Baton Rouge, LA â€“ May 2010â€¦ The Louisiana State Capital, which houses the Louisiana State Legislature, the governor's office, and parts of the executive branch, is a national historic landmark. Completed in 1932, the 34-story, 450-foot Alabama limestone-clad skyscraper is decorated with sculpture representing the Stateâ€™s history and is the tallest capitol building in the United States, the tallest building in Baton Rouge, and the seventh-tallest building in Louisiana. The Louisiana State Capital is presently undergoing a multi-phase upgrade of its audio-visual facilities and, as part of this effort, numerous microphones from Milford, NH-based Earthworks Inc. are being deployed.
NBTA Engineers, Inc. of Baton Rouge, an engineering consultancy that designs audio-visual, telecommunications, and security systems, was contracted to handle the design and specification of the buildingâ€™s extensive electronics upgrade. As microphones are critical elements in this type of installationâ€”not only for sound reinforcement, but also for recording/documentation purposesâ€”NBTAâ€™s design team took a long, hard look at the manner in which the microphones are typically used. Trez Traylor, President of NBTA Engineers, discussed the challenges they encountered.
â€œDuring our observations of both the Senate and the House of Representatives, Traylor explained, â€œwe quickly realized that, unlike professional entertainers, many of the men and women had littleâ€”if anyâ€”real experience using microphones. Some people would hold the mic against their chest as they spoke while others would look down at their paperwork without taking into account the placement of the microphone. The result was extremely inconsistent sound quality and audio levels, making it quite challenging to hear what was being said. For this reason, we knew that off-axis microphone performance was critical if we were to improve the situation.â€?
â€œSimilarly,â€? he continued, â€œwe needed to find microphones that were easy to use, could be positioned at the optimum height, and in some cases, provided visual feedback as to their on/off status. We quickly realized we were looking at a situation that required customization. After identifying the most promising microphone models, we spoke with a number of manufacturers. In short order, we selected Earthworksâ€”both for the performance of their microphones as well as for the companyâ€™s responsiveness and flexibility in terms of addressing our requirements.â€?
The first phase of NBTAâ€™s Louisiana State Capital Audio â€“ Video Systems Upgrade called for 114 Earthworks SR25 microphones and 46 of the companyâ€™s popular FlexMic models. For the SR25â€™s, the Earthworks engineering team customized the microphonesâ€™ sound for handheld applications, used a lighter metal to better facilitate comfort while holding the microphones, and also used an anodized finish to ensure greater durability. Additionally, the modifications called for 40 â€˜screw-onâ€™ windscreens. The Earthworks FlexMic, which is being used for tabletop applications, was customized with a special, extended boom length and had LED light rings incorporated into the tip of the microphones to indicate on/off status. Ford Audio-Video, a well known integration firm with numerous offices throughout the United States, handled the actual installation.
The Earthworks microphones are installed throughout both chambers of the Louisiana State Capital as well as in committee rooms. Traylor commented on the microphones applications, â€œTo ensure the greatest ease of use, we have the SR25 handheld microphones connected via a special assembly that automatically retracts the microphone cable back into the desk. This keeps cable clutter to an absolute minimum while the mics are in use and effectively hides the cable the moment it is put down. The FlexMics, which are positioned on lecterns and all other permanent positions at the front of the two chambers, connect directly into a flush mounted XLR connector on the surfaceâ€”creating a clean look and providing easy to adjust positioning.â€? Biamp Audia and QSC Q-Flex networked audio processing and management systems provide DSP functionality and a Crestron automation system integrates the microphones with other equipment.
Before turning his attention to other matters, Traylor commented on Earthworksâ€™ customer and technical support services and its impact on the Louisiana State Capital project. â€œEveryone at Earthworks has been a pleasure to do business with,â€? he said. â€œThe company has a real â€˜can doâ€™ attitude and they delivered the equipment right on schedule. I was impressed with the companyâ€™s understanding of what we were looking to accomplish and of their willingness to provide mockup products during the evaluation stage. Weâ€™ve been very pleasedâ€”both with the performance of the equipment as well as the companyâ€™s ability to take on custom projects. As we complete this first phase of the Louisiana State Capitalâ€™s audio-visual renovation, weâ€™re now looking at the second phase, which involves roughly eleven more committee roomsâ€”each with anywhere from 15-25 microphones. Rest assured, weâ€™re planning on bringing Earthworks back for the next round!â€?
For additional information about NBTA Engineers, Inc., contact the company at 225-761-1112.
About Earthworks, Inc.
Earthworks is a New Hampshire, U.S.A. based manufacturer of High Definition Microphones that is dedicated to quality and sonic excellence. Each Earthworks product is handmade with great care, meticulous attention to detail, and a strong emphasis on quality. Earthworks prides itself in making only the very best in professional audio equipment intended for mission critical sound applications. For additional information, visit the company online at www.earthworksaudio.com.