A virtual press conference from Sound & Video Contractor



ALPHARETTA, GEORGIA – MAY 2010: The North American Mission Board (NAMB) provides two principle functions that are critical to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). First, it fulfills the faith’s Great Commission in the United States and Canada to share Christ, found churches, and, importantly, send missionaries abroad. Second, it serves as the organizing base for Southern Baptist disaster relief efforts. Within its headquarters in Alpharetta, Georgia, NAMB has seventeen conference rooms, four of which are considered the main rooms – one that seats 175 and three that seat 50 each. They are normally used for training, workshops, and lectures, but during crises, such as Hurricane Katrina or the recent earthquake in Haiti, the rooms double as the nerve center for SBC disaster relief.

Because few of the rooms’ users have any audio/video training at all, NAMB AV engineer Marty Jones recently retooled the audio systems of the four rooms, as well as that of NAMB’s executive boardroom, to vastly simplify user control. To perform sophisticated logic and processing “under the hood,” he relied on SymNet DSP. To provide intuitive user control, he relied on a combination of SymNet ARC wall panel interfaces and, for the first time in the U.S., two AXIOMTEK GOT-5100T-830 Touch Panel PCs running custom SymVue user-control programs. TE Audio/Video of Harrison, Tennessee assisted with and translated Jones’ design into physical reality with attention to detail that makes NAMB’s new system perfectly clean, efficient and reliable.

The inputs to the systems are numerous, but not exotic. The larger conference room contains four wireless Shure microphones to facilitate lectures, panel discussions, and meetings. Three computer inputs – one for a resident PC and two for guests’ laptops – join a Tascam DVD player as additional input sources. The three smaller rooms each contain two computer inputs and a DVD player input. In the executive boardroom, ten interface pockets located symmetrically around the room’s large table allow anyone to plug in a laptop. In addition, each pocket also provides power and network connections.


All four conference rooms tie into a SymNet 8×8 DSP and a Cobra Link that are augmented by three SymNet Break-In 12 input expanders. SymNet Express 12×4 and 4×4 Cobra DSP serve the boardroom. An Electro-Voice CPS8.5 eight-channel amplifier with 500 W per channel into either eight ohms or 70-volt drives all the loudspeakers in the conference rooms. Four Electro-Voice ZX1 loudspeakers deliver sound to the large conference room, whereas numerous JBL Control 24c ceiling speakers do so for the smaller conference rooms. The amp offered us a great solution in that it can output the same wattage whether it is wired eight ohm or 70-volt which we have both. The ZX1 is by far that best sounding small format speaker I have ever heard and it was an obvious choice for the large room. The gain before feedback and the full-range sound is just amazing.

Jones’ introduction to SymNet technology was a happy accident. He explained, “I acquired a SymNet 8×8 DSP a few years ago after a church I had been working with went a different route. A while later, friends at a second church called me for help. They needed an impromptu PA system right away. I cobbled something together and, since the unit was just sitting there, I tied it all together with the 8×8 DSP. Two things were immediately apparent. First, programming the SymNet unit was much simpler than the units from the other big name manufacturers that I had been using. Second, it took a pitiful little PA and made it sound warm and amazing. I thought, ‘if SymNet can do this to a sorry old PA, it will shine in a well-composed conference room!’”

User control in the smaller rooms consists of SymNet ARC-SWK wall panels, with four push buttons and a knob. The buttons provide source select and, integrating other functions of other manufacturers, projector power. Predictably, the knob controls overall volume. In the larger conference room, a simple ARC-K1 knob controls volume from the podium so that presenters can make simple volume adjustments. All wall controls are powered by the SymNet ARC-PS, power supply unit.

For slightly more sophisticated control in the larger room (and of the four rooms combined for relief efforts) as well as in the boardroom, Jones turned to the AXIOMTEK GOT-5100T-830 Touch Panel PC. While any modern PC, touch panel or otherwise, will successfully run SymVue, SymNet’s programmable user interface program, the AXIOMTEK is available directly from SymNet and is fully vetted for the types of circumstances that SymNet systems are used.

In the large conference room, non-technical users have intuitive control over which computer or DVD inputs are active (switching video and audio sources), as well as volume control for each of the four wireless microphones. That same AXIOMTEK Touch Panel PC also gives Jones or other technical users control over room combining. The SymNet system communicates with an FRS CP 200 video switcher via RS-232 and a B&B electronics baud rate converter so that any input from any of the four rooms can be delivered to all four rooms in a coordinated way. An additional SymVue page on the AXIOMTEK Touch Panel PC gives Jones metering on all inputs for troubleshooting. The executive boardroom’s AXIOMTEK Touch Panel PC provides input select (again with video synchronization). Because it requires low voltage power, Jones was able to dress the unit’s power and data cables together so that the unit can be moved anywhere on the table.

In addition to all the straightforward uses of the system, Jones added ceiling mics to all of the rooms and relied on SymNet’s built-in ceiling mic algorithms and automatic gain control to quickly dial in favorable pickup. The ceiling mics allow instant recording of any event via a Marantz CD-R recorder in each room, as well as teleconferencing capabilities via SymNet’s built-in mix-minus algorithms and a JK Audio digital telephone hybrid.

“I really threw myself into the fire on this one,” remarked Jones. “I had never designed such a sophisticated system, and I was grateful to have SymNet’s fantastic technical support. I suspect most other people would have gotten sick of me and stopped taking my calls! But Symetrix stayed with me and walked me through every question.”

ABOUT SYMETRIX For over three decades, sound system designers, broadcasters and sound engineers have relied upon the performance, value and reliability of the Symetrix suite of audio routing and processing products.

Symetrix continues to set the benchmark in sound quality, and user-friendly control interfaces, while providing legendary reliability hand in hand with our commitment to non-stop innovation.

You’ll love the ease of doing business with our incredible team of audio and business professionals, who excel in their commitment to serve our customers at the highest level from start to finish, again and again.

Innovative Audio Routing and Processing Solutions – Engineered by Symetrix

For more information on professional audio products from Symetrix, SymNet, Lucid and AirTools please call (425) 778-7728 or refer to websites, www.SymetrixAudio.com, www.SymNetAudio.com, www.AirToolsAudio.com and www.LucidAudio.com.

The following terms are trademarks ™ of Symetrix Inc., Symetrix(tm), AirTools(tm), SymNet(tm), Lucid(tm), all rights to these trademarks reserved.


PHOTO CAPTION North American Mission Board (NAMB) AV engineer, Marty Jones chose SymNet DSP in conjunction with SymNet ARC wall panel interfaces and two AXIOMTEK GOT-5100T-830 Touch Panel PCs running custom SymVue user programs to handle the audio in the facility’s four main conference rooms. (PHOTO CREDIT: (c) John Swain)

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