State-of-the-Art Technical Studio for Research, Teaching & Performance

Overview

R&W was engaged by the Royal Northern College of Music to design, install and commission the UK’s first Constellation System in education. The state-of-the art audio-visual system is designed to enhance the users holistic auditory experience by creating multiple sonic environments in one physical space.When we consider ‘immersive technology’, we think about technology that replaces or expands the physical world by the creation of 360 space, allowing users to look in any direction and see content. The focus is typically on the user’s visual experience.The goal of this project was to address the user’s audio experience; specifically by designing a system that enabled the user to control sound within the space for a unique and immersive high-quality,real time audio experience. The work involved advanced system integration and innovative sound mapping for the development of a digitally-acoustic reverberation system.

Following detailed research and acoustic testing,we were tasked with achieving an NC-20 rating inthe space, to ensure optimum system performance.To achieve the required level of audio control, we acoustically treated the space to remove the rooms natural acoustic/reverberance and create a ‘real’ reverberation time of less than 0.25s. We introduced low-latency remote communication technology to deliver broadcast-level audio and video at less than 50ms.The studio features acoustically transparent fabric walls and ceilings, 70 custom-made acoustic diffuser panels, 20 wall speakers, 16 ceiling speakers,8 sub-woofers, 20 flown microphones, 11 customised facility panels, 3 control processors, 2 lighting processors, 5 audio processors with 18 audio DSP’s,a layer 3 stacked network topology 40GB backplane and WiFi5 mesh distribution for control, wireless presentation and audio and video over IP routing.

By using in-house developed custom-built software in conjunction with advanced system integration of high-quality AV hardware, we transformed both the audio and visual experience in the space. The design features architectural and performance lighting including ambient, low-light LED and circadian lighting; all controlled through a central control system. We designed the system to enable users to control audio levels, sound mapping, audio routing,lighting, video signal distribution, displays and video content, cameras, live-streaming, power routing, HVAC, and more…in any orientation, with easy-to-use pre-sets at the touch of a button from anywhere in the space. Constellation integrates high-quality loudspeakers, microphones, digital processing, patented algorithms, and specialist techniques to create a marriage of sound and architecture.

We worked closely with audio equipment manufacture, Meyer Sound Laboratories who have described this project as

“a showcase for R&W’s excellent; and… a spotlight on the exciting teaching, research and artistic applications…”.

We took a digital approach to controlling reverberation time, early reflections, and other key ingredients vital to the sonic clarity, warmth,and resonance of a space by seamlessly integrating Constellation into the College’s performance studio environment as part of R&W’s larger audio-visual solution. In addition to the advances in technology and quality of design and installation, this project facilitated an exceptional use of real estate and provided a benchmark for HE technical infrastructure and audio-visual facilities.