University of Sydney’s X-Lab connected with Symetrix and Dante
AUSTRALIA: Dante networking via Symetrix architecture is being used to deliver a highly focused method of medical science tuition at the University of Sydney. An instructional laboratory named the X-Lab is using the technology to facilitate ‘advanced live lecture streaming’, housing up to eight classes and 240 students at any one time. The 40m x 20m facility was installed with a complete A/V solution by Sydney-based systems integrator Fredon Technology.
Located in the university’s Charles Perkins Centre research and education hub, the X-Lab made news throughout Australia when it opened earlier in the year. The unique method of instruction employed within uses a multipoint distribution strategy based on a Dante network to create ‘a targeted, immersive, engaging and uninterrupted educational experience’.
Similar facilities have been known to stream live lectures to radio headsets. Instead, the X-Lab has been outfitted with hyper-directional loudspeakers positioned above each student station, all of which are served by the Dante network. The use of Audinate’s networking protocol marks a further departure for the University in that Cobranet is used elsewhere on the campus.
‘A Layer 2 protocol was not going to work in the X-Lab for a number of reasons, including channel count, latency and future-proofing,’ explained Fredon Technology general manager Nick Orsatti. ‘We very quickly decided that a Dante network was the right option.’
Digital signal processing for the system is handled by Symetrix’s Symnet Radius AEC, which was chosen for its high channel count capacity and built-in support for local echo cancellation of incoming Dante channels. Radius processors are located at eight instructional locations, each feeding a Symnet Edge processor that routes Dante audio to a central amplifier rack. The audio is then distributed to 45 loudspeaker zones. Additionally, Shure Microflex wireless microphones have been integrated into the X-Lab to establish flexible two-way audio paths between an instructor and an assistant, or between instructors and students.
‘It was essential to digitise audio as quickly as possible from the source – and keep it digitised all the way to the output, which is the amplifier rack driving the loudspeakers,’ explained the university’s technical manager, Paul Menon. ‘Dante is providing the scalability and modularity we require to achieve these goals, while playing a major role in the noise immunity across the various student benches.’
He added that the ‘installation was fast, cost-effective, and more importantly, delivered a very flexible solution. It is a dynamically switchable architecture with highly directional sound immersion and the user experience blows people away.’