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Harman solutions power university’s new Dolby Atmos theatre

Duncan Proctor 22 February 2017
Harman solutions power university’s new Dolby Atmos theatre

Belmont University’s Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business has utilised a suite of Harman Professional solutions for the Dolby Atmos system within its 250-seat theatre and mixing stage.

The $87 million, 134,000sqft R. Milton and Denice Johnson Center features facilities for the music business, motion pictures and media studies programmes, with spaces including classrooms, labs, performance spaces, production spaces and research rooms. The theatre and mixing stage is equipped with a Dolby Atmos immersive audio system and utilises Harman’s JBL loudspeakers, Crown amplifiers and BSS networked audio.

“Curb College has always offered excellent state-of-the-art technology resources for our students including the best of music production, sound stages, audio recording and editing,” said Dave Warburton, manager, recording and film studios, Belmont University. “With this latest expansion, we’ve greatly enhanced this world-class facility to offer advanced audio for film and film editing facilities with immersive sound production and editing and networked audio experience.”

The Johnson Screening and Mixing Theater makes Curb College the world’s first and only university-based film programme capable of teaching the process of developing and producing theatre-ready films in the Dolby Atmos immersive format.

“Often with school film projects and amateur productions, the audio is usually the first element to drop off. Student film courses at most schools don’t dedicate the time and resources to teaching and creating professional audio,” said Warburton. “Directors regard audio as half the film experience. Our goal is to give students the opportunity to work with the very latest in audio production tools and technology and enable them to create projects that look and sound professional.”

The Dolby Atmos Rendering and Mastering Unit (Dolby RMU) allows faculty to teach the process of creating and compiling movies in immersive Dolby Atmos sound, as well as traditional 7.1 and 5.1 formats. The system design for the loudspeakers alone presented some unique challenges, with the overall goal of providing maximum sound quality and flexibility.

“Designing and installing the Atmos system within the Johnson theatre was fun and rewarding,” said Keith Martin, senior account manager, M3 Technology Group.

“Every speaker in the theatre is independent and we’re able to create a completely immersive audio experience. With different imaging between all channels and speakers you can make sounds come from an exact location in the theatre,” added M3 senior designer engineer, Todd Lewis, CTS-D, DMC-E.

The Johnson theatre has 34 JBL 9320 high-power cinema surrounds, five JBL 5732 three-way high-power ScreenArray loudspeakers and four JBL 4642A dual 18in bass reflex subwoofers. The entire system is powered by a set of 14 Crown DCi Network amplifiers with a total of 64 channels, connected through BSS BLU-806 audio transport.

“At one point we were challenged to come up with a ceiling mount solution for a few of the JBL 9320 speakers. We fabricated a nice mounting system that is completely flexible, allowing for angle changes and adjustments,” said Martin. “This turned out to be a great feature for this working classroom. If students want to work with how speakers are angled and mounted, and how it effects the room in either 5.1, 7.1 or immersive. They can make it what they need. It’s a very flexible sound system.”

“We deployed a Harman-based system with JBL speakers, Crown DCi amplifiers, BSS BLU Link because it all works together seamlessly,” said Lewis. “Another huge advantage for a Harman solution is that the Dolby Cinema processors also use the same transport protocol. This makes the entire system reliable, efficient and easy to install and use.

“Essentially we daisy-chained all the Crown DCi network amplifiers, DSPs and the Dolby processors on a loop with Cat6 cable between each box for access to the entire system. Except for a few analogue input cables and speaker cables, the entire audio system is in the digital domain. We used Dante to integrate the Avid products into the BSS DSP so everything is connected digitally.”

www.harman.com

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