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SymNet Provides City of Cupertino Civic Center With New Audio/Visual System

The City of Cupertino, Calif., plans for a new civic center were developed around the concept to marry city, community and public library functions into one modern, easily accessible, multiple-use complex.

Symetrix’ SymNet integrates multiple functions at City of
Cupertino Civic Center.

PHOTO CREDIT: Jim Thielemann, Ceitronics

The City of Cupertino, Calif., plans for a new civic center were developed around the concept to marry city, community and public library functions into one modern, easily accessible, multiple-use complex.

The state’s budget crunch required that the complex’s anchor facility, Cupertino Community Hall, feature a highly flexible, remotely controlled and easily manageable audio and video system—all within budget.

SymNet Audio Matrix, a modular audio mixing, routing and digital signal processing system from Symetrix Inc. was chosen as a fit for the center’s needs. The audio consultant on the project was San Francisco–based Charles M. Salter & Associates with Joey D’Angelo spearheading the project.

“In the days before DSP, this project would have required a lot more audio equipment and a lot more wire. If changes or additions needed to be made to configurations under an analog system of this type it would have involved ripping out wiring and adding a lot more components to the equipment rack,” says Jim Thielemann, project manager with Ceitronics, the San Jose, Calif.-based systems integrator that designed and installed the complex’ AV system. “Now most of that can all be done with a DSP box.”

Employing nine linked SymNet DSP hardware components (five 8x8s and four 8ins), Ceitronics was able to fashion an audio control matrix that gives Cupertino Community Hall the audio system setup required for a broad mix of uses. Providing the capability of routing up to 72 audio inputs to 40 outputs in a maze of possible configurations, SymNet helps the building’s public spaces to be used for everything from city government public meetings and community group meetings to wedding receptions and small musical and theatrical presentations.

In addition to a complement of fixed and wireless microphones, the hall integrates an array of ceiling and dais-based loudspeakers for program audio, VCRs, camcorders, an assistive listening system, an archival recording system and even fiber-optic cabling that ties into the city television station’s broadcast facility housed in the old, freestanding city hall.

“The space is designed to be very flexible, so there was a need for very flexible audio handling and preset audio configurations depending on how it’s being used,” Thielemann says.

Thielemann reports that, “The way in which SymNet handles audio presets was one of the factors that swayed us to the product. Unlike products from other manufacturers, SymNet allows you to have a preset on one small element of the matrix, rather than having to reset a big block of the matrix or an entire device’s worth of information. With some other equipment, you have to re-upload a whole block of data to change just one thing. With a single push of a button you can change as much or as little as you want.”

SymNet’s component flexibility was another reason Ceitronics specified the Symetrix product. The ability to build an audio matrix close to the exact needs of the system argued for a cost-effective solution that didn’t build in more capabilities than were needed.

“One criterion playing into our decision was that there were not many other audio DSP products that offered anything but components that had an equal number of inputs and outputs, ” says Thielemann. “In this project, we had a lot more inputs than outputs, so our thinking was why pay for more outputs than you need. The 8-inch boxes allowed us to do that. Some other products do offer the ability to import inputs or outputs but they don’t have as much DSP power as SymNet. We ended up using about 92 percent of the DSP power that was available. That’s a lot. When you chain this many units together you can have processing power issues.”

For all of its power and capabilities, SymNet also proved to be an economical choice. For city governments that are increasingly cash-strapped, the ability to save money on audio technology that still manages to deliver timesaving, state-of-the-art capabilities is a windfall.

“For what was needed, a system that required extreme flexibility and had a great deal of inputs and outputs, SymNet, with its cost-effective profile and large intercommunications bus capabilities, was the right choice,” he says. “Once you buy-in with SymNet you have a lot of added capability, and making changes to a system becomes a lot easier down the road.”

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