RAPID CITY, SOUTH DAKOTA: In addition to providing a top-tier education to 2,300 students, the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, or “Mines” for short, provides the venue for the Rapid City Area Chamber of Commerce’s Legislative Crackerbarrel sessions. They allow the public to voice its concerns and ideas with the local governing bodies. The Crackerbarrel sessions and several of the Mines’ larger lecture classes take place in the main auditorium of the New Classroom Building. Built in the mid-1990s, the auditorium seats seven hundred in a pie-shaped, multi-tiered room that can be divided via an air-wall into two 350-seat rooms. After two failed attempts to supply the large room with an intelligible, easy-to-use sound reinforcement system, local A/V integrator Haggerty’s Audio Visual supplied the master stroke. The new system centers on Symetrix’ new Jupiter “zero learning curve” processor with a pair of Symetrix ARC-2 wall panel remotes that
allow users to intuitively combine rooms and control volume.
As one well-established arm of Haggerty’s Musicworks, a Rapid City fixture for over fifty years, Haggerty’s Audio Visual is led by thirty-year A/V veteran Steve Foudray. “No one was very happy with the sound system in the auditorium,” Foudray explained. “The intelligibility was poor and the user interface to combine rooms and control volume was less than intuitive. A few years in, the school bit the bullet and overhauled the sound system, but insufficient speaker coverage and arcane interface technology provided no relief.”
Foudray approached the problematic system with the right blend of muscle and nuance. He provided four inputs per side in such a way that all eight inputs would be available when the room was combined. Two wireless microphones, four XLR jacks for wired microphones, and two line-level jacks give the system the requisite flexibility without overwhelming users with unnecessary choices. A Symetrix Jupiter 8 hardware unit provides eight inputs and eight outputs. An Electro-Voice CPS2.9 amplifier powers a sufficiently-distributed armada of Electro-Voice Evid C4.2 ceiling speakers.
The Symetrix Jupiter is a new concept in audio processing. Inspired by smartphone technology, where a single hardware device can take on any number of functions via easy-to-install software “apps,” the Jupiter hardware units adapt to the myriad specific functions called for by the vast number of specific situations faced by sound professionals and novices alike. Users select and download apps (from among a rapidly growing list of over sixty) using a well-organized App Finder utility at Symetrix.co. For the auditorium at Mines, Foudray used an Automix App, which easily handled the mixing, room combining, and input and output conditioning required.
To give control of the system to users, none of whom could be assumed to have any technical training, Foudray used two Symetrix ARC-2 wall panel remotes, one per side. “I like the ARC-2 because I can label every control within the display, avoiding external labels,” said Foudray. Control is restricted to those aspects of the system that must necessarily be addressed by the user: room combine/uncombine and volume. Where needed, users can also change the volumes of specific inputs.
“The Jupiter is a perfect niche product for medium-sized installations,” said Foudray. “It’s easy to set up from the integrator’s standpoint and easy to connect to customized control systems, including Symetrix’ own ARC wall panel remotes. Despite a very attractive price tag, it still has a lot of DSP horsepower. For example, I was able to tune the room at Mines using parametric filters and still have 31-band graphic EQs if necessary. I would normally avoid those because they potentially cost a lot of unused processor time, but the Jupiter had plenty of power to spare. I’m confident that the Jupiter is going to find its way into all of our small and medium-sized installations in the future.”
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