Educating with d&b at Oxley College

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Nestled in the leafy outer fringes on the eastern edge of Melbourne lies Oxley Christian College, a school that provides education for about one thousand children, aged between four to eighteen years. In order to offer a more intimate space than their large school hall and to support its strong sense of community, the decision was made to build a brand new performing arts centre. This space was not simply to be a stage for performing arts; it would have to fulfil the myriad of functions that fill any school’s academic year. One week it might have to host a full scale student drama and music production playing to two hundred and fifty, the next it could be hosting a lecture or parents’ evening. The College, bolstered by a significant grant from the Federal Government, set about turning their plans into reality.

The new space would require a discreet, yet flexible, sound reinforcement system to compliment the intimate nature of the design, a stage that is level with the front row of the audience with the remainder of the seating set on a steep rake to bring even the back rows closer to the stage. Chris Hodge, theatre and AV manager of the Centre explains further, “When it came to the PA, the College originally approached four companies. My predecessor, Phil Mawson, was committed to acquiring a premium loudspeaker system so d&b audiotechnik were always on the agenda. Through National Audio Systems, the sole distributor for d&b in Australia, the College approached the audio visual company, Mozaix who are based in nearby Berwick. We were impressed by both the recommendations of other clients and their very positive attitude and general ethos. We also wanted to ensure local support for the system.”

System Integrator, Paul Tucker from Mozaix continues, “We did a shoot-out against an installed system in the church associated with Oxley College. This PA was physically much larger and certainly looked like it should outperform the d&b T-Series loudspeakers we took in. Instead, the tiny little d&b loudspeaker stack on the floor comprising two T-SUBs and three T10s absolutely blew away the opposition. The vocals really cut through, the music was full without any nasty frequencies, and the subwoofers were kicking. When we A/B’d the systems in front of the client their decision was made in an instant, from that shoot-out they were going to do whatever they could to make sure d&b went in. It just goes to show that, certainly in the audio market, bigger is not necessarily better, either in sound or in value for money.” As always, budget was a mitigating factor but as Tucker says, “Everyone has a financial limit and quite frankly, I don’t think they expected us to meet it. But with some minor compromises we met their target. Budget is always important but d&b carries so much weight that it sells itself.”

In conjunction with System Designer, Dave Jacques from NAS, Tucker put forward a design comprising loudspeakers from the Ti-Series, the T-Series cabinets explicitly designed for permanent installation from the Black range; Ti10Ls supported by Ti-SUBs and driven by d&b D6 and D12 amplifiers. The system is rigged as a line array split equally stage left and right. As Hodge remarks, “The speaker system needed to be as discreet and as inconspicuous as possible for aesthetic considerations while still providing a wide coverage. The subwoofers therefore are at the top of the array to build a compact single unit. As the building was new and didn’t present any major acoustic challenges, the quality of sound and the visual effect were our major objectives.”

Tucker continues in similar vein, “Although some walls have been treated with acoustic baffles, the space is fairly live to accommodate un-amplified pieces and because the performance space extends all the way into the seats the need for a fairly tight patterned PA was important. To provide a user friendly system for students and teachers we set up essentially two user modes: performance mode (theatre, musical performance, church meetings) and lecture mode (for classes, school assemblies etc). Through an integrated AMX control system we were able to automate the lecture mode with the Yamaha M7 digital mixing console to make a fairly complex system respond easily for teachers.”

The centre was opened by the State Minister for Education, the Hon Martin Dixon MP where it was officially named The Broadley Performing Arts Centre in honour of the College’s Principal of over twenty year’s standing. As Hodge concludes, “The auditorium is a much welcomed addition to the college facilities. We are particularly pleased with the installation and performance of the loudspeaker system; it far exceeds the expected output and quality of sound within the space. From a full on concert like our opening show to the smallest of lectures, the speaker system really does the business.”

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