As part of a comprehensive refit of the AV facilities at the headquarters of The Royal Society in London, Winchester-based AV integrator Whitwam recently installed two Shure SCM820 eight-channel automatic audio mixers and three Sound Devices PIX260 AV recorders.
Presentations by members of the Royal Society take place throughout the year in the lecture theatres in the Grade I-listed building in Carlton House Terrace. Most of these presentations are amplified and some are recorded or broadcast for posterity. The Sound Devices AV recorders were installed in the largest gallery, the Wellcome Trust lecture theatre, to capture the output from the four cameras situated there, while the Shure mixers were installed in the Society's dining rooms, where microphones and sound reinforcement are also often used for talks, prizegiving ceremonies and speeches.
Whitwam has used Shure's SCM810 mixers before, but the SCM820s were chosen because of their ability to interface with other AV equipment in the building via the Royal Society's touchscreen-operated Crestron control system, using the industry-standard Dante audio interconnection protocol (which also allows the connection of the Dante-enabled PIX260s in the Wellcome Trust theatre if required). Each mixer allows up to eight mic channels to be connected, and the built-in Intellimix technology simplifies management and mixing of the sound sources in the room.
"Essentially, all members have to do is pick up a microphone, or begin speaking into a desktop boundary mic in either room, and that mic will become active on one of the SCM820 mixer channels," explained David Harding, MD of Whitwam. "It was the simplicity of this system, and its integrated nature, that particularly appealed to us, and to The Royal Society. If an important event demands the presence of someone manually mixing, using the SCM820s is as simple as turning a knob to the right for each microphone to make it louder, and the other way to make it quieter. It doesn't get much simpler than that!"
For large-scale events or presentations, the Dante interfacing allows the two SCM820s to be linked for 16-channel use, or larger-format Dante-enabled digital mixers can be incoporated for higher channel counts.
"All that's needed then is a press of a button on the Crestron system to re-route the audio to the larger console, and another when the event is over to put the SCM820s back in the loop," continued Harding. "All of the interconnections are handled down simple Cat5 cable, and there's no patching or fiddling around. Unsurprisingly, we're now getting a lot of interest in this kind of Dante/SCM820-based networked automatic mixing system from other clients, and no wonder — it's a neat solution."