Leeds Trinity University
In Spring 2016, Leeds Trinity University put out a tender to update their ageing broadcast radio and journalism facilities, we knew it was a project we wanted to tackle. The brief was to convert their existing studios to a digital audio over IP solution, refresh the look of the studio woodwork whilst maintaining the main framework and upgrade to the latest Myriad playout system. Challenge accepted!
This is what the Leeds Trinity University studios looked like when we first visited the site. A very traditional setup with substantial 'U' shaped woodwork and a old but fully functional Sonifex Sovereign split mixing desk. There was also a large 'floating' equipment pod to the right which housed a lot of outboard audio gear they simply didn't use anymore. The brief was to to achieve the following:
- Replace old analogue desk with a digital audio over IP (AoIP) solution.
- Remove all unnecessary or unused audio equipment.
- Retain the basic woodwork but make it look a little more modern in some way.
- Add a screen based clock and tally signage system.
- Do the same in the second production studio.
- Link the two studios and the newsroom area so audio could be shared between them.
- Allow provision for future expansion and modernisation of a third existing studio (maybe next years project!)
And all of this had to be achieved on a reasonably tight budget and crucially within a three month time frame in order to allow the students to use the new equipment at the start of the new academic year.
If you are installing a studio into an empty room, it is a fairly straight forward process. Upgrading existing facilities, retaining some equipment and discarding other equipment requires a lot more thought and planning so the first stage of the project (having won the tender) was conduct a number of onsite surveys and consultations to ensure our solution covered everything and and the installation would go smoothly.
- Switching to the Axia iQ digital console platform.
- Supply new wooden tops for the existing woodwork to make it look more modern (and cover the holes from the old mixer).
- Remove all unnecessary equipment (which there was a fair bit).
- Add a new Myriad Playout system.
- Add a V-Clock signage system to each studio and the newsroom.
The starting point was to design the functional layout of each studio. Each piece of equipment was mapped to an input or output on the QOR.32 engine to ensure that everything was accounted for. The diagram also sketched out how the playout and signage PC's would connect to the system as well as the talkback system.
Functional diagrams were produced for each studio, the equipment in the newsroom area and of course the IT network. Once that was all agreed it was on with the installation.
First job was to remove all the old equipment ready for the new woodwork surface.
Once the old studio was gutted, it was time to fit the new work surface.
The new surface featured a blue inlay with beech wooden capping. It fitted well!
Next we started to fit in the new equipment.
The Axia iQ consoles are much smaller than the old mixer giving a far more open feeling to the studio. We also floated the PC monitors on articulated arms to further enhance the open feeling.
The customer opted for the split console configuration which worked well with the woodwork layout.
We re-fitted the old equipment pod but only included the equipment that needed which included a studio switcher (RB-OA3), ISDN, CD player and TBU (for phone calls)...and some blanks.
Next was Studio 2.
Studio 2 got similar treatment. The old woodwork was retained but with a new surface and an Axia iQ console was added (just one 8 fader frame this time).
All the equipment for Studio 2 was housed within the woodwork rack.
Each studio also had a screen based V-Clock system fitted which displayed time and tally information which warns the presenters when the microphones are active and which studio in live. This was connected to the new studio switching system.
Finally, they also had a newsroom area that they wanted to be able to listen to the studio output and contribute to the studios. In order to achieve this, we fitted an Axia xNode to the newsroom so that 'livewire' audio could be sent and received via standard CAT5 networking.
The newsroom also retained several pieces of equipment include the exiting ISDN unit. We also added a Barix Instreamer to encode their output for web streaming, this was fed from the new studio switching system.
All work was completed within the agreed budget & time frame and was ready for the students to start using following their summer break.
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