Posted on September 18th, 2017
NOVA Entertainment’s capital city offices across Australia are always abuzz with activity. With an array of entertainment ventures operating from these offices, including the broadcasting of radio stations such as, the Nova Network in five states, smoothfm (Sydney and Melbourne), FIVEaa (Adelaide) and Star 104.5 (Gosford), to say that there is never a dull moment is an understatement. Since its inception in 2001, NOVA Entertainment has been on the leading edge of the radio industry. The business has continued to expand and mature over the years and it has come to be known as one of Australia’s leading entertainment companies.
Therefore, when it was necessary to upgrade the office PA systems, not just any ‘out-of-the-box’ solution would do. A business that is so focused on audio communications needed something special. The office required a customised, high quality and reliable system that would be there as this entertainment company moved into the future.
For the previous decade, NOVA entertainment’s capital city offices were using the Klotz Varizone digital PA system to deliver zone-able audio.
NOVA Entertainment’s Technology Manger, John Pearce explained the company’s needs; ‘In our radio businesses, there are a number of audio signals that need to be continually monitored; certain signals are relevant to certain staff or physical locations around each building. For example, multiple radio station signals in both pre and post profanity delay.’
He went on to say; ‘With the degree of control possible through Varizone and its ability to interface directly with our Klotz audio routing system, it was an easy step to make back then. When it came time to replace this system, we didn’t need any encouragement to remain with a product that, at a minimum, provided the same level of control.’
That is where tm stagetec systems came in with the digital PA system. Using the latest technology, digital PA systems take intercom and public address to the next level. This superior quality audio system is completely networkable, easily customised and able to operate on any scale.
From a straightforward system design with one speaker, through to configurations involving many speakers; digital PA provides the basis for so many different audio system applications. NOVA Entertainment took advantage of some of the outstanding features of digital PA systems including the ability to have an individual volume control for speakers, the capacity to play different audio in different zones and the completely configurable nature of the system. With the added benefit of being highly intuitive for users to operate, including from web, mobile and tablet interfaces, digital PA was the right fit for NOVA Entertainment.
Mr Pearce was involved in the selection process for the digital PA system; ‘The NAM digital PA system was selected as it provided the ultimate in flexibility. Each NAM in our system drives 4 x speakers. Each of those speakers has its own level control and its own source assignment. That means that zones can be expanded and contracted with speed and precision, and there are no limits with regards to the number of zones we have. Each speaker can be assigned any source on the Dante network, meaning that every speaker can be its own zone if necessary providing even greater flexibility than the Klotz product which had a limited number of channels.’
‘The other key benefit is control. Each speaker can be level controlled individually and tuned to the space. Something much more difficult with legacy 100V line systems.’
NOVA Entertainment’s digital PA system included the use of both Network Amplifier Modules (NAM) and Dante™ Input / Output (DIO) devices. Each NAM has 4 x 12 Watt RMS class D amplifier channels, an Ethernet switch, as well as built-in DSP (EQ, FIR, delay and gain). Each amplifier has an individual Dante™ input allowing for simple zoning and future changes.
The DIO devices used also offer an impressive range of tools and converters. DIO’s have a 2 port Ethernet switch (1 x 1Gb Copper and 1 x SFP cage), Dante™ audio, AES Input and Output, Mic Input, Line Input, Line Output, Headphone Output with external volume control and 2 x GPIO. The DIO is powered by PoE (Power over Ethernet) or runs via an external PSU. Redundancy is provided between both power sources.
An important consideration for NOVA Entertainment was how the digital PA systems would work in practice, how they would be installed, configured and operate in each of the capital city offices. There was a need to configure the system in two different ways, a challenge that the digital PA system could most certainly meet.
Mr Pearce further explains how this was achieved; ‘We operate the NAM digital PA system throughout all areas of our buildings. From studio sound lock areas, reception spaces, general office areas, bathrooms and hallways. The system connects back to our Dante Ethernet network in one of two ways;
1. In our Brisbane site, due to the design of the building, it was much more convenient to create a number of ‘strings’ of NAM’s connected in chain off a central switch. This was done using the integrated Ethernet switch in each NAM to allow cascading.
2. In all other sites nationally, each NAM is connected directly back to our central Dante Ethernet switch in a star design.’
‘In order to feed the network with audio sources from our legacy Klotz routing system, we connected a MADI fibre from Klotz into a MADI<>Dante™ bridge allowing us 64 channels of bi-directional audio between the two systems. We use both the Solid State Logic and Focusrite bridges in our network.’
For digital PA, one of its most sought after features is its ability to integrate seamlessly and be customised to fit into individual systems to meet specific business needs. This is certainly something that makes the NOVA Entertainment systems in each capital city a great example of what digital PA is capable of.
The ease of operation is another important feature of digital PA. However, when questioned on how the digital PA system was for staff at NOVA Entertainment to operate Mr Pearce had an interesting take, ‘The beauty of the system is that it rarely needs to be ‘operated’, a good month is when we forget it’s there because it keeps on running with flawless audio. The design saw us take the original Klotz zone audio mixes and feed them into the Dante network, so no new controls were required. On the odd occasion that a change needs to be made, such as a speaker level change or a speaker zone reallocation, a combination of the Dante™ Controller and the web interface of the relevant NAM provides simple management, statistics and control.’
And for the final word on this we would like to hand over to Mr Pearce, when asked for an overall comment on the digital PA system, he simply stated, ‘We’d buy it again’.