Easy does it

The YMCA is an organization that rapidly took on global proportions, one whose strong presence was felt through two world wars and can trace a fellowship
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Easy does it

Feb 1, 2000 12:00 PM, Joyce Jorgenson

The YMCA is an organization that rapidly took on global proportions, onewhose strong presence was felt through two world wars and can trace afellowship with the armed forces back as far as the American Civil War. Asan early advocate of family development and growth, it also hadimmeasurable impact on the lives of countless young men and women, offeringthem a place where they could find meaning and self worth while discoveringthe virtues of fair play.

The YMCA, or simply the "Y" as it is known to millions, also gave us thegame of basketball in the winter of 1891 when it was invented by CanadianJames Naismith while serving as director of physical education at the YMCATraining School at Springfield College in Massachusetts. In pursuit of agame that could be played indoors - one in which physical contact andrunning with the ball were strictly prohibited - Naismith hung wooden peachbaskets on the walls at either end of the gym, high enough above theplayers' heads to discourage them from tackling for the ball. The rest isbasketball history: Within a year, the game was being played at YMCAsthroughout the United States and Canada, and by 1897, Yale and Pennsylvaniaplayed the first men's intercollegiate game.

A shining example of the YMCA's commitment to community service andphysical fitness is the new Durham Regional YMCA facility in Oshawa,Ontario, Canada, which opened in November. The building features a modern,spacious design individualized by the Toronto-based architectural firm ofMoriyama and Teshima. Many of the activities going on inside the new 60,000ft superscript 2 (5,600 m superscript 2) facility can be viewed bystrolling the huge natural-lit hall that flows from the lobby entrance intothe major program areas. As described by the award-winning architects whoserecent projects include the National Museum of Saudi Arabia in Riyadh andthe Canadian Embassies in Tokyo and Berlin, the Durham design promotessocial interaction, increases the level of energy and excitement andencourages members to sample a variety of YMCA programs.

The Durham YMCA offers a wide range of fitness programs, includingaerobics, dancercise, weight training, indoor rock climbing, volleyball,basketball and swimming lessons for everyone from infants to seniors. Tofacilitate these activities, there is an indoor recreational pool, sportsgymnasium, running track and dance studio. To accommodate administrativeneeds, a large media-equipped multi-purpose room is at hand for YMCAcorporate meetings, staff training and other gatherings. A children'scenter is also an integral part of the building that is highly visible fromall common-area corridors.

Audiospec, Mississauga, Ontario, lent its A-V design and installationskills to the Durham YMCA project. According to the firm's president andchief systems designer, Devy Breda, his company is responsible for the A-Vsystems that have gone into many of the Greater Toronto YMCA branchfacilities since 1987.

"The YMCA has always been receptive to new technologies," he said. "We werecommissioned to do the Durham project not long after finishing a YMCAnorthwest of Toronto in Brampton. The Brampton design uses a combination ofseveral Biamp Advantage SPM522D programmable stereo preamp/mixers forlocalized control that are integrated with an AMX control system. TheDurham project is an expansion of this concept, adding Biamp's MSP22 andMSP11 audio processors and a 70 V distributed system with a uniqueemergency call system. Our goal was to incorporate the best technologiesavailable in a great sounding system that would be easy to operate for endusers with little or no technical aptitude."

Illustrating the flexibility the AMX and Biamp partnership brought to theAudiospec design is the Durham YMCA's pool audio system, which providesmusic playback for aquatics along with mic and line-level input for generalinstruction purposes. Using this portion of the design as a template, Bredaapplied variations of the pool system's mixer/preamp, DSP and power ampsections to the gym, dance studio and video-equipped multi-purpose room,taking into account each room's functionality and acoustical requirements.

Accessible at the pool deck is a wall-mounted Biamp WMC522D keypad remotethat controls the SPM522D mixer, allowing control of the master level upand down and playback source selection consisting of a Denon DN-T620CD/cassette tape player or Denon TU280RM AM-FM tuner. The SPM522D accepts amaximum of five stereo inputs, two mic/line-level inputs and twoindependent stereo outputs, each with its own program selection, mic/lineassignments, level adjustments and memory presets.

