The Singapore Management University (SMU) is home to over 12,000 students across undergraduate, postgraduate professional and postgraduate research programmes, and its seminar rooms are used for up to 15 hours a day. Faculty and instructors utilize Learning Space Technologies to conduct classes, hence microphones need to be fully charged before classes begin. When battery levels are low, onsite agents from IT support are tasked to replace batteries immediately. Therefore, being able to monitor the battery life, gain level, as well as EQ settings of the microphones remotely to ensure that they are always ready has been critical, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic when online classes were conducted.
100 channels of SpeechLine Digital Wireless were installed across 5 buildings on the SMU campus. The microphone system, which is controlled via the Control Cockpit Software, solved the problem of sudden and unexpected battery failure as well as the constant need to replace batteries. With this upgrade, SMU has a stable and reliable audio-visual environment that can provide an outstanding audio experience for its students and employees.
SMU has 8 buildings, 126 seminar rooms, 3 halls and 5 event spaces. The seminar rooms can be utilized for up to 15 hours a day, catering to both day and night classes. During the Covid-19 period, 15 to 30 hybrid classes were conducted every morning. With students participating virtually, microphones and audio quality play a key role in this new way of conducting classes. The SpeechLine Digital Wireless is a reliable system that helps to ensure audio clarity daily.
Prior to the installation of SpeechLine Digital Wireless and the usage of Control Cockpit Software, the SMU on-site engineers could not monitor the microphones remotely and had to carry bags of rechargeable batteries around campus to ensure that the microphones had fresh ones all the time. In addition, when a microphone transmitter goes missing, emails had to be sent to all users of the room on that day to locate the missing device. The engineering team also faced other challenges, such as having to manually adjust the microphone equalizer settings as well as radio frequency range. New updates also could not be pushed digitally to the transmitters via the network. All these important processes required the engineers to be physically present – which was extremely labor-intensive and time consuming.
Work smarter, not harder. An improved working and learning experience at Singapore Management University
On a typical school day, the microphones are switched on at around 8.00 AM to prepare for the classes which usually begin shortly after. Once they are switched on, the status of the microphones will be reflected on the Control Cockpit. Workflows for the SMU on-site engineers are now streamlined and much more efficient, with the ability to monitor and manage everything on the backend from their laptops and mobile devices. Besides remotely identifying seminar rooms that are using microphones, the Control Cockpit can also check on battery health and monitor the output levels of each microphone. This allows the engineers to render assistance in advance or swiftly when required.
The SMU team is glad to have access to a 3-band custom equalizer which gives them the flexibility to fine-tune and quickly eliminate feedback issues. When necessary, on-site engineers can sit at the back of the seminar room to adjust the mix of the microphone for the faculty. Furthermore, the engineers can also restrict the microphone range within individual rooms based on the venue size. They will receive notifications when a microphone is out of range or brought out of the room. The location and time of these incidents will be captured and a follow-up with the user can be easily arranged.
Besides having a range of microphones that operate in the 2.4 GHz and UHF range which are reliable and commonly used in Singapore, the University now has microphones on the DECT 1.9 GHz bandwidth which is a useful and future-proof investment. The devices, which operate on 3 different bandwidths, allow SMU to make comparisons on the dropout rates and quality of audio during classes or events. The automatic frequency management function has also made deployment much easier.
Faculty and students are happy with the elevated user and audio experience brought about by the new audio solutions. These include:
• For face-to-face classes, due to the size of the seminar rooms, the faculty rely on the SpeechLine Digital Wireless microphone system to preserve their voices and to ensure that their delivery is intelligible and clear.
• For virtual classes, the audio is captured by SpeechLine Digital Wireless and sent directly through the SMU’s network to students who are participating remotely. SpeechLine Digital Wireless plays a crucial role in ensuring that students enjoy good and reliable sound quality in a focused learning environment during the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the installation of Sennheiser’s SpeechLine Digital Wireless and Control Cockpit Software, the SMU Learning Space Technology team has improved their processes and workflow. The University invested in the wireless system to enhance its audio capabilities in hybrid learning and continue to provide a world-class experience for its faculty and students.