Case Study

Revolutionising Learning Spaces: Newcastle University Business School Unveils State-of-the-Art Event Space

Newcastle University Business School (NUBS) is a triple accredited hub of academic excellence offering students unparalleled opportunities for growth and success. As part of a Russell Group University, they are committed to innovation, and offering students the best environment to learn and achieve. In line with this ethos, the University has embarked on a comprehensive refurbishment and modernisation initiative, including the high-profile St James’ View event space.

The objectives were to create a space with a high-spec aesthetic finish incorporating the latest hybrid meeting capabilities - a distinct improvement on the original twin projectors and drop down screens with a podium.

Newcastle University Audio Visual Department consulted with Audiologic on the design and equipment specification for this space based on our previous hybrid teaching solutions. GVAV won the tender exercise and subsequently outsourced the equipment supply, design and commissioning expertise to Audiologic. Facing unique challenges such as a room layout with two glass walls and an awkward shape, making acoustics difficult to negotiate and sightline and speaker positioning challenges due to the lectern position, the team embarked on a mission to create a cutting-edge facility tailored to meet the evolving needs of the students and faculty.

The large space is also divisible into 3 areas, depending on use, and it was an essential requirement that content could be routed from anywhere, to anywhere.

Darren Mitchell, Technical Lead at the University for the project, specified a spread of equipment based on the Q-SYS Ecosystem, driven by a Q-SYS Core 8 Flex, conferring with QSC technical support directly to confirm suitability. Given the requirement for high quality aesthetic finish to the room and the amount of speakers required to provide the best audio solution throughout the space, it was decided to opt for 15x Q-SYS NL-C4 ceiling speakers that work over a network, rather than direct cabled speakers. This also meant that the room audio could easily be routed to anywhere, satisfying the requirement to be divisible. Darren adds: “The speakers selected are mostly being used to route far end participant audio and are working very well for that purpose, providing clear audio.”

Diogo Scutti, Application Support Engineer at Audiologic led the project design added: “Using Q-SYS, the design allows for a huge amount of flexibility - not only within the room but with the ability to route control, audio and video feeds between systems.”

For the front of house speakers, Darren again opted for a networked amplifier for similar reasons, with Q-SYS speakers as that had the correct output for the size of the space. Darren continues “I am very happy with their treble and bass outputs as a great all-round speaker.”

For the ceiling microphones, Sennheiser TCC2s were selected to maintain continuity throughout the university, with Darren confirming their confidence in them “We are very happy with their performance in this and other spaces across campus - they work well with the rest of our Sennhesier mic systems in the Cockpit software, allowing remote monitoring and control which is important to us, being a large estate.”

Sennheiser Speechline series microphones were used for voice lift, routed to ceiling speakers for clarity throughout the room. Due to the complexity of the space, the programming has been constantly tweaked based on customer feedback and room use.

Chris Jones, Application Support Engineer at Audiologic looked after the commissioning of the project, comments: “Darren sought flexibility for the space, aiming to route video from any lectern position to any display, with wireless microphones reinforcing sound in the chosen presentation area only. Automation was key, with features like PIP on side displays activating or deactivating based on the content shown on central displays. Q-SYS facilitated easy automation through scripting, simplifying control of third-party devices like NEC displays.”

Future-proofing spaces at the University is imperative and as it is anticipated that the use of the room may change over time, this was taken into account so changes can be accommodated with minor programming tweaks, rather than large scale equipment purchases.

Diogo added: “The space was designed from the outset to have futureproofing built in, spare amplifier and Flex audio channels on the core and plenty of DSP headroom - the system will be suitable for many years to come, while being able to accommodate any changing needs within the space.”

Darren concludes: “The finish is excellent and it looks and operates like a high-end event space for both near and far-end participants. We have crisp, clear audio throughout the space, when using Program Audio, Local microphones or Hybrid meetings over Zoom or Microsoft Teams. The programming provided by Audiologic provides excellent quality videoconferencing to near and far-end users, whether using the Lectern PC or BYOD.”