In large-scale settings, audio intelligibility is an important factor for effective communication between collaborators. For high-stakes environments such as the Judiciary of Colorado, it’s absolutely essential. Testimonies, directives from judges, and real-time interpretation require a combination of crystal clear audio and dependable distribution capabilities to eliminate any chance of miscommunication during high-level proceedings. Denver’s Ralph L. Carr Judicial Center and more than 100 courtrooms across the state have been fitted with Biamp Systems’ innovative portfolio of digital signal processing (DSP) audio products – allowing Colorado’s judicial system to implement failsafe audio within its new 12-story facility, completed in 2012, and in every connected facility within the state’s court system.
Historically, courtroom design has favored resonant architectural materials such as marble, concrete, and granite – causing acoustic complications and intelligibility challenges whenever audio solutions are deployed. Although microphone and speaker placement can help minimize the challenges of structural reverberation, the mission-critical requirements of courtroom environments mean satisfying reliability standards that go beyond the needs of large-sized facilities. To keep audio running consistently across the entire Judiciary of Colorado, project managers were seeking to implement an audio system that could be monitored and serviced remotely in order to provide dependable communication such as remote conferencing, judge communications, real-time interpretation, and testimonial interviews on a single digital network. This meant upgrading analog systems across Colorado while fitting the $258 million Ralph L. Carr Judicial Center with innovative audio distribution throughout its Supreme Court courtroom, Court of Appeals, and floors providing conferencing and training sessions.
“Courtroom architecture has traditionally been a problem for effective audio delivery,” said Jason Roberts, Senior Sales/Engineer, LVW Electronics. “Although most system designers understand the basics of reverberant materials, heritage environments still need to consider factors such as number of participants, the positioning of people and furniture, and how a room’s changing temperature can affect acoustic performance. These requirements – in both retrofits and new installations – make a strong case for highly customizable audio solutions that can be tweaked to accommodate a setting’s specific structural properties, and are applicable whether we’re dealing with people speaking to each other over microphones or on a network across the state.”
To satisfy the Colorado courtrooms’ acoustic environments, integrator LVW Electronics installed Biamp’s DSP solutions across the statewide system. The process began with the installation at the Denver Courthouse. Once that installation was complete, networking spread to all 64 counties in the state of Colorado as each county’s legacy stand-alone system was upgraded. Connection to the network was part of the upgrade project. As a result, AV staff is able to use innovations such as mix-minus, echo cancellation, and other custom audio tools to compensate for structural complications such as large convex ceilings or thick, reverberant construction materials. The ability to digitally adjust audio also enhances sound quality on digital recording equipment for better public records, improves comprehension during remote conferencing and interpretation of testimonies, and increases intelligibility within courtrooms for parties speaking via microphones. Support for distance court interpretation is a significant breakthrough for the Colorado justice system, particularly for speakers of less common languages that are not covered by a county’s staff interpreters, and in areas of the state that lack a dedicated interpreter staff. All interpretation occurs in real-time. Colorado’s innovative distance interpretation system represents a significant breakthrough, and serves as a model for other states that are seeking to improve language support services. Since DSP audio resides on the court’s existing network, AV staff can also monitor the health of the entire Colorado-wide installation from a central location – allowing troubleshooting of audio issues before the comprehension of proceedings becomes compromised.