Perth, Western Australia—August 2018… Perth’s newest five-star hotel, the 26-story Westin Perth features high ceilings, lots of natural light in the public spaces, and a 2,000-piece collection of Australian art. In addition to 368 guest rooms and suites and a lovely lobby decorated in natural, neutral tones, it offers a lounge, day spa, infinity pool, outdoor pool, gym and fitness studio. Levels 1 and 2 feature nine flexible event spaces, some of which can be combined, including the three-segment, 800 square meter (8,611 square foot) Grand Ballroom.
To serve audio and video to the hotel’s many public spaces and back-of-house areas, AV and communications systems firm Stokes Technologies designed and installed an extensive, sophisticated AV network that relies on Attero Tech Dante-networked audio interfaces and wall plates. “It’s a complete AV-over-IP solution, with more than 700 channels of audio, of which 300 channels flow through Attero Tech encoders and decoders,” recounts Stokes Technologies systems engineer Aaron Mitchell, who designed the system. “Mood music players provide background music through Attero Tech unD41-L flange-mount interfaces, and the network uses several types of Attero Tech encoders and decoders to route audio to and from virtually all public spaces.”
The system spans the area from below ground to Level 5, connected with fiber and managed with three Q-SYS Core 510i integrated processors mounted in the central racks on Level 2. “We divide the Q-SYS Core processors and switches to serve different floor locations so if one were to go down, it wouldn’t take the whole system out,” notes Mitchell. Switches are configured in three stacks to match the three Q-SYS Core processors, with each stack operating as a single logical switch. The stacks are linked, and audio flows between the Q-SYS Core processors via AES67 on a separate VLAN, so video and audio can be routed to and from all endpoints in the network. Except for some Crestron speakers in the higher ceilings and K-array speakers in a few very narrow spaces, most of the speakers and power amplifiers are QSC, so the Q-SYS Core processors send audio to the amplifiers using Q-LAN.
All other network audio is Dante, routed to and from Attero Tech interfaces. “One of the things we really like about Attero Tech is the integration with Q-SYS,” Mitchell relates. “Attero Tech have plug-ins for Q-SYS, so I can see and control the Attero Tech device’s status, input gain, and phantom power in my Q-SYS file. I don’t have to run both Q-SYS software and Attero Tech software and then send specific UPD commands to the endpoints; the controls of each Attero Tech endpoint are natively in the Q-SYS software.”
Five projectors provide video in the Grand Ballroom. An Attero Tech unDIO2X2+ flange-mount, 2-in, 2-out Dante-networked audio interface at each projector location takes audio from the projector and puts it back on the network so it’s always in sync with the picture. Each projector’s unDIO2X2+ also provides two audio channels to the in-room IR emitter: one channel for hearing augmentation and one channel for international interpretation. The interpreter channel can be routed from one of the room’s Attero Tech unDX2IO+ Dante audio wall plates.
Each of the unDX2IO+ wall plates in the ballroom and meeting rooms provides two front-panel balanced XLR mic/line inputs and outputs, plus two balanced line inputs on the side of the unit for use with an expansion plate. Some spaces have Attero Tech unD3IO wall plates, which provide XLR, RCA, and 3.5 mm stereo input and output. These wall panels enable local audio to be patched to the network and played over the sound system.
“The main sources of control are 10 iPads,” offers Mitchell. “A few are on wall docks, and others are issued as needed. Each can be assigned to control AV on a specific floor or room, so a hotel technician can walk from one room to another and set it up completely, including choosing video and audio streams.”
Our biggest issues in designing and configuring the system were channel count and bandwidth. “The system has 10 Huawei 5720-series network switches, all of them connected together,” Mitchell observes. “With 700 audio channels flying around, and video in the mix as well, we really had to keep an eye on bandwidth and calculate how much goes through every port.”
Bandwidth considerations were minor compared with the advantages of routing everything over an IP network and accessing audio with Attero Tech panels, however. “Compared to analog cables, we can fit many more audio channels, video channels, and control into one cable,” Mitchell explains. “We don’t have much space in the AV room, and our main comms come into that room in a one-meter-wide cable tray that’s almost entirely filled with CAT cable. If we had to do that with analog cable, it would have been a lot messier, and we couldn’t have offered as many services. Dante audio through Attero Tech interfaces is a much more flexible and efficient solution. For the size of the job, installation came along extremely quickly, and the Attero Tech products have been very reliable. They have been excellent.”
Using Dante audio with Attero Tech interfaces also helped the Stokes Technologies team expand the system on short notice. “An additional room was added to the job partway through, as happens, and we hadn’t even run cables there,” recalls Mitchell. “We were able to just run CAT cables from the client LAN into this new room, put in Attero Tech endpoints, and the room was on the network. We were extremely pleased.”