Hayden Laboratories, exclusive UK distributors for Rane Corporation products, has supplied a Rane ECS-Engineered Conferencing System, with automatic mic mixers, to the Co-operative Wholesale Society (CWS) HQ boardroom in Manchester. The installation was undertaken by locally-based Akwil Projects. The site is on the 13th floor of a 1960s tower block in Corporation Street, downtown Manchester, overlooking the MEN Arena, Granada TV Studios and Boddingtons Brewery. The boardroom is an interesting space consisting of a square boardroom with listed internal d├ęcor and ceiling. The room’s major acoustic challenge was presented by the listed ceiling which has multiple early reflections. Eddie Akka of Akwil Projects, who also installed the original SR system in the same boardroom 20 years ago, was called in to specify a 21st century system. Eddie consulted various suppliers and asked them to assist in producing the definitive design for a new SR System, which had to be simple and automatic in use. Ian Downs of Hayden Laboratories produced a practical system design and specification that not only fulfilled all CWS’s requirements but also left plenty of headroom for the development of future technologies, as CWS were keen to harness the potential of Video Conferencing – as well as high quality audio - via the new SR system.

To improve the system’s intelligibility and gain, ceiling-mounted speaker coverage was divided into six zones using a Rane SRM66 matrix mixer, Rane GE215 Graphic equalisers and a Rane MA6s six-channel amplifier. The heart of the system is the Rane ECB62 ECS base unit, which controls the six ECM82 eight-channel automatic microphone mixers. The installation controls 35 Audio Technica AT815 gooseneck microphones, some with user-mute switches. The Program system was updated by the installation of a Denon DN-T620 CD/cassette machine, a Sony VCR, Sony U-Matic and PC playout via a Rane MLM82A Mic/line mixer, and a Denon PMA100M amplifier to feed the Jamo full-range speaker cabinets. The system was set-up by Akka and Downs using RaneWare software, with backup stored offsite. CWS were impressed by simplicity of user controls - the entire system is operated by one power switch, and the only time an operator is required is for program playback. The client was equally impressed by the clarity and natural sound of the installation.


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