Extron Delivers Wide-Ranging AV Capabilities at Châteauform’ in Italy

Châteauform’, “The Home of Seminars,” specializes in organizing business meetings and seminars in its venues throughout Europe – spacious homes, rustic farmhouses, and other properties that are transformed to combine the necessities of corporate meeting facilities with resort-style amenities in relaxing settings. One of the newest venues is La Cascina Erbatici, a rustic-style farmhouse in the Lombardy countryside of Italy. Châteauform’ wanted to equip the facilities at this venue with flexible AV presentation systems that accommodate a variety of sources, including guest devices. To fulfill these AV system requirements, integrator Sistemi di Comunicazione Multimediale – SCM, selected a range of Extron products and technologies, including XTP Systems®, TouchLink®-based control systems, audio digital signal processors, and amplifiers.

The XTP System was an ideal choice for its ability to maintain signal integrity over long distances and transmit video, audio, power, and also device control with just one twisted pair cable.

Alessandro Vella, Project Manager - SCM

AV Needs and Challenges

La Cascina Erbatici has numerous medium and small meeting rooms, as well as two flagship meeting rooms: the auditorium and a large multi-purpose room. The auditorium seats approximately 70 attendees, while the multi-purpose room accommodates 60 participants and is typically configured for small-group collaboration. These two meeting spaces were to include versatile, user-friendly AV systems that enable clients to connect their devices and deliver high resolution video presentations. Additionally, AV signals needed to be shared between the auditorium and multi-purpose room to allow for meeting overflow, or to play background music and slideshows in both rooms between meeting sessions. It was also essential for the audio systems to support a single presenter or multiple participants, quality reproduction of music and other program content, and conferencing applications.

One of the challenges was the exposed, open ceilings in the auditorium and multi-purpose room that limited the ability to discreetly pull cables for the projectors. In addition, the conduits and floor box locations were designed and installed prior to this upgrade, limiting the available space to pull cables for AV. An equipment room nearby provides ample space for housing the AV systems for both facilities, but cable runs of up to 70 meters are necessary to reach the sources and display devices in the meeting rooms.

Integrated AV Distribution and Transmission with XTP Systems

The integrator selected Extron XTP Systems to provide flexible video distribution for the auditorium and multi-purpose room, and to simplify the cabling infrastructure. The XTP System consists of an XTP CrossPoint 1600 modular 16x16 matrix switcher in the equipment room and several XTP transmitters and receivers in the meeting rooms. Each XTP transmitter and receiver connects to the XTP matrix switcher over one twisted pair cable to carry audio and high resolution video, thereby streamlining the installation. The XTP CrossPoint 1600 also remotely powers these transmitters and receivers over the same twisted pair cable, so fewer AC power outlets are needed in the rooms. Additionally, the matrix switcher can send RS-232 signals to the receivers over this cable, for controlling display devices. RS-232 signals are inserted into the XTP CrossPoint 1600 from the control system.

“The open areas and long hallways between the equipment room and the two main meeting rooms made wiring the AV equipment a challenge, especially with the layout of the rooms already defined,” says Alessandro Vella, Project Manager for SCM. “The XTP System was an ideal choice for its ability to maintain signal integrity over long distances and transmit video, audio, power, and also device control with just one twisted pair cable, allowing us to pull only one cable overhead and merely a few through conduit.”

Presenters typically use the resident PC or a guest laptop at the lectern, with content displayed using a projector. In the auditorium, an additional flat-panel display serves as a confidence monitor. Video, audio, power, and LAN connectivity are available at the lectern for the PC and guest devices. Connectivity is also provided at a few floor box locations for bringing in a podium. In this installation, AV source signals feed into the XTP transmitters in the lectern, each of which sends AV up to 70 meters over a twisted pair cable to the XTP CrossPoint 1600 matrix switcher located in the equipment room. Fortunately, the XTP System can send signals up to 100 meters if needed. The XTP CrossPoint 1600 provides AV switching and distribution for both the auditorium and multi-purpose room. Audio, video, and RS-232 control signals from the matrix switcher are sent to the XTP receiver above each room’s projector and behind the auditorium’s confidence monitor.

Robust Extron Audio Capabilities

The sound systems for both rooms consist of speech and program audio zones, fixed and wireless microphones, as well as a subwoofer for full-range music playback. The integrator selected an Extron DMP 128 C audio digital signal processor for each room to provide essential audio functions including mixing and routing, microphone automixing, equalization and tone controls, and AEC – acoustic echo cancellation for Web conferencing sessions.

