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A virtual press conference from Sound & Video Contractor



SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 2010: It may never occur to some sound designers and acousticians that they are fundamentally land-locked, never to take their work beyond predictable foundations in clay to the romantic world of the open ocean. Not so for Alan Edwards, principal audio designer at Nautilus Entertainment Design, San Diego, California. Edwards wrote the book… er, peer-reviewed paper on the subject, “Audio System Design for Cruise Ships,” which appeared in the 110th volume of the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. Because of their flexibility, reliability, and well-thought out control options, Edwards now relies on Symetrix’ SymNet open-architecture DSP and interface solutions for many of his designs.

His most recent work was for sister ships Luminosa and Deliziosa, from the Costa Cruise Line. Both ships host 2,000 passengers. Amenities include a comprehensive spa facility, multiple outdoor pools and whirlpools, a variety of restaurants and bars featuring a wide range of fare, a foldout marina, and a selection of entertainment venues and lounges, including a 900-seat main showroom. Cruises of the Luminosa and Deliziosa range from one-week Caribbean stints to Mediterranean Cruises.

Designing audio systems for ships at sea magnifies many of the challenges of similar systems designed on land. For instance, as outlined in Edwards’ paper, ambient background noise on ships can reach 55 dBA or higher from engine vibrations and HVAC turbulence, placing a premium on properly distributing systems. In addition, ships tend to contain materials – glass, tile, and metal – that are notoriously problematic from an acoustical standpoint. Ships at sea also present logistical challenges not shared by their land-based counterparts. System usability and reliability become paramount, as it is not possible to simply drive over and show someone how to use something or replace a malfunctioning component. To address all of these issues, SymNet DSP units are now Edwards’ go-to solution.

For the Luminosa and Deliziosa, Edwards used the organizing principle of a broadcast DSP to simplify what are otherwise fairly complicated networks, relying on CobraNet to deliver common signal throughout the ship over cost-effective CAT5 cable. A SymNet Express CobraNet 12×4 DSP wrangles a number of input sources (local mp3, CD, etc. as well as satellite radio) for distribution throughout the ship.

Each venue shares a relatively uniform user control structure. SymNet ARC-SWK controllers, often redundantly located at several convenient locations, provide source selection and volume control. The ARC-SWK features four push buttons and a rotary knob that can control two continuous parameters (one with the knob pushed in and a second with the knob in its default position). Typically, three of the push buttons select input sources delivered from the broadcast DSP, whereas the fourth push-button is local. In its default position, the knob controls output volume. When pushed in, for instance, it controls the input volume of a local microphone.

“It seems to me that a lot of other DSP manufacturers focus all of their attention on the processing itself and leave the interface as an afterthought,” said Edwards. “It’s obvious that not only has Symetrix put their all into the processing, they’ve kept the interface options at the forefront while doing so. The ARC controllers work on the network and are flexible enough to be programmed in any way that makes sense for the end-user. Things can be redundant or not. The programmable colors of the LEDs adjacent to each push button open up a world of possibilities for intuitive user control. I am able to succeed in designing systems that anyone, not just an A/V tech, can control.”

Depending on the situation, Edwards employs SymNet’s other ARC interfaces to effect specific solutions. For example, a show relay system provides easy communication between front-of-house and backstage. “That way, the stage manager can communicate with the backstage actors and technicians,” said Edwards. “The ARC interfaces allow for XLR mic input along with push-button control for temporary, latch, or permanent communication. In addition, audio signal gets carried on the same CAT5 that connects the interface to the hardware processor, which greatly simplifies the installation.”

The addition of FIR filters to SymNet’s long list of processing modules has further simplified and elevated Edwards’ sea-worthy designs. “I recently did a string of retrofits for Holland-America ships,” he said. “They were redesigning the main showroom, and adding two Electro-Voice XLVC line to a newly-installed :ED video wall on the back deck. With the new SymNet FIR module, I was able to perfectly match the loudspeaker conditioning to Electro-Voice’s XLVC specifications. It brought the whole venue to life!”

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, 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.

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