All audio within the Auditorium is transported through BSS Soundweb DSP and streamed to appropriate areas via a pair of high-performance Ethernet switches
HARMAN's JBL, Crown and dbx cinema system is constructed around a BSS Soundweb digital network

The University of Exeter’s stunning new Forum project has transformed the heart of the Streatham, UK campus and provides a vibrant new centerpiece with HARMAN’s JBL, Crown and dbx cinema system, constructed around a BSS Soundweb digital network.

Officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II, the inspirational mix of outside and inside space includes an auditorium, two technology-rich exploration labs, a multimedia room, featuring three editing stations with 60-inch preview monitoring, a seminar training room and the seminar block and group study room—as well as a new Student Services Center, refurbished library, retail and catering outlets.

Sir Robert McAlpine, the main contractor for the University of Exeter, commissioned GV Multi-media Ltd. with the challenging task of providing and integrating the vast AV system in the Forum. Working on tight timescales (since the opening needed to form part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations), and to a specification put together by consultants Buro Happold, the jewel in the crown is the 404-seat Alumni Auditorium, featuring high-quality projection and audio systems. For this they were helped in no small part by the HARMAN Professional tools provided by UK and Eire distributors, Sound Technology Ltd.

Designed for ultimate flexibility of content, including musical presentations and cinema-quality screening of films, the Alumni Auditorium benefits from a fully integrated industry-standard specification, including HD widescreen projection, IPTV streaming and videoconferencing.

All audio within the Auditorium is transported through BSS Soundweb DSP and streamed to appropriate areas via a pair of high-performance Ethernet switches installed in a separate remote amplifier rack.

The JBL speaker setup is impressive in terms of functionality as well as its aesthetics. The suite features Crown CTs-powered JBL ScreenArray cinema loudspeakers, housed flush to the screen, to accommodate the left, right and center channels—and an ARS (Assisted Reverb System) as part of a 7.1 surround system.

Elsewhere, the first Exploration Lab also boasts a full AV spec with the audio passed into a DSP processor to allow routing, via a Crown CTs 600 power amplifier, to a pair of JBL CBT 100LA line array column speakers – also providing record outputs for an Echo360 lecture capture.

“The BSS Soundweb worked extremely well with the CTs amplifiers and JBL ScreenArray”

In the Exploration Labs’ Group Study room, complete with 10 60-inch wallmounted flat panel displays, the in-room audio is provided by four further JBL CBT 100LA’s—one in each corner of the room.

Helping to realise the university’s vision were GV’s National Technical Manager, Daniel Victory, and Divisional Director, Richard Watts. According to the former, JBL’s ‘next generation’ ScreenArray loudspeaker system was implemented to satisfy the varied needs of the flexible space, including musical performances from solo singers to orchestral pieces to operatics—as well as day-to-day presentations and cinema surround applications. “The JBL ScreenArray series offers the fidelity and high performance necessary for all of these applications, with the audio carefully controlled, routed, equalised, crossed-over and limited by the powerful Soundweb London DSP,” Victory explained.

The Soundweb network itself is built around a pair of BLU-800’s, offering a total of 24-in x 12-out with a combination of standard and AEC input cards, for the routing and processing, an 8-input BLU-32 in the lectern for source audio and lectern microphone with phantom power, a 4U mobile stagebox comprising a BLU-320 (16in) and BLUBOB2 breakout (offering an additional eight outputs) with XLR patch-rail; this was connected using the highly costeffective BSS BLU-Link fault tolerant buss. A BLU-32 (12-out) in the amplifier rack drives the stack of three CTs 600, two CTs 1200 and two CTs 2000 power amplifiers while a further BLU-32 is used in conjunction with the artificial reverberation system.

In summary, Victory believes that the design of the technology architecture had created an extremely elegant solution. “The BSS Soundweb worked extremely well with the CTs amplifiers and JBL ScreenArray,” he said. “Using the Soundweb BLU-800’s, we were able to quickly set up and tweak the crossover settings for each individual speaker channel for the tri-amplified arrays and subwoofers. Once configured, each output was then set up with level limiting to prevent user error from damaging the loudspeakers and to keep the sound levels within safe audible limits.”

The overall performance of the Auditorium, he says, has continued to surprise and please everyone that has used the room since the inauguration concert. “We are extremely proud of what we have achieved at The Forum creating at the heart of the University a hub of AV technology,” he said.