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London’s Latymer school gets BSS Soundweb performance boost

A combination of Harman Professional technologies - including BSS Soundweb - and Crestron control has made the previously 'dry' performance space more reverberant.

Students at the Latymer grammar school in North London, UK, are offered a stimulating curriculum that includes all forms of artistic performance. A recent technical upgrade at the school’s high-tech performance facility – Seward Studio – called for enhancements to its BSS Soundweb audio system.

The facility – which comprises an auditorium, theatre, art gallery and media studio – allows audio and HD video signals to be played and recorded in the Studio, then broadcast around the campus, or edited and streamed on the web. At the heart of its audio system is BSS Soundweb digital control, and in addition to routine radio and stand mics, a pair of AKG C451 mics (configured as a stereo ORTF pair), are situated above the stage area for recording.

Since the studio was offering ‘dry’ acoustics unfit for solo musicians and ensembles, Harman Professional UK distributor Sound Technology was tasked with enhancing the BSS Soundweb digital network through controlling speaker delays and time alignment to manage artificial reverberation.

The idea was to pass the signal from the AKG 451s through the Soundweb system and into a Lexicon reverb.

After testing and the concept proven, integrator Fox Visual Systems installed a Lexicon MX400 Dual Stereo/Surround Reverb Processor. This incorporates three separate reverb presets stored (depending on whether the room needed to be ‘tuned’ for solo classical performance, classical ensembles or pop rock and acoustic). These react gradually and imperceptible, and are handled by the ‘Large Hall’ and ‘Vocal Hall’ algorithms in the Lexicon.

The BSS Audio components consist of a number of BLU-BIBs and BLU-BOBs together with BLU-160 and BLU-120 DSP processors on a digital BLU-LINK. The new Lexicon device connects to the BSS architecture via XLRs.

A sophisticated Creston system is used as the ‘user-level’ interface, controlling all functions of the Studio. The Lexicon MIDI commands were coded into the Crestron SIMPL programme so that it could be controlled by an automated touch panel. Now activation is with just four button operation (three Presets and Off).

“The concept sounds easy but the devil, as ever, was in the detail,” said Don McQuistan Lexicon US helped interpret the relevant MIDI to HEX strings, and Antony of the School’s IT team coded Crestron. Finally Ben Todd of Sound Technology gave us the benefit of his ‘ears’ and established the optimum settings.”