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MANISTEE, MICHIGAN – OCTOBER 2010: The Little River Casino in Manistee, Michigan opened its doors in 1999 and has been growing steadily ever since, both in popularity and size. Owned by the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, the casino and resort now boasts a 300-room luxury hotel, a 1,700-seat event center, a ballroom and conference center, three restaurants, and literally thousands of ways to win big, housed within 23,000 square-feet of gaming grandeur. Michigan-based Intaglio designed the Little River Casino’s original sound system. Five years later, Intaglio upgraded it with SymNet open-architecture processing to deliver greater flexibility and the capacity to auto-level. Recently, the casino called on Intaglio again to help keep pace with its ever-expanding grounds and a felt need for a better “vibe.” Intaglio’s CEO Kirk Grimshaw tripled the system’s SymNet complement, adding CobraNet interconnects to existing SymLink interconnects, and upgraded loudspeakers and amps throughout to deliver

greater fidelity and SPLs.

“There were many facets to the upgrade,” said Grimshaw. “In all of the spaces that were covered under the existing system, they wanted a few changes. First, they wanted more punch and greater fidelity. For that, we needed to retrofit the amps and speakers. Second, they wanted the existing zones subdivided so that they could link up digital signage with greater control. Third, they were so pleased with the SymNet auto-leveling that we had put in a few of the key zones, that they wanted even more areas to benefit. In addition, the casino had grown, and there were several new areas, including a winter garden and a courtyard for weddings, that needed to be covered.”

To the system’s existing five SymNet units, Grimshaw added four new 8×8 DSP units, four BreakIn12s, and four BreakOut12s. Because several of the units are located at quite a distance, the new system incorporates both SymLink and CobraNet interconnects. “For example, we have one SymNet CobraNet box that does nothing but bring wireless microphones in,” said Grimshaw. “That box is 360 feet from the main processors. The ballroom and convention center are also CobraLinked to the main processors. The SymLink and CobraNet protocols work together seamlessly within the SymNet architecture.”

Grimshaw used SymNet SymVue to build an intuitive interface to control the gigantic system. He integrated a floor plan into the interface so that the operator can easily control zone characteristics by referencing their location within the facility. Notably, any input can be routed to any output. The SymNet system interacts with the casino’s digital signage servers so that, for example, a commercial playing on a screen will play appropriate audio, while a screen only a short distance away can show something else entirely. To ensure a professional ambience, each of the casino floor’s twenty-three zones employs automatic volume control.

“With the possibility of routing any input to any output, the casino is no longer constrained with respect to the size of the events it hosts,” said Grimshaw. “They can page specific locations or combine rooms in any way they see fit. In addition to the usual candidates, like combining meeting rooms or the new wedding areas, they can combine parts of the casino floor to coordinate tournaments. Best of all, they can harness all of that power very easily with the SymNet SymVue interface.”

Throughout, Intaglio removed the existing loudspeakers and replaced them with higher fidelity models, tapped at a higher power. The main ceiling speaker is now JBL’s new Control 47. The performance area was similarly upgraded with JBL’s VRX-series line array components. Racks of new I-Tech amps from Crown not only deliver clear and abundant power, but also allow the casino to monitor the system to fix problems before they make themselves apparent. Twenty-one zones now rely on SymNet’s advanced auto-leveling to deliver ideally-audible content across the huge range of ambience that spans a Monday morning at 9 am to a Saturday night at 10 pm. Even the parking lot benefited from Intaglio’s work. Horns were replaced with full-range JBL units. “Now you have a full-frequency vibe that starts from the moment you open your car door,” laughed Grimshaw.

Regarding the sheer size of the Little River Casino’s upgraded audio system, Grimshaw was grateful to have SymNet Designer programming software: “Despite the system’s complexity, I was able to compartmentalize each function and build modular patches. So it was really quite manageable. With a system this big,” he professes, “I have to have fun with it. Otherwise, it’s too easy to lose your mind in the details!”

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