EV’S Iris‑Net & Netmax Simplify Life & Extend Potential of UK Conference Facility

February 13, 2007

The Amalfi Suite, the adjacent Vesuvio Restaurant, and the overarching Sharnbrook Hotel are, in theory, three separate entities, but, under the ownership of the Ciampi family, they become the answer to many a company prayer - an easily accessible conference facility with heaps of parking space, separate bar and restaurant, and extensive accommodation on site.

“IRIS‑Net is much more than a device configuration utility”

Built from scratch in the latter part of 2006, the venue’s 2007 diary is already packed with reservations from local companies for the endlessly flexible combination of meeting facilities.

The cleverly planned Amalfi Suite uses a moveable wall system. The same space that can host a wedding breakfast for 300 guests can be divided into 3 small conference rooms for 40 people each, or a conference room with private dining room, or a theatre-style lecture hall for 80, 120 or 250. Direct access, plus dedicated bar facilities, enhance its corporate appeal, and make it perfect for large social events.

Flexibility is further increased by the potential of the Vesuvio restaurant next door, which has 120 covers, and can be used in conjunction with any or all of the function room spaces in the Amalfi Suite. Both venues have their own separate bars.

Venue operators the Ciampi family called in local installation company A.I.S (Audio Installation Services) of Bedford to devise an audio system that would not only match this flexibility, but also enhance the environments. Luke Magliaro of A.I.S. in turn called in the services of David Howe of Shuttlesound, Projects Support Specialist for Electro-Voice in the UK.

“Initially, the design brief from the client was pretty straightforward,“ explains David, “they simply wanted to send any audio signal from any area into any other area of the hotel. Not an unreasonable request but managing all the local inputs from the function suite, conference rooms, bars, restaurant and the multiple satellite TV and CD/DVD sources in some form of logical, and most importantly non-technical manner, using conventional analogue mixers and patch panels would have been quite a tall order.“

The Electro-Voice NetMax N8000 audio processing and matrix system was the obvious choice for both David Howe and Luke Magliaro, who was already specifying Electro-Voice speakers throughout the venue. The N8000 is a fully programmable DSP (digital signal processor) engine with an extensive array of audio processing devices available. There are a wide variety of mixer and matrix routing devices plus a complete armory of all the usual toolbox items like multiple parametric and graphic EQ filter options, crossovers, delays, compressors, duckers and ambient noise compensation devices. Says David Howe, “because it is digital, the designer has complete control over where each device is placed in the signal path. This sort of technology really helps to future-proof a system because it can be completely reconfigured if the clients’ requirements ever change.“

Facility panels are installed around the function suite, conference rooms and restaurant, and any one of them can be used to connect up anything from a radio microphone to a PC, DJ or even a band. To handle the unknown, each input has its own EQ, dynamics control and a noise gate to keep things under control, while each loudspeaker output has its own processing for EQ, crossovers, delay and limiter protection. Everything was done inside the N8000 and safely locked away with password protection.

According to Howe, the key to the success of the project centered around the IRIS-Net software platform. “IRIS-Net is much more than a device configuration utility, it’s a single platform for a whole host of EV devices from the N8000 to our remote control amplifiers, stand-alone loudspeaker processors like the Dx38 and very soon the new REV radio microphone system too. Being able to configure, control and supervise an entire audio system with one single software has huge benefits for system integration, not to mention the enormous increase in flexibility this gives the designer. It also supports multiple control protocols including TCP/IP, CobraNet™, RS232/485, CAN and USB so all the bases are covered.“

A network of computers in the bars, restaurant, function suite, reception and the main office runs EV’s control software IRIS-Net but staff only see a simple-to-use control screen for the designated area, specially designed by David Howe. They click on a button to select the audio source they want and adjust the volume of the local speakers to the level they want. Nothing could be simpler, and they remain happily oblivious to the fact that, in the background, IRIS-Net is reconfiguring everything for them, setting the routing, the EQ, the delay, the level or whatever is appropriate.

“One particular area that did need some extra thought was the conference rooms,“ continues Howe. “There are three rooms which can be used independently or together in various combinations. Initially, we gave them a separate IRIS-Net control page for each room combination on the local computer. The user could select the room layout required from a set of graphical picture buttons and be taken to the appropriate controls. However, during testing, we noticed that it could be possible for a user to navigate accidentally to the wrong layout which meant they could potentially adjust the volume or the audio source in one of the adjacent rooms without realising. Fortunately the flexibility of IRIS-Net allowed us to change a few things on the control screens so now, if they end up at the control page for a room combination that isn’t active, all the controls are hidden and completely inaccessible. An on-screen message appears to let them know just what to do. It’s the little things like these that can really make the user experience that much more positive.“

Throughout the venue, A.I.S has installed Electro-Voice EViD C8.2 ceiling speakers, 36 in total. For the Vesuvio restaurant, Luke Magliaro has supplemented the C8.2s with 4x Zx1is, a big-sounding compact wall-mounted speaker system that’s easy to install, in white to match the décor. In the function suite, a ’dance floor’ system of 4x compact 12-inch two-way EV Sx100+ speakers, also in white, has been paired with 2x Eliminator I 18“ subwoofers, installed below the stage. Monitoring is provided by 4x flown EViD 6.2s. All amplification is by EV’s Q66 and Q44 models. The audio network extends outside into a seasonal marquee, and even to ’rock’ speakers in the car park.

A.I.S. has handled the entire AV installation, including fitting plasma screens and projectors in the restaurant and function suite. For larger events that use both venues, a live video relay can be broadcast over the entire complex. During the day, the screens are used to show a selection of cleverly commissioned black-and-white Italian films, bringing some subtle movement to the venue’s contemporary interior design.

David Howe attributes the success of this extensively networked system to IRIS-Net and the N8000. “They’ve allowed us to fulfill the design brief entirely. Any input can be sent to any output but it’s all been done with very non-technical user screens: what goes on behind the scenes is a bit more complex but the user doesn’t need to know about that!“

A.I.S (Audio Installation Services)Shuttlesound


Guy Low

Public Relations Producer

Bosch Communications Systems

Telex Communications, Inc.

12000 Portland Ave. South

Burnsville, MN 55337

Phone: 952-736-3935

Fax: 952-736-4582

James Edlund

Public Relations Manager

Bosch Communications Systems

Telex Communications, Inc.

12000 Portland Ave. South

Burnsville, MN 55337

Phone: 952-736-3901

Fax: 952-736-4582

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