As a teaching tool, the DMC’s audio systems are used to deliver classes about audio diffusion and immersiveness, using multiple speaker locations and surround mixes that are being used for cinema sound, but also have applications for video gaming, simulator applications and live entertainment.
Beck likens the facility to a giant set of headphones, able to deliver highly specific placement of audio elements in an open environment. The room’s sophisticated capabilities came with a cost: the DMC’s technology design, by Aston Taylor of HFP Acoustical, ran to $29.3 million.
But Beck says the university didn’t flinch, because the ultimate benefits were so far ranging. It used a bidding process to hire the integrator, Pro Sound and Video of Florida, and relied on the integration company and Meyer technicians to provide training in the systems’ use.
“We didn’t have expertise in this specific technology, but we do have expertise in the applications we were going to use it for,” Beck explains. That formed the basis for the design, with the consultant taking into account the school’s various needs, such as adding 24 channels of AES digital audio and 24 channels of analog audio for a wider range of inputs, and configuring the systems to accommodate a broad range of users, from film and audio synthesis students to third-party meetings clients.
“The single biggest challenge was the training,” says Beck.
Meyer’s technicians held training sessions last October, just before the venue officially opened. They taught students, staff and faculty on the Constellation system in particular. The audio/acoustical needs of various applications of the system and the space, such as meetings or music concerts, were determined and then built into scripts — control system macros that can configure the appropriate system parameters for each use. That process remains ongoing.
Beck says that the management team tries to meet once a week to fine-tune the scripts as they gain more experience and familiarity with the systems.
As much as the DMC is a work in progress, as any university lab really is, it’s also quickly become a point of academic pride for the school. “We are giving our students access to the most advanced technologies, so when they graduate they can move them into the commercial mainstream,” beams Beck. “We have the technology to do it right now, and we’ll let everyone else catch up to us.”