Dining Out — AV.technology
Old Parliament House Members' Dining Rooms now serve up Fohhn beam steering loudspeakers and AV-over-IP signal distribution.
Text:/ Christopher Holder
Back in 2019, audio consultants, Auditoria, and AV integrator, Sound Advice, joined forces to solve the audio issues of Old Parliament House — at least in the chambers and the Kings Hall (a place where audio goes to die, such are the hostilities of the acoustics).
In 2021, they were invited back to work on the Old Parliament House Dining Room function spaces. The Members’ Dining Rooms comprise one large room flanked by two smaller ones, plus the Members’ Bar. As the name suggests, its a place where parliamentarians once quaffed and noshed. These days they serve as function spaces for hire.
Some 20 years ago Sound Advice installed ‘of its era’ audio into spaces without any permanently installed video solutions.
The new AV solution combines state-of-the-art steerable line arrays from Fohhn, Crestron NVX AV-over-IP signal distribution, and a very cleverly-installed Panasonic projection setup and large-format LG displays.
The heritage overlay discourages any tampering with the fabric of the interiors. These 86-inch LG displays stow nicely way, while the Fohhn column speakers are all but invisible.
BRINGING TOGETHER ROOM COMBINING
Room combining is one of the most deceptively tough AV nuts to crack — the ‘solutions’ are often confusing to the client with esoteric workarounds. Sound Advice has cracked the nut more elegantly than most, in no small part to the Crestron programming of Sound Advice Director, Stephen Nano.
“Not only are there three rooms that can be combined but a range of video inputs and a large quantity of Shure ULX radio mics can can be freely assigned throughout the space using Crestron touchscreens,” explains Sound Advice Managing Director, Norman Korte. “Effectively, the requirement was ‘anything to anywhere’.”
The floor boxes installed by Norman and his team 20-plus years ago didn’t go to waste. The floor box XLR inputs are now routed to a Attero-tech by QSC D32Mi networked audio device. What’s more, they’re now loaded with RJ45 connectors to allow access to the AV LAN. Crestron NVX transceivers take HDMI lectern video ‘lunch boxes’ are ready to take (and convert) audio (via Dante) and video from a lectern presentation and get it onto the LAN. It’s an approach that helps simplifies the routing, such that the Members’ Dining Room operators can get a function up and running via the touchscreens without specialised AV assistance.
HERE TO SERVE
Part of the reason for reusing the floor boxes was simply ‘if it ain’t broke…’ but the larger consideration was the heritage overlay on the spaces. The edict from the top was to not touch anything unless you absolutely have to. And if you absolutely need to make any additions, then ensure they’re as unobtrusive as possible.
The drop-down 130-inch Screen Innovations screens would have been a great idea regardless, but given the architectural sensitivities, they were essential, as are the masterfully-concealed Panasonic PT-MZ670 projectors.
Ditto the 86-inch LG 86UH5E displays. Sound Advice devised a very neat mechanism for stowing them out of the way, a little like a TV screen on the seat back of a Dreamliner.
The audio also needed to be ‘invisible’. The Fohhn line array loudspeakers worked a treat in the previous upgrades, especially in the Kings Hall where they were mounted flat to the wall in coffered alcoves high up in the vaulted ceiling. The audio from the arrays is electronically beam steered down to where the people are and away from the hard surfaces as much as possible. So, little wonder, then that Auditoria’s Luis Miranda turned to Fohhn once again for the Dining Rooms — a pair of larger format DLI-230 loudspeakers in the main room and the shorter DLI-130 with a Fohhn X-30 sub in the two adjoining function spaces.
“The beam steering is excellent and the commissioning is amazing,” observes Luis Miranda. “It’s really easy to commission the system once everything is installed and connected. The options you have in the software make it really easy to make changes and the system responds very quickly. The sound of the Fohhn loudspeakers is also excellent.”
“I spent a day at the Fohhn factory in Germany after a visit to ISE and I’m pretty impressed with the product,” concurs Norman Korte. “We’ve actually used a fair bit of it now. It’s not cheap and it’s ‘horses for courses’ but when you really need it, it works incredibly well.”