GUELPH, ONTARIO, CANADA - MAY 2011: The Weinstein Group is an A/V installation and event production company located in Fergus, Ontario, and its owner, Michael Weinstein commands a broad and deep knowledge of the many facets that go into a successful A/V installation or event. Over the decades that he has been building, tuning, and fixing A/V systems, Weinstein has observed that most systems go awry not through any fault of their own. Rather, it is the busy fingers of employees with just a little bit of A/V knowledge (a dangerous thing, you may recall) attempting to make "improvements" that are anything but. Recently, Weinstein has had great success "finger-proofing" his A/V designs at famed Langdon Hall Country House Hotel & Spa in Cambridge, the University of Guelph's University Club, and the city's Victoria Road Recreation Center using Symetrix' new Jupiter-series of "zero learning curve" DSPs.
With only fifty-two
exquisite guest rooms and a fine dining restaurant that last year was named one of the San Pellegrino top 100 restaurants in the world (the world!) by Restaurant Magazine, Langdon Hall Country House Hotel & Spa is an upscale establishment that clearly prizes quality over quantity. But set against such perfection, Langdon Hall wrestled with a dirty little secret for years before Weinstein came through with a solution. "Because the music they played in the restaurant and throughout the common areas of the hotel varied so much in its perceived loudness, the staff was forever turning it up or down too much," said Weinstein. "For example, they would have a lovely violin concerto come on and the staff would say, 'that's too quiet!' So they would turn it up. But then the next piece would be a strident piano etude, and they would overcompensate in the other direction."
The advent of the ubiquitous "normalize" function on mp3 devices and software did little to help Langdon Hall's troubles. "I just don't think the consumer-grade normalize algorithm was prepared to deal with the kind of dynamic range that Langdon Hall was presenting," said Weinstein. "No, the true fix came with the Symetrix Jupiter, which allowed me to very intuitively and very powerfully adjust the automatic gain control to work with the hotel's program material. An additional - and critical - component of the solution is that none of the staff can make any adjustments. That's a feature that I promote very heavily to managers." In addition to the new Jupiter 8 (which provides eight inputs and eight outputs), Weinstein added two new mp3 players, a new mic input, and a new auxiliary line-level input. To transform the Jupiter hardware into the perfect software for Langdon Hall, Weinstein downloaded the "Sound Reinforcement #9" app from the Symetrix website.
The University Club at the University of Guelph is a private dining facility for faculty members, and it had a related problem. To begin with, its audio system was horribly outdated and suffering from coverage issues. "The old system was centered on a combination mixer-amp that was driving an insufficient number of general-contractor-grade tin speakers that could have been at least thirty years old," said Weinstein. "But age was only part of the problem. It was also a finger issue. The mixer-amp presented ten knobs of various functions to would-be improvers in a dark cabinet behind the bar. No one knew how to use it, and worse, no one could appreciate the fact that no amount of knob twiddling was going to fix the coverage issue." In a well-intentioned, but utterly misguided effort to improve the situation, the staff invariably made it worse.
Weinstein gutted the old system and replaced it entirely with an appropriate number of high-fidelity EAW CIS80 and SMS-1990 ceiling speakers powered by new QSC amplifiers. In place of the old (and tempting) mixer, he installed a Symetrix Jupiter 4 (which provides four inputs, four outputs, and zero temptations) running the "Sound Reinforcement #4" app. With the power of the Jupiter processor and the simplicity of a Symetrix ARC-2i wall-panel remote, Weinstein was also able to deliver much more sophisticated (yet simple) zone and volume control to the actual users of the system.
The most popular draw at the City of Guelph's Victoria Road Recreation Center is its well-used indoor dual pool facility, which is available for recreational swimming and a range of aqua-fitness classes. The high-ceiling room houses a loudspeaker centered for each pool for background music or fitness leader instructions. An old mixer, wasted from the humidity and chlorinated air, served the decades-old system with increasing unreliability. "They called me in fairly regularly," recalled Weinstein. "But despite the age of the system and the challenging environment, most of the time it was human error. For example, I'd get called in because the system had become 'super boomy,' only to find that someone had cranked the gain to +10dB on the low-end parametric EQ."
Weinstein brought the system into the 21st Century with an all-new iPod docking station, a wireless headset, and a wireless handheld mic. He even updated their CD player and, yes, cassette tape player (some Aqua-fitness instructors figure, if it ain't broke, don't try to teach an old dog new tricks!). A Symetrix Jupiter 4 combined with a Symetrix ARC-2i wall-panel remote provides all of the necessary control options... and nothing more!
ABOUT SYMETRIX Sound professionals rely upon the performance, value and reliability of audio mixing, routing and processing products from Symetrix. For more information on Symetrix professional audio products, please visit www.symetrix.co or call +1.425.778.7728.
PHOTO CAPTION Langdon Hall Country House Hotel & Spa was one of the establishments that benefitted from Symetrix' new Jupiter-series of "zero learning curve" DSPs.