Named one of the top 50 universities worldwide, Melbourne’s, Monash University recently called on Audio Visual Design Manager and lead architect Peter MacLean to overhaul its sound set-up in line with its migration from analogue VGA video to HDMI digital.

Over the past decade, MacLean has worked with Monash University to define what a new A/V system needed to do to improve the learning experience. Some of these requirements included natural sound with high speech intelligibility, as well as reliability and ease=of-installation. From there, MacLean designed a new set of standards for the audiovisual team to follow when implementing new systems – standards that are updated as technology advances and academic needs change.

Based on these requirements, as well as exhaustive listening tests of various loudspeaker options, the team landed on multiple solutions from Eastern Acoustic Works (EAW).

Melbourne%u2019s, Monash University Lecture Hall‘For us, it’s all about connecting the students to the academic – creating an environment where students are immersed in learning and better able to understand and contextualise the concepts and topics being taught,’ MacLean says. ‘EAW speakers stood out to us due to their presence and intelligibility, which made audio much easier to understand and more relaxing to follow. This also prevents burn out for students with hours of lectures. EAW plays a big part in delivering an effective learning environment.’

More than 1,000 EAW speakers are used across Monash’s five Melbourne campuses, as well as its international campuses. These include CIS300 Ceiling-Mounted two-way loudspeakers in the larger flat floor collaborative learning spaces, with the smaller and medium-sized lecture spaces featuring MK8100, VFR and UB Series loudspeakers for FOH and delay. In the larger theatres, the biggest of which can seat around 400 students, Monash has installed QX300 Series Trapezoidal Enclosure Speakers along with the MK8100 series for delay. The Caufield Campus also features an EAW Anna and Otto ADAPTive System as part of a large outdoor LED screen for concerts, providing controlled sound in a difficult environment.

All of Monash’s lecture theatres additionally use the LS series small line source speakers for ceiling mounted foldback. Its Biomedical Learning & Teaching Building allows between four classes of student classes or a single class of 240 students in five Flexi Labs, enabling the university to maximise space usage and minimise cost. This is made possible with the use ofvery directional EAW LS432 small line source speakers, with two mounted in the ceiling above each of six tables in each lab.

With the new sound systems, MacLean notes that intelligibility is better than ever: ‘The EAW speakers made lectures sound like the academic was right in front of me, even from the back of the room,’ he says. ‘We sat in on a lecture with the upgrade system and despite distance and accents, the audio was clear with no distortion or harshness and exceptional intelligibility, which is the polar opposite of the originalsystem. Students were no longer distracted by a tablet or personal device, and to us that means the improved audio allowed for greater concentration, engagement and actual effective learning to take place. We found this to be consistent across all models and series of EAW speakers, in all our learning spaces. It eased our design process knowing that we were going to get dependable results from EAW.’

This reliability can be seen even in more challenging spaces, like the new Woodside Building for Technology & Design, which has a large, open informal space at the south end of the building with reflective timber stairs. Here, AC6 loudspeakers allowed the design team to direct the sound to the seating area, with high presence and intelligibility and significantly lowered reverberation. Monash’s latest 90-student flat floor space is also currently still in the works. It features a complex open ceiling, so the EAW MKC50 loudspeakers were chosen and will be hung and pointed down to replicate traditional ceiling speakers.

‘It’s a very challenging space acoustically, but the MKCs are really going to help us achieve the balance we need,’MacLean says. ‘They have such high speech intelligibility and match perfectly with the amplifiers to create a very impressive end result. The DSP included in EAW UXA4401 amplifiers has also been great. It allows, with the focusing grey box, for a smoother and richer sound, and simple, consistent installation using pre-prepared DSP templates. There are no tweaks or fine-tuning necessary by the installers. It has made things very easy for our A/V integrators.’

This new space is part of Monash’splan to upgrade the A/V systems around its campus. As new projects or upgrades are needed, MacLean and team consistently test industry-standard systems to ensure that the university gets the best solution at the right price.

‘It’s really critical that we get the right speakers for our set-up, and a lot of the time that ends up being EAW,’ he says. ‘EAW makes very reliable speakers, so we’ve had very few failures, even on systems that have been in and running for ten years now. They’re still delivering the same sound quality as the day they were installed.’


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