In May of 2020, Sound Solutions was awarded the installation of a new sound and conferencing system, along with a video projector and screen for the Memorial Hall. The system consists of three separate, but linked components:
• TOA Infrared conferencing system
• Sound system
• Video projector
The conferencing system is the TOA TS-800 IR wireless, consisting of nine delegate and one chairman/mayor unit. Each system runs on a removable rechargeable battery on the bottom, which slides out to be placed in the charging unit located above the rack on the stage. Each battery takes about 8 hours to fully recharge, and lasts about 10 hours with normal use in the conferencing units.
The battery slides out of the bottom of each unit, and slides back in without the use of tools. There are two indicators for each battery slot. Red indicates that the battery is charging, green means that the battery is fully charged. Since there are 10 delegate units and only 8 charging slots, we recommend that the batteries are rotated regularly in the charger to prevent a dead battery. These are lithium ion batteries, meaning that they will not lose their charge if left in a conferencing unit, and the batteries can also be left in the charging unit for days without the risk of overcharging a battery.
Each delegate and chairman unit has a power switch on the right side, press to power up, press again to turn off. Also on the left side is a volume control to control the volume level of the speaker in the conferencing unit. Rotate away from you to turn the speaker up, rotate towards you to turn it down.
Note that ideally the volume of each delegate unit is kept as low as possible to prevent feedback, or squealing from adjacent conferencing units during a council chamber session.
Each delegate unit has a single push button, used to speak. When pressed, the red light on the gooseneck microphone lights up, indicating that the conferencing unit is being used. Press the button again to turn the conferencing unit off. Up to 4 conferencing units can be ‘live’ at one time, as set on the master controller unit in the rack.
The chairman/mayor unit has a red priority button as well as the standard push to talk button that the delegate units have. The priority button sends a chime tone through all the delegate units, and automatically shuts off all delegate units so that the mayor can speak. Once the red button is pushed again, operation of the delegate units may resume again.
The delegate and chairman units communicate to the master unit in the rack via two IR pickups located on the ceiling in between the lighting trusses. These look like security dome cameras. The communication between the conferencing units are done via line of sight to these two pickups, and any papers or laptop computers placed in front of the delegate units can block communication with the main controller unit. If a delegate unit is completely out of range, the red microphone light will start to flash, indicating loss of signal.
The system was designed to work with the delegate units in the front half of the hall only, however with Covid19 distancing in place as of June 2020, it is possible that conferencing units furthest away from these two ceiling pickups are right on the fringe of the communication range. This can lock up the system, and cause all delegate units to work sporadically, even if the red LED is not flashing on the affected delegate unit. The solution is to move the tables slightly closer together so that all delegate units are within range.
Main controller unit.
The TOA TS-800 controller unit is located in the rack on the stage. The controller has four adjustments on it that affect how the conferencing system works. There are three slide switches on the unit, that control the following:
Left most switch- sets the maximum number of delegate units that are on at the same time. The system currently is set for 4, but this can be changed to 1 or 2 as well. The lower the number of microphones that are on at the same time, the better the sound quality is, especially if the council meeting is being recorded.
Centre switch- sets what happens to delegate units if more than the allocated number of microphones are turned on. ‘First’ means that the first unit turned on will be bumped out of the system, ‘Last’ means that the last unit turned on will be bumped off, and ‘First’ means that the first delegate unit turned on will stay on, but the last unit turned on will be bumped off. With only a total of 10 delegate units being installed, it’s likely no more than 4 microphones will ever be turned on at the same time.
Right most switch: The time out switch if turned in the ‘on’ position, will turn off any active mic if silence is heard for more than 30 seconds.The main volume control sets the level of the conferencing system as heard through the portable speaker. This should be left at about the 12:00 position.
The TOA main control unit can be turned off after each council meeting.
There is a Peavey preamplifier located in the sound system rack, with 4 labeled controls on it.
• Phone- sets the volume level of the incoming telephone line
• Projector- sets the volume level of the video projector audio
• W/less- sets the volume level of the handheld wireless microphone
• Council- sets the volume level of the council chamber system.
There is a plug on one of the pillars that contains a 3 pin connector (XLR) that the portable Samson speaker plugs into. The Samson speaker is placed on a tripod stand, and is connected with the supplied XLR cable so that the audio signals from the Peavey mixer in the rack are heard. The speaker is designed for gallery use only, and should be pointed away from the TOA delegate conferencing units.
Wireless Mic: The Audio Technica 2000 system has a receiver in the rack, and the handheld wireless mic will run about 8 hours on one pair of AA batteries, accessed by unscrewing the handheld microphone plastic sleeve. There is on on/off switch on the bottom of the mic, with a red LED on the bottom. Don’t forget to turn the mic on for the Q/A period, and to turn it off at the end of a council session!
Telephone Conferencing unit.
There is a Gentner/ClearOne teleconferencing unit in the rack designed to receive calls from a remote location, and to send the incoming audio through the sound system and delegate units. The audio from the delegate units is sent back to the teleconferencing unit so that the people calling in can hear the delegates. Calls can be placed from the wired telephone connected to the conferencing unit. Calls are placed directly to the remote telephone. Once the person answers, push the round button on the bottom left of the teleconferencing unit. The red light above the button will turn from red to blue, indicating that the teleconferencing unit has picked up the call, and audio is now routed to the sound system. The wired telephone can be hung up at that point.
Calls can also be made into the teleconferencing unit from a remote location, by calling the number on the teleconferencing unit.
Note: When a delegate is speaking into the TOA conferencing unit, the incoming audio from the telephone system is cut off from that TOA unit due to it being in use. The person using the TOA conferencing unit must turn his unit off before he can hear the incoming audio from the remote telephone.
The video projector’s power is controlled by the remote control. No other buttons need to be pushed on the projector remote, as it automatically comes up with the correct input for the Factor wall plate.
The Factor wall plate located to the left of the stage accepts an HDMI or a VGA input. The inputs are auto-selecting, so the plate will activate whichever connection is plugged into.
The audio is routed to the Peavey preamplifier in the rack, and the labeled control is used to turn the volume up and down through the Samson portable speaker.