Both DMP 128 C units were installed in the equipment room, and accept audio signals from the microphones in the meeting rooms, the wireless microphone receivers in the equipment rack, and source audio from the XTP System. The two digital signal processors are linked together via their expansion ports, which allows audio to pass between them. This provides the flexibility to share presentation audio and background music between the auditorium and multi-purpose room, and for clients to route wireless microphone signals between the two rooms when necessary.

SCM used Extron DSP Configurator™ Software to configure each DMP 128 C unit’s signal routing, processing, and AEC. The software enables the integrator to fine-tune the system in order to maximize performance. “The echo cancellation feature has been essential for Web conferencing and with DSP Configurator Software, we were able to quickly and easily make the precise adjustments to achieve the best possible audio quality in each room,” Vella says.

For amplifying voice and program audio content, the integrator chose the ENERGY STAR® qualified Extron XPA 2004 Four Channel Power Amplifier and XPA 2002-100V Two Channel, 100 Volt Power Amplifier, each with 200 watts output per channel. These amplifiers are energy efficient, provide ample power for the speaker zones, and generate little heat. They are housed in compact 1U enclosures, saving valuable rack space so that all of the AV equipment for both rooms fits in a single rack.

Convenient, User-Friendly Control

For simplified AV system operation in the auditorium and multi-purpose room, SCM selected the Extron TLP 710MV 7" TouchLink® Touchpanels mounted on custom lecterns, in conjunction with one Extron IPCP 505 IP Link® Control Processor in the equipment rack. The AV system control interface on the touchpanel provides intuitive system operation, including source selection and a choice of conferencing or presentation modes, as well as the ability to power the displays on or off. For client convenience, the touchpanel interface is available in Italian, French, and English.

In addition to the TouchLink touchpanel in each room, Châteauform’ provides an iPad with the Extron Control for iPad® app installed. The app mirrors the TouchLink GUI, and serves as an additional point of control for a presenter who may be away from the lectern, or for another individual to assist the presenter in running the system. “With the ability to easily manage the AV system on their own and the flexibility to control from the lectern or the iPad, clients are able to focus on the seminar without the assistance of a technician,” Vella says.

Conclusion

For Châteauform’, the use of Extron products in La Cascina Erbatici fulfilled the need for performance, reliability, flexibility, and ease of use. SCM also chose Extron for the dedicated support in ensuring that the system designs suited the application. “Extron equipment was selected for quality and reliability, as well as for the excellent technical support,” says Vella. “The Extron staff understood the importance of the project in terms of innovation, and did their best to assist us with a solution that would meet the client’s needs in a high-value, cost-effective manner.”

AV Flexibility in Additional Meeting Rooms

A compact 22U equipment rack
A compact 22U equipment rack at the front of the room houses the IN1606 and all other equipment in the system.

SCM was contracted to equip several other mid-size and small meeting rooms, most notably one with the Extron  IN1606 Scaling Presentation Switcher as well as Extron audio and control. The IN1606 provides fast and reliable switching between guest devices and the room’s satellite receiver. It also delivers content optimized to a projector, plus two overhead flat-panel displays situated midspan in a long, rectangular presentation space. A compact 22U equipment rack at the front of the room houses the IN1606 and all other equipment in the system. Extron DTP HDMI 4K 230 Twisted Pair Extenders were used to send video and control signals to the projector and displays. As with the XTP System, a single CATx cable to each display minimizes the visibility of overhead cabling in a fully exposed ceiling.

The sound system is similar to those of the auditorium and multi-purpose room, and includes several fixed and wireless microphones plus subwoofers to deliver full-range music. Audio from the microphones and IN1606 feed into a DMP 128 C that provides mixing and routing, acoustic echo cancellation, and other DSP functions. Three XPA 2004 amplifiers are housed in the same compact equipment rack as the DMP 128 C and IN1606, and provide a total of 2,400 watts power output to two subwoofers and speakers throughout the room.

The integrator chose an Extron MLC 226 IP MediaLink® controller and the Extron Control for iPad app to provide clients with convenient options for operating the system. Using the controller or the iPad app, individuals can easily select sources, raise or lower the projection screen and motorized flip-down flat-panel displays, and power the display devices on or off. Extron Control for iPad enables individuals to operate the system from anywhere in the room.

The XTP System provides flexible AV signal distribution in the auditorium.

The XTP System provides flexible AV signal distribution in the auditorium. The CATx cable infrastructure allows for discreet installation using a limited number of compact cables.

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