Reliability in uncertain times: Sennheiser solutions ensure high-quality hybrid learning at Aix-Marseille Université
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic forced Aix-Marseille Université (AMU) to adapt and quickly set up remote teaching solutions for all students who could no longer attend classes on-site.
AMU equipped about 300 rooms with new, IT-focused AV equipment, plus about ten amphitheaters that are equipped for the most part with video conferencing systems for recording. With the trend of hybrid learning, numerous microphones were installed and connected to cameras to capture the sound.
Since spring of 2020, high-quality AV technologies at Aix-Marseille Université (AMU) have made it possible to continue teaching with the usual quality. The number of projects undertaken to update the facilities shows the extraordinary impetus of the new requests for hybrid teaching and for IT support: The AV team has installed more than 1,300 pieces of equipment in 126 lecture theatres and 1,025 rooms. These include the installation of more than 117 new Sennheiser SpeechLine Digital Wireless microphones as well as 31 TeamConnect Ceiling 2 microphones. Both products can be remote controlled with the Control Cockpit software, the flagship of Sennheiser’s network technologies.
By planning the equipment of several hundred classrooms, AMU’s AV team focused on solutions that are simple and intuitive to guarantee total autonomy on part of the teachers. With the integrated Sennheiser products used for capturing, students who participate remotely can follow the lessons as if they were present on site.
SpeechLine Digital Wireless – A complete solution for universities
Introduced at ISE in 2015, the SpeechLine Digital Wireless solution was designed to meet the demand for a wireless microphone purely dedicated to speech. Its multi-channel reception capabilities allow the installation of several systems simultaneously. The multi-room mode and the Dante connectivity create a powerful ecosystem at the service of the users and the AV team. The coherence of the digital AV chain is also ensured through its integration into IP networks, using the Control Cockpit software.
AMU has been using SpeechLine Digital Wireless since 2017. “I started to install it in the amphitheaters because we eliminated the problem of frequencies and above all, the high autonomy of the batteries was a big advance”, says Philippe Martinasso from AMU’s AV team. Thanks to Automatic Gain Control, the microphone is particularly user-friendly: SpeechLine Digital Wireless automatically sets the microphone’s sensitivity to the optimal value. This means that you no longer have to worry about the gain. Another huge advantage is that the microphones are network-enabled so that the AV team can intervene remotely. “We can correct the sound level, we can also correct the frequency and the sound for lecture capturing”, confirms Alexandre Greco from AMU’s AV team. Another reason why AMU chose SpeechLine Digital Wireless was that the AV Team wanted to use DECT technology rather than traditional analogue links, which are more difficult to manage with the increasing number of wireless links on university campuses. Simple operation, remote control, automatic gain control, license-free frequencies, versatile transmitters as well as automatic frequency control make SpeechLine Digital Wireless a complete solution for universities.
TeamConnect Ceiling 2 – Touchless microphone solution for learning spaces
After numerous tests, the choice of TeamConnect Ceiling 2 microphones for the facilities at AMU was a natural one. The ceiling mic works as a holistic package based on several principles: sound quality, adaptation of the devices to its surrounding space and context, aesthetics and design, camera tracking, simplicity, and robustness.
“With TeamConnect Ceiling 2, we are very satisfied as it was easily integrated into the infrastructure. In fact, you don’t have the impression that there is a microphone in the rooms. The main advantage for end users is that there is nothing to hold in your hand. The mic works totally touchless and adjusts automatically to the position of the person speaking. It’s like using a lavalier microphone, but without the constraint of positioning the microphone”, confirms Alexandre Greco.
Control Cockpit – A simple tool for network-based remote control
Both SpeechLine Digital Wireless as well as TeamConnect Ceiling 2 are compatible with the Control Cockpit software which makes them the ideal choice for AMU’s five campuses. “We have so many installations on so many different sites, we can’t go everywhere. However, the Control Cockpit allows us to intervene remotely, we can connect to a room, listen to a lesson and check that the parameters of the mics are correct”, says Dominique Jaccard from AMU’s AV team. “I’ve been using the Control Cockpit since I installed SpeechLine Digital Wireless because it allows us to control the levels and to make adjustments. It’s a really nice tool. Since July 2021, we have set up a server so that we have a central Control Cockpit for all the campuses”, adds Philippe Martinasso.
AMU and Sennheiser – A trusting relationship
The AV team at AMU values Sennheiser not only for its products, but also for the great support and collaboration. “I trust that I’ll always have someone who will answer my questions. When I’m told that it’s a Sennheiser product, I already know that the reliability and quality of capturing will be irreproachable”, says Dominique Jaccard. Phillipe Martinasso is convinced of Sennheiser products due to the simplicity of use that all solutions feature. He highlights their importance for AMU’s staff to keep work going during the pandemic. “Even more with COVID-19, Sennheiser products provide the best conditions to make high-quality captures while respecting the health protocols.”