Simon Yapp Head of Audio Visual and Sound at Glyndebourne Opera House and his colleague Keith Benson Head of Lighting needed to find a solution to replace the Opera Houses old paging system, which had become unsupportable. The new solution was required to not only replace the original paging system with 16 zones but offer increased flexibility without throwing away the existing cable infra-structure and speaker system all of which were still serviceable.
Due to the issues of support for the old system, a key factor was that the system would have ongoing support for the future. â€˜Glyndebourne is famous for high quality productions and we required a solution to our communications problems of equally high quality. As a long-term user of the RTS Two-wire intercom system, Glyndebourne had experience of both RTS products and the support RTS offers. RTS is an established company we have come to trust so naturally we turned to them to see if they could provide us with an appropriate solution.' Simon contacted Adrian Richmond, UK Sales Manager for RTS Digital Intercoms.
Simon explains; "I had already priced a replacement analogue paging system but the costs were considerable however I soon realized on talking with RTS that their solution using a 24-port Cronus digital communications matrix was not only cheaper but would offer much more flexibility than the existing system."
The new installation had to provide the switching necessary for the paging and artist calls, relay closures plus five user stations:
It also had to accommodate two channels of RTS TW beltpacks for the production loops and interface with a Motorola radio system.
Simon details the connection requirements: “The main task I had was to design a simple semi permanent patch connection box which could adapt the Cat 5 RJ12 solid core cables over to either the existing older 25 core paging point cables or the multi stranded audio cables running to a new 16 way XLR loom connection to the amps.”
“You can see on the left here early progress during wiring of the new Connection box. The 16 black cables on the left are already connected to the Amps. More cables were then connected to the five paging panels and the six audio lines from the 2/4wire converters (SSA-324) for stage comms. Below this new box are the existing relays required to send 24VDC to over 300 relays in different offices during every paging call. They are controlled from the UIO-256 1RU Relay Unit.”
Simon continues: “To the right here you can see part of the new XLR loom connection to the existing amplifiers. To make the installation easier I had the loom and terminal box manufactured off site ready to be installed on site in under two hours.”
Simon was very enthusiastic about the project; “The installation was a joy because it was so simple, Telex/RTS provided me with all the information I required in advance so I could plan and prepare for the install. The switch over was achieved in only one week and we are now enjoying the benefits of a fully integrated flexible communications system with improved sound quality and I have saved over 30 rack units of space in the technical area.”
Simon details the system's debut performance: “On the left you can see the first rehearsal using the new KP-12 keypanel freshly installed into the prompt desk on stage. We used only six cores of the existing 25 way communication cable to link the KP-12 to the Cronus which removed the need for any new cabling having to be installed.”
“On the right you can see the new Sonifex compressor installed to supply the Cronus Matrix with a show relay audio feed. This is then routed to the entire building during an opera. Instead of adjusting the amps now we can simply Load up AZedit software and make adjustments to the system remotely.”
Everybody was pleasantly surprised when the system was first switched on as Simon explains; â€˜I was initially nervous as to what the audio quality might be like from such a small rack unit but when we switched over we were really impressed with the sound quality of the system everyone remarked on the difference.
Future plans include the installation of a Telex RadioCom BTR-800 2 channel fully duplex wireless system for the stage managers, this will give them â€˜In Ear Monitor' audio quality and intelligent switching between the production loop, front of house and artist call from one compact wireless beltpack. Additionally Simon is excited by the possibilities opened up by adding a RVON (RTS Voice Over Network) card to the Cronus. He sees the ability to run keypanels or feed audio over the Local Network as very useful plus it opens up the possibility of using â€˜Virtual Keypanels' as additional stations on the system. A Virtual Keypanels is software that uses a PC's sound card to create a keypanel on a computer screen.
The Cronus digital matrix is a modular system that can grow from 8 ports (Users) to 128 ports. It operates with 24-bit digital audio (better than CD quality) and is easily interfaced with external audio sources or systems to create a fully configurable intelligent communications system.
The KP-12 a keypanel (User station) with 12 keys and a led display to show the operator who is assigned to each key (Prompt Desk). The DKP-8 a desktop keypanel (User station) with eight keys and a led display to show the operator who is assigned to each key (Reception). The BKP-4 is a small lightweight desktop panel with four keys and a reply key (Studios and Rehearsal Rooms).
Photo Credit: Mike Hoban