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Digital signal processor brings high quality flexible sound to suburban hotel

Mariott Suites finds DSP technology hospitable to meeting rooms

Soundweb controls make it easy to combine meeting rooms at the Marriott Suites DeerfieldListen carefully as you walk in the front door of the Marriott Suites Hotel in Deerfield, Illinois. You will hear something special. It's the rich, full tones of a top quality sound system that winds through the hotel, from foyer to restaurant and on to the hotel ballroom and conference area. But it's not just the superior sound quality that makes this system a cut above the rest. Based on a SoundWeb digital signal processor, this audio system offers convenience and flexibility rarely seen in hotel audio.

Superior sound

Since United Visual installed this system a year ago, the Marriott Suites sales staff has found it to be one of their biggest selling points when promoting hotel meeting space to business clients. "The clarity of the sound, the pitch, the depth of the music-everything's better," says Director of Food and Beverage Operations Chris Kontos. "The sound doesn't fall on the ground and die like it used to." While it may be the superior sound quality that sells the client, it's the incredible ease of setup and programming that impresses Kontos. When the day's schedule calls for the large conference room to be divided into smaller rooms for separate meetings, there's no more mad dash to put up the walls, reset each room's sound system and make sure everyone's got the right signal. When the partition walls roll out to divide the room, the SoundWeb is already programmed to divide up the audio signal and send it to the appropriate room.


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Simple set up

On the wall of each room is a control panel, called a "jellyfish" because of the greenish glow of its backlit LCD panel. United Visual programmed the jellyfish to allow the business client to choose an audio source and adjust volume during a meeting, but not to allow anyone without a password into the heart of the system. Sources available to the client include a CD player and the hotel's 300 CD library, a VCR, his own laptop and microphones clients or staff can connect to wall plates in each room.

For staff, the setup process is simple. When dividing up rooms, hotel operators enter their password into the jellyfish, press the buttons or, say, Room A and Room B and the system automatically combines the audio for those two rooms. The nearby ballroom is also on the system. Staff can keep it separate or share the same audio as the conference rooms. It's a far cry from the days when every room had to have its own equipment rack, amplifiers and microphones and each room had to be reset manually. "I think the key to this program is its incredible flexibility," says United Visual's Dale Bottcher, who sold Marriott on the system last year. "This is a Windows-based system, so we did the programming, plugged into the system's serial port, and dropped in a custom program designed just for Marriott." United Visual also set the audio quality put out by the SoundWeb. "Everything's in the program--crossovers, delays, filters, levels. But we gave them the extent of control that they needed in order to serve their clients."

"We're in the hospitality business," says Kontos. "You need to serve the customer, because if you can't do that you might as well get out of the business…What United Visual brought to the picture was customer service. You can call them one night, tell them you need something for a meeting the next morning, and it will be there," he continues. "They really stand behind their product."

Marriott has been happy enough to come back to United with additional projects. "We put this same sound system into our restaurant in Oakbrook," says Kontos. "There was no carpeting, just tile floor, but the richness of the sound was just as good. It's been outstanding everywhere we've put it." Sounds like Marriott and the SoundWeb system are making beautiful music together.