Bryan Waters, MD and founder of Audace, explained that the HIC system required a larger number of output zones than A&H’s DR128 digital matrix could provide. "The first challenge was the need for a system of 16 zones. We wanted to provide the Centre with a single control system that would work with two of the Allen & Heath units." Waters, who professes a keen enthusiasm for the Cornish pro audio manufacturer’s products, set up Audace specifically to provide one-off solutions and off-the-shelf support products for the blossoming digital market. "When the DR128 was launched, there was nothing like it on the market for anything like the price - and there still isn’t," he enthused. "However, the software supplied with the DR128 is for set-up, rather than an operational programme. Our solution, which is part hardware, part custom software, allows non-technical operators (in this case the HIC’s team of receptionists) to control paging levels and zoning from a simple control panel, while technical staff have full access to the two DR128s for the Centre’s computer network."
The central paging panel, which was commissioned for this project, offers users a pre-selection of multiple paging zones, which combines with a push-to-talk microphone to provide access to the Centre’s nine halls, the foyer, backstage and technical areas. Output level to each of these may be set within limits, which are preset by technical staff. "One of our biggest problems until now has been the need for different levels in each room," explained production manager Andy Briggs. "The Centre can host up to four or five different events at the same time, and organisers expect to be able to have control over their room."
The system was supplied by LMC via the company’s Leeds branch. Andy Brooks oversaw the project: "I spoke to Allen & Heath about the concept, and they put us in touch with Bryan and Audace. The DR128 already has so many of the right features for installations, but for systems such as this there is an increasing need for non-technical operation." Bryan Waters added that this is only the tip of the iceberg: "One of the traditional boundaries has always been the number of outputs that a digital matrix can have. This removes that completely - the system is hugely scalable, and with custom or standard hardware can give the user an interface that they feel comfortable with."Mike Mann