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The Rebuilding Spirit
Facility Showcase, May 2010
Knowing the two areas of the building where sound and delivery of audio would be critical, Sampson designed studios adjacent to the tech center, making cable runs shorter and more efficient. To decrease the sound transmission, double walls were constructed between each studio with air space to attenuate the sound. Sound channel fabric and Acoustics First sound panels were strategically mounted throughout the studios to eliminate bounce. Overly acoustical doors and double-paned windows were mounted to keep the sound transmission at a minimum.
When laying out the studios, we determined it was necessary to have at least three microphone positions in each studio, and with limited space, this was tricky, but doable. Omnirax furniture got the nod to work on the project. They were able to customize the furniture based on our room dimensions, announcer positions, sound tolerances and ADA laws. Plus, we liked the variety of color options and materials to meet the aesthetics we desired. We had a number of conversations with Omnirax representatives and sent CAD drawings to the designers who built to our specifications. Once received, it took us a few days to piece everything together. You could tell that the furniture was the real deal as the weight of it going up three flights of stairs put even the strongest to the test. One counter top was damaged in shipping and Omnirax replaced it immediately with no hassles.
The broadcast tech center houses six Middle Atlantic equipment racks containing the audio servers for the main 90.5 channel, plus two additional HD Radio channels, 90.5 HD2 The Light, and HD3, El Fuego. The Light format is softer music and talk, while El Fuego is Catholic radio in Spanish. Due to the heat radiation from the equipment, we chose to go with two independent HVAC units, one for the offices and the other for the tech center and studios. Daiken High Efficiency VRV AC units were installed over the more traditional AC technologies. These VRV units allow compressor speed to vary with the heat load so the system only consumes the power necessary to match the load. When the heat load decreases the system automatically decreases the power supply frequency and uses less energy. The net effect has been that despite doubling our square footage and increasing our technical facilities by 1/3, our cooling costs have not risen.
In the old facility we had good luck with the Harris Impulse console, and chose Harris again, but this time stepping up to the NetWave consoles. Each studio was equipped with a networked console, running through an Envoy router housed in the tech room, thus eliminating the need for multiple cable runs and simplifying the cabling infrastructure. Two 25-pair CAT-5 cables were run to each room for phones and future considerations.
Flexibility is integral to the design of our new facility and is one of the main reasons we built it around the Harris Envoy system. With the aid of Broadcast Tools passive switchers each program chain can be fed by either a live studio, an audio server, an Envoy routed source or a designated backup studio. Any room can service any program chain or just act as an associated network studio.
With technology moving away from CD and more to digital storage and delivery, a change in our backup audio delivery was in order. After nearly 20 years of being a Denon CD facility, we migrated to the Tascam CD players, thus eliminating the jewel cases and freeing up space. Anyone need several thousand Denon jewel cases?
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