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in Sound, Light & Vision

Chas BESA - British Education Suppliers Association

Robert Clack School

Dagenham, Essex

The Robert Clack School opened in 1955 and was named after a popular former Mayor of the Borough of Dagenham.  This large secondary school was having an extension added to their upper school hall and having had a relationship with the school for more than a decade, Clarity were asked to provide an upgrade to the existing sound system once the extension was complete.

Wherever possible the existing equipment was reused to save unnecessary expenditure including their Audio Technica radio microphones and four loudspeakers in the main hall, with two more added in the extension to give full coverage.

For simple day to day use, a stage cabinet containing a Yamaha digital signal processor (DSP) programmed by a Clarity engineer was included.  System settings such as graphic equalisation and volume limiting are included in the digital processing equipment. The limiter circuit reduces the possibility of system damage by abuse or misuse. The DSP also includes a high-quality feedback reducer, used to gain additional volume from cabled and radio microphones before feedback occurs. The high-pitched whine or low rumble of feedback can happen on any sound system, having the correct system components and a feedback suppressor greatly reduces the chance of feedback occurring without compromising sound quality.  Also included with the DSP is an automatic mixer, which turns microphones on or off, without manual intervention.

For performances and large events, a recently released Yamaha digital mixing console was supplied in a portable flight-cased trolley.  Its features include 16 motorised slider control channels, 32 microphone inputs, integral touch screen with swipe and pinch tablet style functions, simple pre-set control to save and load mixes for events at the touch of a button and ability to control main and monitor mixes (for live musicians) via a free iPad app.  The mixer also has a built-in library of manufacturers products and effects as well as security settings that allow you to lock-out certain areas of the desk, meaning that you can limit who has access to particular controls.  Another big advantage of this mixer is that it has an eight-channel totally automatic mixer that will raise and lower microphone volumes without manual intervention. This is ideal for choirs and across stage pickup with cabled microphones, or multi-way radio microphones for conferences and events. No technical operator is required for this function.

In addition, installed in the sound trolley was a professional Yamaha streaming CD/media player. This player includes a USB slot plus Bluetooth wireless connectivity with a very long range.  A useful function of the player is that it can stream via music Apps such as Spotify and Apple Music.

Also supplied was a digital microphone multicore (digital snake), that connects to locations stage left and stage right.  This multicore included 16 microphone/line inputs and eight returns (for monitors etc.) and was supplied in a flight-case so it can be relocated to whichever connection point is required.  Any of the schools existing cabled microphones can be connected directly to the remote stage box.

A DANTE (Digital Audio Network Through Ethernet) network was installed in the hall meaning that there are various locations in the hall and stage area that the mixing console and stagebox can be connected. This creates a totally flexible solution.

Robert Clack School have existing Yamaha DANTE audio processing equipment in other venues throughout the school. This means that the new sound system trolley and stagebox can easily be used in other venues at the school and are not restricted to use in the new extension.

To ensure versatility of the sound system, connection points were installed on either side of the hall and a HDMI/VGA input panel was installed at one of the rear connection point locations. As the existing projector only has one HDMI input an HDMI auto-switcher was fitted to enable selection between the existing HDMI panel, and the new connection point.

Finally, two 9.5m long overlap curtain tracks and one 15m long track were installed on two sides of the hall, with 6m full length red wool serge curtains that can be easily opened and closed with weighted line pulleys.