AKG’s popular CS 5 Conference Systems have been specified by Paul Fox of Blue Spider — both as upgrades, and as part of new technical fit-outs for the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) facilities in Manchester and London.

Fox, who undertakes all the AV and digital signage consultancy and implementation for main contractors, Barbican-based Trans European Technology (TET), has placed these at the hub of a Harman Pro audio solution.

In Manchester, where a second conference room has just been added, this includes eight JBL Control 26CT recessed ceiling speakers (in the larger room) and eight Control 24CT in the smaller, driven by Crown XTi amplifiers — with the sound processed and distributed via two dbx ZonePRO 641M 6 x 4 digital zone processors.

But the hub of the installation is the new AKG CS 5 Conference System. Each of the two rooms is equipped with a 20 station CS 5 system (as is the London facility in Holborn) — replacing previous generation AKG CS 2 systems.

The CS 5 is AKG's new state-of-the-art conferencing system, suitable for any meeting space, from small discussions to large congresses. Using standard CAT5 cabling the interactive system offers 64 audio channels and an unprecedented level of flexibility, which combined with a choice of AKG's industry leading microphones, delivers one of the most sophisticated and reliable systems available.

The CS 5 Conferencing System gives users an unprecedented amount of control through a single CS 5 Base Unit (BU), which runs the entire system. The systems designed by Paul Fox for NICE feature a Base Unit (CS 5 BU), a CS 5 VU Chairman’s Unit and 20 x CS 5 DU Delegate Units with GN30CS goosenecks fitted with CK31 cardioid capsules. In fact, the modular flexible system allows over 1000 delegate units to be connected to the Base Unit — each designed to be shared by two delegates.

Thanks to use of standard CAT 5 cabling the system is easy to install and with distributed power supplies offers a high level of redundancy for failsafe operation.

The CS 5 system also offers dedicated interpreter stations for translation up to 63 languages, has the ability to use infrared wireless transmission, includes Chip Card Identification, and provides all the necessary software to link together the entire system.

“I have not worked with the CS 5 before but as I was accustomed to the old CS 2 it was a natural progression,” says the installer. “In Manchester they had two separate meeting rooms — set 40 metres apart — so they can have a conference in either room and link between the two as well as London.”

Everything returns to a central rack in Manchester which in turn links to the integrated Polycom video conferencing system. Maintaining continuity with AKG, Blue Spider have also specified two AKG WMS-450 wireless vocal sets (with handheld mics), and upgraded the mixer to an AKG DMM 4/2/2 digital auto-mixer.

All the Harman Pro equipment was supplied by exclusive UK and Ireland distributors, Sound Technology Ltd. “Having used part of the Harman range in the past I knew I wouldn’t have any issues — I have never had a call back to site or any equipment DOA. It’s very reliable from that point of view,' stated Paul Fox. “However, this is the first time we have dealt with Sound Technology and they have been really helpful. There was no Harman Pro equipment in these conference rooms before — other than the CS 2’s — and Sound Technology have helped us to evolve an ideal solution.”

The flexibility afforded enables the auditoriums to be configured in a number of ways: theatre style (taking up to 70 delegates), as well as in boardroom and classroom formats, where the numbers are reduced.

All the rooms enjoy high utilisation by committees, researchers and other medical professionals wishing to conduct meetings and workshops in the pursuit of developing guidance for the NHS, and the room is also used for stakeholder meetings.

“The layout changes for every meeting and sometimes this means the CS 5’s will be required for delegate voting. It’s an idiot proof system and the induction loop system is also wired into the conference system.” The system can be programmed to suit using the smart card to change the default settings.

NICE can not only expand its audio coverage within the existing facilities but they are looking to grow geographically by opening in Birmingham and Glasgow. Linked to NICE is the National Collaborating Centre for Cancer — based at Velindre NHS Trust in Cardiff — where Paul Fox will now be installing 15 further AKG CS 5 stations in a similar conferencing configuration.

“Consistent implementation was what they were looking for, and when a delegation from Cardiff saw what we had installed in Manchester they contacted us directly, as they were so pleased with what they had seen,” Paul Fox concluded.

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