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LEA Professional’s Dante Connect Series Amplifiers Installed at The University of Michigan

The University of Michigan is considered one of the top schools in the country and is often one of the most innovative. So, it’s not surprising that when the University was building out its new Central Campus Classroom Building (CCCB) they chose an equally innovative partner in LEA Professional.

The CCCB is a state-of-the-art instructional facility that houses over 1,400 classroom seats and is designed to support large innovative and interactive classes. The building includes multiple flat-floored, team-based-learning  classrooms with 132, 150, and 162 seats, a unique 190-seat ‘classroom in the round’ and over 350 informal seats throughout the building for students to study and collaborate with each other.

This impressive new build, however, needed an equally impressive audio system. For the University of Michigan’s College of Literature, Science and the Arts AV Engineering Team flexibility was key. Previously, the team at the University had used industry-leading, high-quality, cloud- and IoT-based pro-audio amplifiers from LEA Professional. It was their amplifier of choice on similar projects including in the relatively new School of Kinesiology Building. Having seen the performance and dynamism of the amps, they knew they would be a good fit for this large new initiative as well.

Jeremy Gerick and Christopher Elly, Senior AV Project Engineers on the project, installed 20 LEA Professional Dante Connect Series amplifiers for maximum coverage, a mixture of 354D, 704D, 84D and 702D. The Dante Connect Series amplifiers are suited for small- to medium-scale installations. With a choice of two-, four-, and eight-channel systems, these Dante-ready amplifiers feature direct HiZ (70V or 100V) or LoZ, selectable by channel. Large or small, designing an audio system based on Dante-connected devices offers many benefits, including nearly limitless system flexibility and scalability, allowing a small AV team to operate as a much larger one, as well as the ability to decentralize system processing, set various zones and presets, and easily reconfigure the system as necessary.

“This project was quite expansive so we chose to install only Dante-enabled components, including the Dante version of the Connect Series,” said Gerick. “This gave us the utmost flexibility, ensuring all elements of the system could ‘talk’ to each other, avoiding any connectivity issues.”

When it came to the installation of the amplifiers, the LEA Professional Web UI proved extremely useful to the team both as a time saver and a cost saver. The Web UI is LEA Professional’s browser-based interface which allows local monitoring of every amplifier connected to the network from any phone, tablet, or PC. In addition, it allows users to view the status of every channel on any given amp. This allowed Gerick to constantly monitor the system during install so if there was an issue it could be immediately flagged and dealt with.

With safety protocols being front of mind, the build out of any large audio system at the university needs to incorporate a fire alarm cut off system. This ensures that when the fire alarm is sounded, the amps power down so announcements can be heard.

In this case, a fire inspector needed to evaluate that function on the amps before the rest of the system was installed. To do this the team utilized the Web UI, getting the amplifier toning and then connecting it to the relay control power supply to showcase the fire alarm cut off capability. This function saved the fire inspector an additional trip to the university after the system was built and saved the team significant time during the installation process.

Outside of the Web UI, the amplifiers, which are used to drive the PA system, as well as the main speakers for lecture content etc., had many features that Gerick and team were very impressed with.

“The amps themselves have a good user interface, the ability to switch between 70 volt and LowZ is extremely valuable to us, as well as the ability to do impedance measurements on the speaker loads,” explained Gerick.

In the future, the University plans to use the Connect Series Crestron Control Module to control and monitor essential functions and features within the LEA amplifiers. Third-party control plugins like these are part of the LEA Professional control ecosystem and ensure that LEA products play well with other systems so integrators can always depend on LEA for any installation requirements.

The team praised the customer service they received from the amplification technology company and plans to install the Connect Series in the University’s Modern Languages Building Lecture Room 2, which is being designed as a small cinema experience featuring 5.1 surround sound and a 4K DCI projector from Sony.

“The customer support is truly excellent at LEA, anytime I had a question I knew I could contact them and get an answer almost immediately,” explained Gerick. “We have had great feedback on the system so far and having LEA play well with all our other components has made my job that bit easier.”

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