Aloft Perth's Network Takes Flight with Attero Tech
// By: Daniel Keller
Perth, Australia-May 2017...
Overlooking the Swan River in Western Australia's vibrant capital, the newest member of the trendy Aloft® Hotel chain boasts a variety of meeting and entertainment spaces. Patrons can enjoy the W XYZ® bar, the Re:Mix Lounge, and an outdoor pool, all on the ground floor. The mezzanine level includes seven meeting rooms, the two largest of which can be combined. A rooftop area features the 300-person Springs Ballroom and an outdoor terrace with spectacular river views. State-of-the-art A/V systems designed by Stokes Technologies and featuring Attero Tech® interfaces further enhance the hotel's stylish vibe.
"This is a new hotel, so it's ground-up construction," observes Stokes Technologies System Engineer Aaron Mitchell. "Retrofitting would be difficult because access is nonexistent in a lot of areas. For example, there are sealed ceilings rather than ceiling tiles. We built a ground-level system that is networked to the mezzanine system and a rooftop system that's connected by network switches and fiber. We have 10 or 12 spaces of background music across the ground level and mezzanine. We're using two Attero Tech unD6IO 4-in, 2-out Dante™ wall plate interfaces in each mezzanine room, with balanced, switchable mic/line inputs and phantom power."
The rooftop system is managed from the mezzanine level, 13 floors below. "It's the first system we've done where the floor has no DSP of its own, and all processing is done remotely," muses Mitchell. "The rooftop system has seven Attero Tech wall plate locations, each with one unD6IO and one unDX2IO 2-in, 2-out Dante™ wall plate to provide more channels. We also used a few Attero Tech unDIO2x2 2-in, 2-out flange-mount Dante™ interfaces. There are 170 channels of Dante™ going across the system, including 70 from the rooftop level. IP TV runs down the same fiber using HDMI transmission over IP; it's a first for our branch to do that level of IP system but it's working solidly with no noticeable latency."
The W XYZ Bar was a challenge because the space is narrow, with multiple obstructions. "Everything is compressed," confirms Mitchell. "We needed to deliver quality audio with even coverage, so we used a combination of pendant speakers and flush ceiling speakers. We have speakers at 6 meters (19.7 feet) high and at 2.5 meters (8.2 feet), all within one zone. We've got Crestron pendants in that area because of the ceiling height. Now we have happy audio and good vibes in the bar."
The W XYZ Bar sports a background music system and a wall-mounted television that receives IP TV. "We're taking audio from the IP TV box to a unDIO2x2 interface, which deploys it back onto the audio network, from which it can come back through the background-music speakers," Mitchell details.
Bar patrons enjoy four background music audio channels, using Mood Music Players located on the roof level and an Essential CD player. "Then there's the local input courtesy of the Attero Tech unD6IOs, including XLR microphone inputs, and the TVs in certain areas are pumping audio onto the network that can be fed back to that zone," Mitchell adds. Crestron touch panels enable audio source selection.
To make the system even easier to control, Mitchell's team programmed default states so the system is still functional without the touch panel. For instance, in the mezzanine-level meeting rooms, you can set a specific Attero Tech interface to feed the ceiling speakers. If you don't touch the panel, the default state routes input 1 on any unD6IO in the room to output 1 on all unD6IOs in the room, while input 2 goes to output 2. When two meeting rooms are combined, input 1 goes to output 1 on all Attero Tech interfaces in both rooms. A third room can be joined as well.
The Aloft Perth's original spec called for a system with patch panels. "But a patch bay only lets you send one point to another point," Mitchell notes. "And while patch panels are fine for a recording studio, the production guys here don't like them. Going with Dante™ and Attero Tech allowed us to bring all the channels to the DSP, route them wherever we want, and make control easy."
Networked Attero Tech interfaces and CAT6 cable proved a superior solution. "We initially priced the job with point-to-point XLR cables but when we changed to Attero Tech wall plates and a network, we found that, on long runs, running one CAT6 instead of six XLR cables can cover the cost of the wall plate," Mitchell asserts. "In addition, we can get electrical trades and IP trades to run and terminate our CAT cables so our brain trust can work on the programming instead of soldering cables."
The Aloft Perth's A/V system easily met the client's lofty requirements. "We embraced some technologies on this job we've never used to this scale before, and it has worked out well," confirms Mitchell. "The systems in the bar, the mezzanine area, and the rooftop are all we hoped for. And the system at the pool is pretty wicked. Dante™ and the Attero Tech interfaces made a huge difference."