Founded in 1842, Willamette University in Salem, OR, is the oldest university in the Western United States. With nearly 2,200 students, the school offers a range of undergraduate and graduate courses in the arts and sciences, and post-graduate schools of business and law.
When the pandemic hit last year, Willamette University looked for ways to expand and improve its remote learning capabilities. The school's 120-seat Paulus Lecture Hall in the College of Law needed a sound system upgrade to facilitate better remote and limited in-person lectures and discussions. Kyle House, the audio video specialist for Willamette University, worked with Cascade Sound in Salem to upgrade the lecture hall's sound system with new loudspeakers from Renkus-Heinz.
"Before we implemented the new system, we were using a pretty rudimentary pair of trapezoid box speakers which were put into an alcove above the screen,” House said. “It was really primitive and ineffective and caused a lot of issues with reflections and feedback and very low intelligibility. We needed a way to integrate the students in person with those who are attending over Zoom. We needed a high-quality, highly controlled audio solution so that way our microphone arrays can work properly in the space so everyone can be heard."
House and the AV team selected a set of ICONYX Compact ICC12/3 arrays from Renkus-Heinz. The ICC12/3 offers the flexibility of an ICONYX array but with a 40-percent smaller footprint. A 12-channel digital amplifier and DSP system powers the unit's 12 3-inch full-range, high-sensitivity drivers. ICONYX Compact utilizes the full suite of RHAON II and Beamware, the Renkus-Heinz proprietary beam steering calculation and simulation program.
"We chose these speakers because we needed a solution that gave us extreme control over where the sound was placed in the room,” House said. “This is an extremely challenging room with a fan-shape orientation, as well as stadium-style seating. We have a lot of elevation change, and we also have a lot of highly reflective surfaces and even parabolic light soffits that were reflecting sound right back to the front of the room. Lapel mics weren't even able to be used in the space."
The ICC12/3 brings the performance and directivity of ICONYX to spaces where the classic ICONYX arrays may be too large. The reduced footprint allows the ICC to blend into the most architecturally sensitive spaces, while the high vertical directivity of the ICC12/3 can tame the most challenging acoustics environments.
"We used the RHAON software to configure the different steering lobes into the space, and it happened extremely quick,” House said. “We had high intelligibility, great coverage, really quickly. Having the ability to integrate the speakers and our microphones over Dante has been a huge benefit. We were able to integrate the Audinate devices to send audio around the room to different locations. It's been extremely beneficial and helpful to make this whole system work seamlessly."
With a slim-profile design, the Renkus-Heinz loudspeakers were able to match the aesthetics of the space and were integrated directly onto a nice, wood-wall surface in the lecture hall.
"The professors now can use lapel mics without any concern of feedback in the room itself,” House said. “The remote students can hear clearly because the audio put into the space is being properly controlled. I would recommend Renkus-Heinz to anyone who has a challenging environment or wants the aesthetics that the Renkus-Heinz speakers offer.”