Attero Tech Interfaces Prove Crucial at Southlands
By: Daniel Keller
Aurora, CO-February 2018... Nestled in the heart of this Denver suburb, the beautiful Southlands Shopping Center's four-block Main Street and multiple cross streets are lined with retailers, restaurants, and entertainment venues. Visitors gather in the Town Square to relax and enjoy such activities as a children's pop jet fountain in summer and ice skating in winter. A covered stage in the northeast corner of the square hosts a popular summer concert series as well as other events.
Southlands' original sound system featured mushroom-style speakers situated in planting beds. The speakers were cute, and you could hear them when you were close, but as you walked away, the level faded, so coverage was uneven, including dead spots. In addition, the planting beds contain trees, mulch, and flowers, which are lovely in the spring and summer. But mulch crept into the bottom of the mushroom speakers in warm weather, and snow covered them in winter, seriously compromising the sound.
To address these issues, Southlands contracted with systems integrator, Premier A/V, who installed a new sound system featuring Attero Tech unDIO2x2+ Dante™-networked audio interfaces. A two-in, two-out audio I/O interface, the unDIO2x2+ provides a convenient way to add analog inputs and outputs to a Dante™-enabled audio network. The unDIO2x2+ also includes switchable mic/line gain and switchable 48V phantom power on the inputs as well as software-adjustable output volume control. Audio flow assignment, input gain, and phantom power are all controllable over the Dante™ network.
"We replaced the old system completely," recalls Premier A/V's Brendan Clancy. "We installed 174 new JBL Control-series speakers covering the walkways around each building and the Town Square, mounted to light poles with special brackets. We utilized the fiber optic network infrastructure at Southlands to distribute the audio program over a VLAN using Dante™ to 10 Crown CDi DriveCore-series amplifiers around the campus. Nine Atterotech unDIO2x2+ interfaces 'offramp' the audio program to the amplifiers."
The system is centered on a rack in one of the buildings, which holds a licensed audio player, a BSS Soundweb London BLU-806DA DSP, and the power amplifier that serves the speakers outside that building. The local power amplifier gets a direct analog feed from the DSP. The DSP also routes audio via Dante™ to and from the nine Dante™ zones for the nine remote amplifiers spread around the shopping center. Each Dante™ zone employs an Attero Tech unDIO2x2+ to feed the amplifier for that zone and provide auxiliary audio inputs into the system that are routed back to the DSP via Dante™. A mic connects directly to the DSP for announcements, during which an override ducks program audio.
"The system just serves the sidewalk adjacent to the streets," Clancy points out, "except in the Town Square. We fill the center of the Town Square with additional speakers that cover that area heavily to enhance it as an entertainment and leisure area."
Although the unDIO2x2+ aux inputs are not currently in use in every zone, the ability to use them when desired is a valuable benefit. The inputs proved immediately useful in the Town Square, however. "The ability to use auxiliary inputs to send audio back to the head end is amazing-and it wasn't something I had looked into that much," admits Clancy. "But when I saw that the Attero Tech unDIO2x2+ provided this feature, I came up with a need and a way to use it."
The most compelling use of the audio inputs will be during the summer concert series, when bands bring in a small concert system to handle the sound in the Town Square. "When they're performing, we can mute our speakers at the Town Square and the buildings surrounding it," Clancy explains. "But the unDIO2x2+ lets us provide a wireless mic input that bands can use to send a feed to the unDIO2x2+, which converts the feed to Dante™ and sends it to the DSP. We can then pipe the music up Main Street and to the other areas our system serves. Southlands can also use the unDIO2x2+ stereo audio input to plug an iPad or whatever they want into our system."
The Southlands project was Clancy's introduction to Attero Tech products. "I needed a good, affordable way to offramp just one or two Dante™ audio channels per zone to feed the amplifiers," he recalls. "It made no sense to buy the expensive eight-channel systems I saw elsewhere. I found Attero Tech with a Google search, liked what I read, and contacted them. They put us in touch with Darby Reps, the regional sales rep here in town, and we took it from there.
His experience at Southlands sold Clancy on Attero Tech. "The Attero Tech unDIO2x2+ is plug-and-play, so it is very easy on my end," he observes. "I didn't have to do additional configuration. The ability to bring local audio into the Dante™ system provides functionality I'll use in the future. Their tech support is great too: I called them once, and the support rep I spoke to was super helpful. It turned out to be a network issue unrelated to the Attero Tech interface but he helped me figure it out. Now I love Attero Tech's stuff, and I'm looking at putting it in most of my future projects. Attero Tech makes it way easier to use network audio."