Panaray MSA12X digital beam-steering columnar arrays, a RoomMatch Utility RMU208 loudspeaker, four Freespace DS 100SE surface-mount loudspeakers, and a ShowMatch SMS118 subwoofer. The passive loudspeakers are powered by a PowerMatch PM8500N networked amplifier accompanied by a FreeSpace ZA 250-LZ zone amplifier. The systems are managed using a Bose Professional ControlSpace ESP-1240 processor networked together with a ControlSpace CC-64 control center and the onboard processing of the PowerMatch amplifier. Dante network cards allow for a highly efficient and reliable digital transport to interconnect the Bose devices and provide a digital gateway for other Dante equipped input devices.
“This is a multi-use, tiered classroom and presentation space, and it has to perform at the highest levels of audio for what the school uses it for,” said Chris Cook, installation manager at Visual Sound and the project manager for the Towson University Classroom and Computer Lab Technologies Media Lab renovation project. “It’s used to teach a range of classes, but it’s also used for students’ end-of-year media-project presentations. A lot of those [presentations] rely on sound, and the sound has to be great. Bose delivers that.”
Many of those presentations, as well as many of the films and videos shown in the room, also require surround sound, and the Bose Professional loudspeakers are configured for that. The main Panaray MSA12X digital beam-steering columnar arrays are used as the left-right stereo pair, with the RoomMatch RMU 208 utility loudspeaker used as the center channel, two of the FreeSpace DS100SE surround speakers and the ShowMatch SMS 118 subwoofer as the LFE channel, all powered by the PowerMatch amplifier. The remaining pair of Freespace DS 100SE surface-mount speakers are powered by the FreeSpace ZA 250-LZ zone amplifier. The Freespace DS 100SE surface-mount speakers are used as the left-rear and right-rear surround and fill speakers.
The DSP in the ESP-1240 processor allows users to select any speaker configuration they need at the press of a button. “It can go from speech to music to sound effects instantly and seamlessly,” Cook said. “The teachers who use the room say it’s a major improvement, both in terms of sound quality and ease of use.” In fact, Cook said he has already recommended Bose systems for the next phase of the school’s planned upgrades. “Bose gives them what they want and need: crisp, articulate audio and plenty of dynamic range, that can cover a wide array of media presentations. Good sound isn’t just for entertainment anymore. It needs to be everywhere, and Bose delivers that.”
“The old system we had needed upgrading because it couldn't handle the dynamic range needed for screening student films very well, especially the wide range of quiet and loud moments in the sound mix,” said Joe Kraemer, assistant professor, Electronic Media and Film at Towson University. “We always ended up turning up the volume to hear the quiet moments, and the loud moments would be distorted and blow out the speakers. The sub also didn't play the low tones very well and started buzzing with anything with deep bass. The upgrade to the Bose system fixed both of those issues. Now I'm spending less time riding the volume level knob during the screenings. The loud and deep bass moments sound great. It makes for a much better screening experience in that environment.”