At a million square feet, the LEED-certified Oregon Convention Center is one of the biggest in the western United States. The $116 million, 407,500 sq. ft. expansion project demanded an AV system as flexible as the architecture itself. For example, the four exhibit halls and movable walls can be configured from 30,000 to 255,000 square feet of exhibit space. Over 100,000 additional square feet are divisible into 32 conference rooms and eight ballrooms. The new system had to integrate with the existing facility and 10-year-old system, and adapt to future needs.
Previously, major systems might include a networked component as a subsystem, but in this pioneering installation, the network is the system — a marriage of computer network and digital audio. The entire building is tied together over LAN, which enables the AV team to incorporate audio, video and control in any configuration. The system uses very little copper. It's all part of the networked media system, which makes any RJ45 data jack an A/V I/O.
Digital audio and control information comprise two primary networks. The audio component is based around Biamp's Audia system, which handles all signal processing and routing system-wide, and distributed over CobraNet® using QSC's RAVE. Control information is shared over standard Ethernet. Cisco switches tie all data ports together, allowing any port to take on any programmed function. Analog-to-digital transfer links the existing system to the new via fiber optics. The new system sees and distributes the old system as an audio source. Video patch bays and tie lines are built in to provide for easy connectivity.
Twenty-five custom portable rack boxes, equipped with analog I/O panels connected to Rane NM84 eight channel CobraNet transceivers, can be set up anywhere. QSC RAVE CobraNet transceivers provide additional I/O. The boxes feed digital audio to a matrix of 17 BIAMP Audia DSP devices, in 8 x 8, 4 x 12, and 12 x 4 configurations, which feed directly to an extensive 70V distributed system running a total of 27 QSC four-channel CX204V amps. A combination of almost 500 speakers handles the sound, based on area and usage.
To control the system, the Audia units are configured to define a setup and a zone of operation for every input and output. Portable and/or installed Crestron touch panels facilitate control from virtually anywhere in the venue, along with PC workstations and laptops. The Audia units' room combining features are used to create virtual "systems", with multiple Audia units in multiple locations, represented on a single screen. The Crestron units store thousands of cataloged presets and download chosen settings to the Audia units on demand. By pulling up a preset and sending it to the Audias, an AV tech can set up a room in minutes.
Biamp's close partnership with the consultants and integrators helped create many breakthroughs in flexible system design. The new Audia-based system saves resources and improves quality by eliminating "miles" of copper wire, as well as problems with ground loops and other noise. Audia allows for a single platform operating on a single network, with the potential to easily expand. The Convention Center's AV system is not only ahead of its time; it's also built for the future. For example, Audia's multiple levels of password protection allow new levels of access to be defined as the number of users grows.