The Powersoft Ottocanali amplifier platform is one of the cornerstones of a new audio paging and background music system recently implemented at Caesars Windsor casino and hotel in Ontario in a project handled by the integration team of Montreal-based Solotech.
The venue was equipped with its original audio system in 2008, but with the supplier having sent an end-of-life notice in 2018 and Caesars corporate changing its minimum standards, an update was in order. “As well as the end-of-life notice, we soon realized that we couldn’t upgrade the Windows portion of the old system without upgrading the hardware to match,” says Brian Drouillard, manager of audio visual at Caesars Windsor.
Drouillard had already been working with Solotech on upgrading audio systems in the facililty’s hotel ballrooms and meeting rooms spoke with its on-site technicians first to determine if they had any recommendations. “We did a cost/functionality analysis to determine what would be best for us, then contacted Solotech as soon as we were ready,” he says. “Solotech has been a wonderful working partner already, having completed a number of jobs for us in the past, both on time and on budget, with the design and functionality demanded of a world class venue.”
Drouillard was then tasked with providing Peter Lima, senior systems designer/QSC Q-SYS software programmer for Solotech, with all of the functionality requirement as well as all of the documentation on the old system and any changes made throughout the years. “My first job was to confirm the interoperability and functionality of the amplifiers in relation to the Q-SYS ecosystem,” notes Lima. “I knew about Powersoft’s Ottocanali amplifier platforms after seeing them at Infocomm and ISE but I’d never had chance to get my hands on one. Through our distributor, we requested a demo amplifier, so that we could model and test the feature set and AES67 interoperability between Q-SYS and Powersoft.”
Lima set up the Ottocanali amplifiers to receive the AES67 audio streams and to fully test the Powersoft Q-SYS plug-ins. “The challenge was to have the network QoS (Quality of Service) settings to provide reliability of the audio-over-IP,” he explains. “To overcome these challenges, Solotech set up all the amplifiers and network switches in the shop for a full ‘burn in’ period and monitored the audio streams to see if they would be affected by different end point devices. We also tested the functionality of the amplifiers’ analog inputs to the Q-SYS cores, as this was a requirement from the site.”
The main DSP is provided by Q-SYS, configured and connected through the existing network switches throughout the property to feed groups of amplifiers in five remote locations. Background music supplier Cloud Cover,also supplied 10 of its Android-based boxes to provide custom music around the property.
“From a design aspect, obviously the ability to be network connected is an upgrade in terms of us providing flexibility for growth and design adjustment if required,” Drouillard says. “From a user standpoint, the physical size of the amplifiers allowed to remove two thirds of the racks that were used in the old system, and the front displays indicating dB level for each channel is a wonderful tool for trouble shooting and the diagnostic/configuring access.”
Solotech monitored the network for AES67 stream stability during a “burn in” period, with the amplifiers performing flawlessly during this time. “I think this system is now completely futureproof,” said Drouillard. “If they add a restaurant, for example, we can easily install an amplifier, connect it to the network and incorporate it into the system as if it had always been there.
“It was an absolute pleasure to work with Peter and the group from Solotech who helped support and position Caesars Windsor in a place where we have complete freedom to customise our system as we see fit. This would not have been possible if not for the line of Powersoft products from both a functional and budgetary perspective. Powersoft provided all of the features and output power that we required at a budget level that allowed us to proceed with a complete system replacement.”
Solotech undertook a complete facility setup of all of the Powersoft amplifiers prior to shipping, which allowed Lima and his team to work out the configurations and AES67 stream issues with the installed network switches. Powersoft was also on-hand throughout this period to provide any necessary support. “I feel having the in-house staff as part of the turnover process to be the best hands on training for them,” Lima says. “Each member of the technical team has been going through webinar training, with class training being impossible. The Powersoft team is far superior in support and integrating comments into new firmware releases. I cannot say enough of the support that they provided.”
Mark Radu, senior systems designer at Solotech, concludes, “Powersoft has been on the leading edge of technology since its inception. Constantly reaching out into the marketplace, staying ahead of the curve, developing innovative product and functionality. Their level of service and support is second to none. From their business development and sales management teams through to their R&D and Engineering departments, their commitment is first class. An attitude that carries through to our domestic distribution and sales representation.