The Biamp SPM522D mixer feeds a Biamp MSP11, a one-in/one-out DSP processorwith parametric and graphic EQs and built-in leveling. This goes to a QSCCX302V Contractor series power amp and on to five Sound Advanceindoor/outdoor BT82 flat-panel loudspeakers mounted in bulkheads aimed downat the pool.

Breda said, "The BT82s provide high sonic quality and are builtspecifically to contend with the high levels of moisture and humidity inthe poolside environment."

Breda added that the sound reinforcement system used in the dance studio -a small, enclosed space with wall-to-wall mirrors and hardwood floors - isa different matter entirely. "The control system here is practicallyidentical with that of the pool's, but we installed a Martin loudspeakersystem to achieve a very dynamic studio-quality sound. Low-end response isbuttressed by a pair of Martin EM26 loudspeakers and an EM150 subwoofer,all powered by a QSC USA Series 900 amplifier."

In the gym, Audiospec's Biamp SPM522D setup combines with a Biamp MSP22processor to handle the additional DSP input/output requirements. Thedesign also called for a second Biamp WMC522D remote keypad, allowing YMCAstaff to conveniently access the system controls from either end of theroom. Instead of using a single AW100 audio panel as seen in the pool anddance studio, two more were added in the gym to insure amplemicrophone/line-level and playback source inputs. Two RDL MX3s add a bitmore flexibility to the overall scheme, used here prior to the SPM522D assubmixers and connections between the three audio panels.

To accommodate the acoustical requirements of the gym's high ceilings,Audiospec selected and installed eight Altec-Lansing 920-8B ceilingloudspeakers with corresponding AEG (Arnscott Electronics Group) A70-32transformers, Lowell DX1512 backboxes, and Lowell FW-12 grilles.

Breda said, "These speakers provide high-quality music and voicereproduction in the gymnasium for traditional basketball as well asaerobics, dancercise and other recreational activities."

Similar in size to a large classroom, Durham YMCA's multi-purpose room isequipped to deliver superior speech intelligibility and high-resolutionvideo. System integration within this environment revolves around an AMXAxcent 3 controller and wireless AMX Viewpoint color touchscreen. A SanyoPLC5600N LCD projector, Draper Unimount LCD projector lift, Envoy 150 inch(3.8 m) diagonal electric screen and Altinex VA6854WM computer videointerface panel for PowerPoint presentations all fall under the control ofthe AMX touchscreen, as do all lighting, window coverings and audiofunctions. The room has superb sound coverage provided by 12 Tannoy CMS6TDCloudspeakers used with Tannoy TEQ518 backboxes and Tannoy TRG grilles. QSCCX302V Contractor series power amps deliver the necessary power.

A Pro Co AVP-1 audio panel extends mic/line-level input options above and beyond the room's standard mic and playback sources, which consist of a Telex UR700L UHF wireless mic, Denon DN-T620 CD/cassette player and JVC HR-S3500US-VHSVCR. As needed, the YMCA staff can check out a wireless mic at thereception desk and simply plug it into one of the multi-purpose room'saudio panels via a local XLR input. Using either the AMX Viewpointtouchscreen or the Biamp WMC522 wall-mount remote, the user can then selectthe audio and bring the volume up or down.

The pool, gym, dance studio and multi-purpose room systems are easilyconfigured with the help of a main AMX AXF-M/S control system and AMX EL+touchscreen at the reception desk. Once a zone page is selected on the AMXEL+ touchscreen, and the announcement is made through the paging mic (TOAPM660U), the signal is sent to both the audio input and the mute controlinput of the paged subsystem, which automatically mutes all other inputs inthat room, allowing a paging override.

"The Biamp SPM522D programmable mixer is at the heart of each subsystem,"said Breda, "and lends an enormous amount of logic and flexibility to thedesign by providing a page bus and a remote override into the systemwithout having to create any magic interface boxes. Thus, the selectivepaging in the pool area, gym, dance studio and multi-purpose room is verystraightforward for the YMCA staff."

