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SOUTH BEND, INDIANA – SEPTEMBER 2010: Holy Cross College in South Bend, Indiana delivers what many would consider the ideal undergraduate experience. Its deliberately small size, religious underpinnings, and focus on real-world, applied skills make Holy Cross alumni uniquely qualified to successfully navigate the challenges of modern life. As part of its effort to provide a well-rounded experience, the college recently completed a new recreation center, christened the Pfeil Center. As the largest meeting space on campus, the center not only provides modern amenities for Holy Cross’ indoor sports and student recreation, but also hosts large events, such as welcome and graduation ceremonies. By using a Symetrix Automix Matrix 780 signal processor with Symetrix ARC wall panels, northern Indiana A/V designer/installer Last Pew Sound Engineering delivered a tremendously flexible, intuitive and affordable sound reinforcement system for the Pfeil Center that elegantly accommodates its many functions.

The system is comprised

of eight zones: one for the walking track that encircles the center, two for stereo coverage of the bleachers, one for dedicated press feed, and four for strategic areas of the main floor. Crown CDi Series amplifiers power sixteen Atlas PM8GD eight-inch pendant mount speakers distributed around the running track, eight ElectroVoice ZX1i eight-inch loudspeakers for the bleachers, and twelve JBL Control 322C high-power twelve-inch ceiling loudspeakers for the main floor. The Symetrix Automix Matrix 780 orchestrates appropriate routing to all of those zones and provides all input and output signal conditioning for sound quality that is remarkably intelligible and vivid.

“There are a few reasons that we like the Symetrix Automix Matrix 780 and the other devices from the Symetrix Integrator Series,” said John Lindstedt, sound designer at Last Pew. “First, the simplicity of programming is unrivaled, which makes for robust, quick installations. Second, across the many facilities in which we’ve placed them, we have yet to experience one failure. In fact, on more than one occasion our clients have suffered lightning strikes and even when a lot of other units went down, our Symetrix gear kept on working like nothing happened. Lastly, the support from Symetrix is without peer. We’re never abandoned, and the Symetrix technical support staff are not only willing to answer questions they know the answers to, but also to figure out new solutions to unique challenges.”

System inputs include background music via CD, flash card or iPod, a Shure wireless system for assemblies and sports announcements, and a small mixer for fine-scale human control during basketball games. User control is accomplished via several Symetrix ARC-2i wall panels. They provide input selection, volume, and, most importantly, zone configurations for different event types. Each preset is given a number, and Lindstedt provided a sheet with simple descriptions of each preset. “There were two advantages to the Symetrix ARC wall panels,” he said. “First, the recreation center doesn’t have any dedicated technical staff, so the simplicity of the ARC-2i interface was critical. Second, the college brought us on board when the building was already half-completed and conduit runs were already established. The ARC wall panels only require a single CAT5, which was easy to incorporate into the existing layout.”

The various presets change the entire structure of input and output gain throughout the eight zones. For example, shortly after it was installed, the Holy Cross Saints basketball team was hosting a rival when a snowstorm brought South Bend to a standstill. Because the opposing team had made it before the storm unleashed, they still played the game, but very few fans were in attendance. “We anticipated that sort of thing and included a preset that shuts down all zones except those that are required,” said Lindstedt.

He continued, “There are similarly appropriate settings for press conferences, announcements, graduation ceremonies, and the like. For example, at commencement, they use a preset that turns off the zone right above the podium so that the system delivers abundant gain with no threat of feedback. Another colorful use of the system is ‘theme night’ for Holy Cross Village retirement community across the street. The residents use the track for walking and the center plays, for instance, only 50s music. The preset for theme night turns everything off except the track to avoid the overly-reverberant sound that is so often associated with gyms.”

With the Pfeil Center completed, Holy Cross – formerly a junior college, but now a four-year college – has begun a new tradition of graduating students from its main floor. “This was the first year that they didn’t have to put a restriction on the number of invitees,” observed Lindstedt. “They filled the place, which was wonderful. From my standpoint, the greatest rewards were all the great comments they received on how nice the ceremony sounded. The most common remark was that the attendees never knew a gym could sound so good!”

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PHOTO CAPTION Symetrix Automix Matrix 780 handles the audio for eight zones in the new Pfeil Center at Holy Cross University, South Bend, Indiana.