The National Videogame Arcade (NVA) has upgraded its technical infrastructure with a solution utilising a range of Yamaha Commercial Installation Solutions (CIS) products to route audio to any of the rooms within the facility.
The NVA is an educational and entertainment resource designed to encourage young people into programming and game design. It was created as part of CQ Connect, a European Regional Development Fund programme and is located in Nottingham and backed by Nottingham Trent University, the City Council and Confetti Institute of Creative Technology. It features four floors of playable galleries as well as a cinema, café and lecture/event space, covering over 3,000sqm.
System designer/installer Rob Harris, explained: “It's a complicated building, basically in two halves with a courtyard in the middle, with each having a variety of different spaces and corridors. We needed a system that would effectively route any audio to any room or combination of rooms, but one of the fundamental remits of the design was that the whole system had to be controllable by non-technical users.”
“I was familiar with Yamaha’s DME series digital mixing engines and, having looked at the CIS series, realised they were the only products capable of delivering what was needed.”
The focal point of the system is a pair of Dante-networked MTX5-D matrix mixers, two redundant network switches, two XMV4280-D and two XMV 8280-D power amplifiers, which drive over 70 Yamaha speakers including VXC ceiling models, VS4, VS6, VXS5 and VXS8 full range units, plus a selection of VXS10ST subs, all in a mixture of 70V, 100V, 8 ohm and 4 ohm configurations. Straightforward system control comes from six wall-mounted DCP4V4S wall-mounted units. An additional three PA2030 power amplifiers drive systems in breakout teaching spaces and the system also integrates with some existing AV technology.
The versatility of the Yamaha equipment meant that Harris could devise and install a highly complex system to satisfy the venue’s requirements, but make the whole thing very easy to control.
“The combination of the MTX5-Ds and XMV amplifiers is so much better than anything else available, it's on a different level. Everything is so configurable, which not only delivered the required flexibility, but also meant we could successfully deliver full system control via the rotary and pushbutton controls of the DCP4V4S units,” said Harris.
The first requirement was for the two sides of building to be capable of being run independently, connected by effectively a redundant Dante ‘digital bus’ between the two parts. In addition, the YDIF I/O is used for internal system bussing and additional routing. This means that different levels of background music can be running in each zone, without affecting the overall system volume setting. But, at the same time, the system is closely tied in with the building’s fire alarm system.
The solution is complicated by, firstly, in addition to the 100V line ceiling speakers installed throughout for the main system, many rooms feature mic/line inputs and pairs of 8-ohm VXS loudspeakers. And, secondly, the requirement to broadcast audio from any input source in the building to any of the loudspeakers in any other areas.
“The physical inputs in each area are almost like stage ties in a venue. To achieve this, the system has a lot of analogue patching deeply integrated with the digital network,” said Harris. “For example, a presentation can be done in one area using the local inputs and its 8 ohm loudspeakers, but the audio can be also routed anywhere, if required.
“Another example is that there’s a local panel in the café, to quickly plug a microphone in to make an announcement and have a local iPod for background music. Yet, at the same time, that announcement and/or music can be routed to anywhere else in the entire complex.
“The system has so many different uses that a huge amount of processing is needed. People think that pressing a button on one of the DCP4V4S wall units is just switching a microphone on and off, but it’s also causing the system to set compressors, EQ, gain levels, inputs, outputs and so on. And that’s all going on behind the scenes, without anybody being aware of it. Nearly all the available sends, Dante channels and DSP are being used. The system is also fully redundant and has facilities like automated, scheduled overnight amplifier shutdowns and switchovers.”
“It is also configured so I can do most of the technical support remotely. I have secure access and, on one occasion, configured the system for an event on my iPhone while sat in the pub.”
Although all the system’s DSP and routing is done in the background, the educational remit of the NVA has meant that all the technical infrastructure and wiring is deliberately kept out in the open. Dubbed the Axonic Cascade, the wiring is colour coded for its different uses and visitors are encouraged to observe it, likening its routes to nerves in the human body.
“Having it all visible means we can explain how it works in a relatable way to visitors, helping them to understand the principles of networks and programming,” added Harris.
“The audio system is one of the things we’re proudest of about the building,” says Iain Simons, NVA co-founder. “Rob and Yamaha Commercial Audio Europe, plus around five miles of cabling, have delivered something remarkable,” said NVA co-founder Iain Simons.
Harris concluded: “It’s a very unusual system and I think it’s probably doing more in terms of processing and routing than any installation in any other venue I’ve been involved with.”