Attero Tech Wall Plates Help St. Mary's College Students Connect
By: Daniel Keller
Moraga, CA-October 2018...Founded in 1863 and administered by the De La Salle Christian Brothers since 1868, Saint Mary's College has survived fire, earthquake, and hard times to become one of the most respected regional universities in the Western U.S. In 1928, the school built the current Moraga Valley campus, with its distinctive Spanish Renaissance-California Mission-style architecture. Eleven of the original buildings are still in use.
Between classes and study, the hardworking students of Saint Mary's often relax at Dryden Hall, a fellowship hall with an attached kitchen, and at the connected Cassin Student Union's brand new Cassin Pub. The pub enables students who are of legal drinking age to enjoy an adult beverage in a safe environment on campus, without driving anywhere.
Recently, Eric Marshall of E.R.I.C. Low Voltage Services designed, programmed, and commissioned a new AV system that serves the Cassin Pub and Dryden Hall, including the kitchen, and features Attero Tech Dante-networked audio wall plates. Systems integrator Scott Levine of Advanced Voice & Data (AVD) installed the new system. "In each of the two spaces, we've installed an Attero Tech unD6IO-BT Dante-networked audio wall plate with Bluetooth," relates Marshall. "Whether they're doing a presentation or just having fun, students can connect wirelessly. The unD6IO-BT has 3.5 mm and RCA inputs, which can be separate from the Bluetooth input, so people also can plug in, and they could potentially use all of the inputs at the same time, although that's unlikely."
The unD6IO-BT wall plate in each location is mostly used for local audio but Marshall provided an overflow mode in which audio input in Dryden's wall plate will play in the Cassin Pub as well, or vice versa. "There's just a door between the two locations," Marshall observes. "So the two systems can be used separately, with each space's speakers fed by the local unD6IO-BT, or the students can open up the door and have one big party in both Dryden and the Cassin Pub, and either unD6IO-BT can take over as the source for both rooms."
Marshall's relationship with Attero Tech goes back about 10 years. "Stewart Audio partnered with Attero Tech around 2007 or 2008 to get Dante into some of their amplifiers, and Attero Tech asked me to come up with a couple of designs and write some specifications for them," he recalls. "Not long after that, I put my design business on hiatus for awhile and went to work for a contractor. Then in 2014 I went back out on my own and started E.R.I.C., which stands for Engineering, Representing, Instructing, and Commissioning. Instead of just design, I work with about 15 or 20 contractors. I've worked with Scott Levine of AVD for quite a few years, even back when I was just doing design. So for the Saint Mary's College project, I had a good partnership with Scott and a product I trusted with Attero Tech."
Marshall points out that Bluetooth input is essential at Dryden Hall and Cassin Pub because smartphones are a common music source. "The new iPhones don't have headphone jacks," he observes, "so they can't be plugged into the sound system. With Bluetooth, any phone, tablet, or laptop can connect. Of course Bluetooth gives users the freedom to walk around the room, and another advantage of the unD6IO-BT is that Attero Tech's Bluetooth has much more range than normal Bluetooth. But I also wanted something with physical connections so, for example, a DJ could plug in. That's why the unD6IO-BT's 3.5 mm and RCA inputs are important."
Another reason Marshall chose the Attero Tech unD6IO-BT is the security of its Bluetooth implementation. "Although my phone remembers the Attero Tech devices, it won't automatically reconnect to Attero Tech Bluetooth, as it does with other Bluetooth," he notes. "I have to press the button to pair it each time. That gives you the security you need in a public space."
An Extron DMP 128 Plus AT DSP manages the audio system, and an Extron IPCP Pro 555 DSP manages the overall system, including the video. Both DSPs offer Dante digital audio connectivity, and the audio level and source selection-a media player is also on the network-can be controlled from an iPad. You might think that the Dante-enabled DSP led to the use of Attero Tech panels but it was the other way around-which brought side benefits. "Because I chose to use the two Attero Tech unD6IO-BT wall plates to have high-quality Bluetooth connectivity, that dictated that I had to use a DSP that could do Dante," explains Marshall. "Since we had Dante, we mounted an RJ45 data jack right next to the unD6IO-BT, and we put in a Midas M32 mixer with Dante. Now, a band or other group can come in, connect up to 32 sources to the mixer, and do a full fledged event. But it all started with the two Attero Tech unD6IO-BT plates."
Another benefit of the unD6IO-BT is its 3.5 mm stereo audio output. "With that, users can connect a recorder or a computer running recording software and record whatever's happening," Marshall details. "Whatever goes through the Dryden speakers will come through that output. The same with the Cassin unD6IO-BT. And in overflow mode, they could record in Cassin whatever is going on in Dryden or vice versa."
The system currently just covers the indoor areas, but an outside area is being equipped with speakers as well. "We will expand to include the outdoor areas in the Dante system," Marshall confirms. "But the main system is up and running, and so far everything has worked very well."