Council Room for the Town of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
NILES, Ill. — For years, the Regina Town Council (in Saskatchewan, Canada) struggled with unreliable audio at public meetings, despite having a high-tech wireless system in place. Regional installation and rental expert Professional Audio-Visual Ltd. — better known as Pro AV — was called in to rectify the problem. After assessing the existing system and the council’s need for reliability, intelligibility, and ease of use, Derek Yan, Pro AV's director of sales and service, recommended a dedicated digital discussion system: the Shure DDS 5900.
“The previous system used infrared wireless technology and was just not appropriate in the council’s meeting scenario,” said Yan. “It was clear that a hardwired system was a far better option in nearly every respect— easy to install, easy to operate, and far more reliable. We presented the Shure DDS 5900 as the option that would best address both their current and future needs.”
The DDS 5900 digital discussion system uses integrated desktop microphones and speakers to enable up to 250 meeting participants to hear and be heard clearly. For the Regina Town Council, 28 discussion units were required to serve the mayor, the council and administrative officers. All stations are connected to a single central control unit, the CU 5905, which acts as the “brains” of the system, providing power and automated audio control. Each discussion station combines a personal speaker with a low-profile gooseneck microphone and can be set in four different operation modes.
Yan was impressed with the ease of installation and use of the DDS 5900.
“Because the conference tables already had access points drilled in, we chose the portable discussion units (Model DC 5980 P), which literally installed in minutes,” he said. “All we had to do was plug in a Cat5e cable underneath, going from station to station in a daisy chain leading back to the central unit, which is hidden away. Adding more stations is just as simple, which accommodates future expansion. It also gives us easy access for service, which was an important consideration.”
Ease of operation was another important factor, and one at which the Shure DDS 5900 excels.
“The entire system is controlled with browser-based software, which can run on any computer, smartphone, or tablet,” said Yan. “It’s a simple interface that activates the stations and shows which mics are on and off. I spent about an hour training them on an iPad, and haven’t had a single call with questions or problems. Compared to the previous system, it’s like night and day.”
View of desk mics
After the system was in place, the council was immediately impressed with the improved sound quality. With individual speakers for each participant, everyone can hear clearly, with no danger of feedback. The system’s audio output is also ported to a press bridge and to a separate house sound system for the gallery. Audience participation is enabled through a dedicated delegate discussion station.
The council has set up the microphones in push-to-talk mode, so anyone wishing to speak simply touches the discussion unit to activate or mute their mic. With the “auto off” feature, available in all modes except VOX mode, the DDS 5900 turns the microphone off after a duration of no sound, which is adjustable from five to 60 seconds. This is handy in a push-to-talk configuration like this one, because it prevents microphones from being left on accidentally.
Another attractive feature is that each microphone has a light ring around its element. The ring lights up when the mic is active, making it easy for everyone to see who is talking.
“In terms of installation, operation, and overall sound quality, everyone involved is extremely happy,” Yan said. “Sound quality is vastly improved, with no dropouts, and everything is audible. The software lets them remotely control every station, which was a huge concern for them. And since we installed the DDS 5900, we haven’t had a single callback for training or service, which is a huge change for all concerned.”
The Regina Town Council can expand its use of the system as time goes on.
“Obviously, adding more stations is a possibility, but there are other capabilities that might also become useful in the future,” Yan said. “They might want simultaneous translation, or they could add a digital recorder to archive the meetings. We can even interface the system for videoconferencing.”
Derek Yan is confident that this was the right choice for the Regina Town Council.
“When you look at the design of the DDS 5900, you can tell that it's stamped with Shure quality,” he said. “It was easy to install, easy to use, it sounds great, and never fails.”