It was a challenge to bring it all together: Michael Cooper on SCA’s new studios

Last month, we ran a picture story about the new SCA Adelaide offices and now radioinfo speaks to Michael Cooper, Technology Manager for the project.

Now that the installation is all over, Michael and his team are satisfied that all their hard work has paid off.

How long did the fit out take? 

Planning started about 2 years ago and the fit out of the project took around 6 months.

How did you approach the task of deciding what equipment to install?

Southern Cross Austereo has a standard list of equipment & systems. Unless there is a good reason, we try to keep it the same for all new builds. This makes it easier for staff to transition between different locations. At the end of the day it comes down to the best products for our requirements and within our budget. We did relocate many systems from our existing building; basically anything from the past 5 years we moved, which was a logistical challenge!

What did you choose for the studio peripherals (mics, arms, soundproofing, etc)?

The microphones we use are Neumann KMS 105’s, again this is our preferred standard mic so that all talent sound the same no matter which market they are in. The mic & monitor arms in studios are built by Yellowtec, and we did have a few custom made solutions in some areas such as producers and production. Soundproofing was custom made by an Australian company, it took several weeks just to install the hundreds of panels! The studio furniture was all custom made by a local joiner.

During the planning phase of the project we really wanted the staff to have a say in how the furniture would function and it was a collaboration between Content, Production, News & Engineering. With regards to the on air desk layout, we really wanted a clear line of sight between each person and wanted to avoid “a wall of screens”. The main on air desks are height adjustable and the windows have motorised blinds. Monitor speakers are by Sonodyne and cue speakers by Genelec. The master clock system was developed in house and is distributed on a HDTV channel around the building.

Which playout system did you choose?

We relocated our existing play out system, Maestro which is still running in all of our metro stations. 

What desk did you use and why? Are the announcers happy with it after a couple of weeks using it?
 The Southern Cross Austereo standard on air console is the Axia Element. We have a combination of a 16 fader model for on air and 6 fader model for news. We also have an 8 fader Axia iQ in one of our Remote Talent studios. The things you can do with the Livewire technology is amazing, what used to take weeks to configure (soldering, wiring, multimeters etc) in an analog world can now be done with a bit of brain power and a few clicks on a keyboard. Announcers are happy with the new consoles, its taking a bit to get used to but they are very flexible.

Any other technical details (rack equipment, etc)?

The backup power generator, custom made antenna platform, and air con outdoor units were some of the most challenging technical elements for this project. These items all needed to be lifted up 17 stories, we needed the largest mobile crane available and had to close down a city street for an entire day. Other systems we use include Voxpro5, PhoneBOX4 and Newsboss. Production use the latest version of Protools. We also went with an audio over IP in house PA system which has some great functionality by Stagetec. 

Did you use a single company to do the installation, or did you choose the equipment from various suppliers and install it with your own team?

The structured cabling was installed as part of the building fit out which included all the base MCR & studio cabling. However all the specialist technical installation was completed by SCA engineers and contractors of SCA. 

Anything else of interest to radioinfo readers?

In our old premises, hit107 was on the top floor and Triple M on the ground floor. Our new building is one floor and It was a challenge to bring two brands together yet keep their own identity, our architects and designers filled the brief really well and it seems to be working. We also used the space well with some areas being multipurpose. By using an operable wall and moveable furniture, our staff café and boardroom can be utilised in a variety of ways, such as for a formal boardroom meeting or an entertainment area for up to 100 people.