A practical case is Monash University, which has entrusted this task to the performance of EAW to achieve consistent, natural, and reliable sound. When it comes to education, Monash University focuses on addressing current challenges for a better tomorrow, both for students and for local communities and the global population.
Named one of the top 50 universities worldwide, Monash is continually striving to offer the most comprehensive learning regimen possible, one that puts student and professor connectivity above all else. So, when the world started shifting from analogue VGA video to HDMI digital, and their students required higher quality output from its AV systems, Monash called on Audio Visual Design Manager and Lead Architect Peter MacLean to overhaul the university’s sound setup.
Over the past decade, MacLean has worked with Monash University to define what a new AV system needed to do to improve the learning experience. Some of these requirements included natural, smooth and rich sound with high speech intelligibility, as well as reliable, consistent and easy-to install solutions. From there, MacLean designed a new set of standards for the audio-visual team to follow when implementing new systems—standards that continually get updated as technology improves and academic needs change.
Based on these requirements, as well as exhaustive listening tests of various loudspeaker options, the team landed on multiple solutions from Eastern Acoustic Works (EAW®).
For us, it’s all about connecting the students to the academic; creating an environment where students are immersed in learning and better able to understand and contextualize the concepts and topics being taught. EAW speakers stood out to us due to their presence and intelligibility, which made audio much easier to understand and more relaxing to follow. This also prevents burn out for students with hours-worth of classes. EAW plays a big part in delivering an effective learning environment, shares MacLean.
Across Monash’s five Melbourne campuses, as well as its international campuses, over 1,000 EAW speakers are utilized. Solutions include the brand’s CIS300 Ceiling-Mounted 2-way Loudspeakers in the larger flat floor collaborative learning spaces, with the smaller and medium-sized lecture spaces featuring MK8100, VFR and UB Series Loudspeakers for FOH and delay. In the larger theatres, the biggest of which can seat around 400 students, Monash has installed EAW’s QX300 Series 2-Way Trapezoidal Enclosure Speakers along with the MK8100 series for delay. The Caufield Campus also features an EAW ANNA and OTTO ADAPTive System as part of a large outdoor LED screen for student concerts, providing controlled sound in a very difficult environment.
All of Monash’s lecture theatres additionally use the LS series small line source speakers for ceiling mounted foldback. Monash’s world class Biomedical Learning and Teaching Building allows for the flexibility of running 1 x 240, 2 x 120 or 4 x 60 student classes in each of the five Flexi Labs. This enables the university to maximize space usage and minimize cost of these labs. This is made possible with the use of the very directional EAW LS432 small line source speakers, with two mounted in the ceiling above each of the six tables in the labs.
With the new sound systems, MacLean notes that intelligibility is higher than ever.
The presence of EAW speakers made lectures sound like the academic was right in front of me, even from the back of the room. We sat in on a lecture with the upgraded system and despite distance and accents, the audio was clear with no distortion or harshness and exceptional intelligibility, which is the polar opposite of the original speaker system. Students were no longer distracted by a tablet or personal device, and to us that means the improved audio allowed for greater concentration, engagement and actual effective learning to take place. We found this to be consistent across all models and series of EAW speakers, in all our learning spaces. It eased our design process knowing that we were going to get dependable results from EAW, he says.
This reliability can be seen even in more challenging spaces, like the new Woodside Building for Technology and Design, which has a large, open informal space at the south end of the building with very reflective timber stairs. Here, AC6 loudspeakers allowed the design team to direct the sound to the seating area, with high presence and intelligibility and significantly lowered reverberation. Monash’s latest 90-student flat floor space is also currently still in the works. It features a complex open ceiling, so the EAW MKC50 loudspeakers were chosen and will be hung and pointed down to replicate traditional ceiling speakers.
“It’s a very challenging space acoustically, but the MKCs are really going to help us achieve the balance we need”, he says. “They have such high speech intelligibility and match perfectly with the amplifiers to create a very impressive end result. The DSP included in EAW UXA4401 amplifiers has also been great. It allows, with the focusing grey box, for a smoother and richer sound, and simple, consistent installation using pre-prepared DSP templates. There are no tweaks or fine-tuning necessary by the installers. It has made things very easy for our AV integrators”.
This new space is just a part of Monash’s continual plan to upgrade the AV systems around its campus. As new projects or upgrades are needed, MacLean and team consistently test industry-standard systems to ensure that the university gets the best solution at the right price.
It’s really critical that we get the right speakers for our setup, and a lot of the time that ends up being EAW. EAW makes very reliable speakers, so we’ve had very few failures, even on systems that have been in and running for 10 years now. They’re still delivering the same sound quality as the day they were installed, MacLean finishes.