From the AMX EL+ touchscreen, staff can select any one of three backgroundmusic sources (JVC XLMC-222BK multi-disc CD player, Denon TU-280R AM-FMtuner and Denon DN-770R dual CD/cassette player) and control volume. Zonepaging and music playback to the children's center, changing rooms andcommon-area corridors are facilitated by 77 AEG model MS4D loudspeakersstrategically placed throughout the building. Again, the 70 V distributionuses Lowell backboxes and grilles, models DX104 and WB-4, respectively.

Audiospec used the AMX to control Durham YMCA's emergency call system via anetwork of 25 Camden mushroom-style panic buttons and Edwards 6821 audioalert units, which are wall-mounted in strategic areas of the facility.Each device is wired back through the AMX control system. When a latch ispushed, DC voltage is applied to the zone alert, resulting in ahigh-pitched steady tone that is sounded in the immediate area and at thereception desk. At the same time, a closure is removed back at the AMX asthe priority signal. The zone alert overrides all other paging and playbackfunctions throughout the facility and pinpoints the zone alert graphicallyon the AMX touchscreen so that staff can immediately respond to theemergency. Breda commented that although this is an untraditional use ofthe AMX system, thanks to its versatility, it allowed his staff to programthe system to receive and control the emergency call signals and create thezone alert messages seen on the touchscreen display. Thus, the AMX El+touchscreen has accomplished two functions - it controls the main audio,the background music and page selection, and it acts as an emergency panicenunciator.

The pool equipment rack is located in the pool office, and themulti-purpose room, gym and reception area racks are each housed inseparate control rooms adjacent to their respective areas in MiddleAtlantic ERK series racks. The dance studio Middle Atlantic DWR series rackis wall-mounted in the room.

Breda said, "The products used in this application were chosen based upontheir past history of performance and dependability; The QSC Contractorsseries amps are well-respected and have proved to be reliable. We've usedAMX and Biamp extensively. Both have the quality, versatility andprofessional good looks that are welcomed in any modern facility such asthis."

Breda also noted that when you look at the equipment racks, there are noknobs on the Biamp mixers, nor on the MSP11 or MSP22 DSP units - onlyon/off buttons and LED indicators. He said, "The QSC CX amplifiers haveattenuators on the front, but we capped them off. Given the lack oftraditional front-panel controls found within the systems, the operatorneeds only to be concerned with the simplest functions. In this case,that's loading up the media (CD, cassette or VHS tape) or plugging in awireless microphone. We used the Denon units consistently in all systems sothat people can go from one room to the next without having to re-learn theoperation of the playback sources."

Prior to the opening of the Durham facility, Audiospec conducted a smalltraining session to familiarize the YMCA staff and volunteers with the AMXtouchscreens, all of which are equipped with easily recognizable icons.

Breda is currently representing Canada at the regional council level of theNSCA, of which Audiospec has been a member since 1988. Having foundedAudiospec in 1987, Breda runs day-to-day business with the aid of brotherand Audiospec accountant Rudy Breda. Dave Colter, vice president ofoperations, complements the management team.

Preferring the title "chief firefighter" to that of founder or president,Breda liked to point out that the company's success is attributable toAudiospec's collective team of experts: "We all have specific titles, butwe all do our part to make sure everything runs smoothly. The key to anyproject is coordinating its logistics at the onset."

Management acumen played a significant role in the successful outcome ofthe Durham YMCA project in particular. Breda said, "All newly constructedbuildings fall under specific code requirements, one of which states thatDivision 16 of the local electrical union be responsible for all rough-inwork, including installation of audiovisual emergency call cabling andloudspeaker backboxes. Our job was to furnish all wiring schematics andconduit riser diagrams to the union crew to ensure extreme accuracy, whichinvolved regularly scheduled meetings and working closely with them as wellas with the electrical systems designer, Toronto-based Crossey EngineeringLtd."

Overseeing the Durham A-V systems installation was Audiospec's Dave Colter(project manager), assisted by Ed Segren (technical support director),Darrell Colter, John Paul ("JP") Warren, Randy Holland and Dave MacKellar(technical installers), and Bill Taylor (AMX programmer). Begun in May of1999, the project was completed in November.

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