The Soho Grand Hotel is a classic part of its Manhattan neighborhood, but it’s anything but old-fashioned, keeping up with the times in both design and technology. The hotel has redone its sound system four times in the past 17 years in order to present a variety of musical events and other programs, including contemporary DJs. All four sound system makeovers were designed and installed by Essential Communications of East Hanover, New Jersey.
With the increased emphasis on DJs, the Soho Grand’s newest sound system is based on a Dante network managed by a Symetrix Radius 12x8 EX DSP. “The Symetrix Radius manages the audio system for the entire property,” begins Essential Communications President David Schwartz. That includes all the common area and lounges and a variety of configurable meeting and party rooms.
In addition to Radius DSP, Essential Communications team installed new Community IC-series loudspeakers with QSC power amplifiers. “There are speakers pointed in different directions to cover some of the nooks and crannies, and we wanted to be able to apply EQ and timing as necessary, so we used a lot of DSP outputs,” Schwartz explains. “The Radius 12x8 EX is equipped with a four-channel Analog Output Card, as well as an xOut 12 output expander, so the system has 24 analog outputs. It performs very well, and it sounds great!”
Providing easy-to-use control was an important part of the design. “We customized the user interface because end users in this case, food and beverage managers and floor managers-want simple control,” asserts Schwartz. “They want to push a button, and the volume goes up or the source changes, and that’s it. We were able to provide exactly that with the Symetrix ARC-WEB virtual interface.”
Some of the configurable rooms are equipped with ARC-3 wall panels, primarily used for volume/mute control and source selection. A separate ARC-3 serves as a room setup controller for room combining.
Elsewhere, ARC-WEB enables wireless control from a web browser. “In the common areas, as well as the two bars and the Salon, everything is run with ARC-WEB,” Schwartz explains. “We installed our own wireless network for the audio system, and we give each manager a static IP address on their iPhones, as well as an assigned static IP for the Radius. With one touch, the manager can connect directly to the Radius and change sources and volumes for all zones. The hotel also has an iPad in the office they can use as a backup. The managers love it; whenever I see the Food and Beverage Manager, he reminds me that the wireless control is a ‘game changer.’ And it really is. There’s no lag, you don’t push a button and wait. It’s instantaneous and very cool.”
Using ARC-WEB provides additional benefits, notes Schwartz. “Once you put the network information into the mobile device and save it as a shortcut to the device’s desktop, all the user has to do is press the shortcut, and the software automatically retrieves the IP address and connects to the system. It’s so simple, which also cuts the time we spend training people.”