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Making the grade: AV overhaul at Surrey University’s state-of-the-art lecture theatre

Shure and Snelling Business Systems combine to provide comprehensive, easy to use solution for multi-purpose theatre

An AV overhaul has transformed Surrey Business School at the University of Surrey, Guildford, resulting in a state-of-the-art 400+ seat lecture theatre, with multiple teaching benefits.

The audio installation is a collaboration between Shure and systems integrator Snelling Business Systems.

The project’s goal was to create a single AV system built to the requirements of three user groups – Lecture Theatre/Classroom Lectures, Live Events and Cinema Theatre – without the need for prior training or dedicated IT support.

“The vast capabilities of the system are perfect for the range of uses we have, from lectures to live events and conference, as well as a cinema,” said Rob Purcell, Head of Learning Spaces Technology at the University of Surrey. “During everyday use, there is no set-up required, which ensures that the academic tutor is confident they can use the system without IT support. Traditional lectures and seminars can be recorded at the press of a button, making the resource perfect for today’s online learning environment.

“Another great aspect of the design is its adaptability. Within the first six months the AV system has enabled us to rearrange the space radically to facilitate multiple layouts and forums. Having an AV system with such high-tech specifications means that all of our events exceed the expectations of the often high-profile attendants.”

Working with the University, Shure’s technical team created a flexible, user-friendly system designed for fast and reliable switchover from one user mode to another at the touch of a button. The team provided technical support and streaming tests across campus between lecture theatres to asses Microflex® Wireless capabilities for RF stability and networked control.

Steve Royans, Business Development Director, Snelling Business Systems, commented: “We required a system which is not only simple to use in day-to-day operation, but also operable in multiple setup modes,” added Purcell. “For example, the Lecture Theatre has three widely varying user groups and the system must respond to their requirements, while masking the complexity of the underlying technology. While academics require a system that is up and running at the touch of a few buttons, the live events team require a far more complex array of options.”

With audio an integral part of any lecture environment, Shure’s Microflex® Wireless system was chosen to complete the upgrade, with the system providing high-quality microphones, which offer a natural, precise sound and high intelligibility.

The system also benefits from the flexibility of form offered through 2x Shure Microflex® Wireless body pack microphones situated at the tutor’s desk, and 14x Shure Microflex® Wireless mics, comprising 2x wireless body pack microphones, 4x handheld wireless XLR adaptor transmitters, 2x omnidirectional table microphones and 6x gooseneck transmitter bases.

All microphones are used in conjunction with lecture capture software to record voice, ensuring audio clarity is delivered across the whole system, and creating the perfect environment for students and lecturers to work within.

“Providing IT administrators and AV technicians the ability to monitor and control Shure hardware devices remotely was most appealing, given the focus of the brief on live events,” remarked Royans. “Furthermore, to aid end-user operation, the battery, charging and mute status, on a per-microphone basis, can be programmed to graphically display on the Crestron touch panel.”