Canidae Pet Food – Stamford, Connecticut
Canidae Pet Food is a new client introduced to us by our friends at Coranet, a data, security, and network infrastructure partner located in NYC. Most often our new clients find us through word-of-mouth recommendations, it’s our only method of marketing. Coranet was on point for their relocation of the data and security systems from Greenwich to Stamford, they planned to integrate Microsoft Teams (Canidae had been using Teams) with a goal to increase Canidae’s Video Conferencing usage in meeting spaces at their new headquarters, allowing them to be in daily communication with their plant in Texas and distribution chain. Coranet briefed me on Canidae’s requirements and indicated they wanted to see some of our work and test drive video conferencing systems at various budget levels.
VideoSonic maintains excellent relationships with our clients, they can always count on us for any technical advice. Healthline Media welcomes us to do demos at their facility, we can book their rooms when we need to do a demo in Manhattan. Healthline has 15 various sized rooms from a 20-seat boardroom with x2 MXA910’s and DSP, to smaller rooms using Logitech Meet-up. In addition to having a variety of rooms to demonstrate, we had introduced Healthline to Liron at NY Soundproofing who provided acoustical treatments for all the rooms. When the rooms are acoustically treated to eliminate any echo and reverb, your going to have a much better conferencing experience. The cost of VTC hardware has come down in price that there certainly is enough room to add acoustical treatments to the budget.
Canidae’s CEO, their architects (Sarah Vitek and Sarah Little from Locust Design Collaborative in Greenwich) made a field trip Healthline late November to “test drive” the rooms and discuss performance vs. budget. We were able to make calls rooms to room and hear both sides of a high-end room (with beamform mics and ceiling speakers) to a basic room with a meet-up. The client was extremely impressed with the call quality and our workmanship and asked us to make the recommendations for the room systems and submit a quote.
We signed off on the final design in December 2019, which included a Town Hall Space with a 98” 4K LCD, a 20-person boardroom with a 85” 4K LCD, a 10-person conference room (85” 4K LCD), and (2) 6-Person Huddle Rooms with 75” 4K LCD screens. Sarah & Sarah from Locust Design also included extensive acoustical treatments for the rooms, which sounded amazing when completed. In addition to the conferencing systems, we also included a Cambridge Sound Masking system to cover reception and the open workspaces. We began the site installation in middle of January 2020 and managed to get most of the conference rooms and town hall infrastructure in place, and all the emitter mounts and cabling installed for the sound masking system. The next visit we brought the sound mask system online and installed all the emitters and the TV mounts.
We were working towards a completion date of April 3rd, 2020 and then Covid-19 happened. We had purchased and delivered most of the equipment for the project, and now we were sheltering in place, considered non-essential, we could not even leave the state. I am writing this post on June 8th, 2020 – looking back, who knew that we would be living through another life changing event in this century, that once again we will have to adapt to a new normal. And on top of the pandemic being the major headlines of the past 12 weeks, the wrongful death of George Floyd and the protesting combined with the rioting is now the big headline.
VideoSonic has overcome some pretty big challenges before; and we will come out from the other side of this storm doing what we do best, delivering systems with high quality performance and workmanship, exceeding the clients expectations while remaining on budget and schedule.
Canidae’s Town Hall is a multifunctional, divisible space located partially in the entrance lobby and the Café Space. A 98” 4K QM-N series Samsung Commercial Duty LCD grabs your attention when getting off the elevator, with 500 nit brightness, the screen is brilliant, even under ambient lighting conditions.
A Mersive Solstice Gen3 Pod is the default source that is displayed on the screen when no meeting or presentations are scheduled for the space. Operating in digital signage mode, the POD is pointed towards an external URL, an HTML5 web page that displays company photos and news, welcome messaging to the staff to the new office space. The marketing department and the office manager curate this web page. New content is added to the web page, which automatically posts to the screen. Solstice allows ad hoc meetings to occur at the screen at any time, the digital signage feed is interrupted when a staff member connects his laptop or personal device wirelessly to the screen. The Solstice Pod pulls information from outlook and display room reservations on the screen in small border at the bottom of the screen.
For Town Hall meetings, the room functions identical to any of the other Teams Rooms. A Logitech Rally 4K Robotic Camera is installed on the ceiling opposite the screen, in most Video Conference Rooms, the camera is under the screen facing the audience. In a Town Hall space it is the opposite, the camera is focused on the presenter in the front of the room.
Two wireless microphone “Combo Kits” used to both transmit the conference audio to the far end and provide voice lift in the room (PA) simultaneously. Each Combo Kit includes a handheld mic and a wearable clip-on mic. One of the clip-on Mics is put on the presenter, the other handheld can be passed around the room for Q&A. Dialing a video or Voice call is identical to the other conference rooms, content can be shared wirelessly or by connecting a laptop to an HDMI port located on the wall below the Logitech Tap control panel. For Q&A from the audience, the camera can rotate to capture audience members. Bose DS40 pendant speaker blend in well with the other devices on the ceiling and sound amazing. A Biamp Tesira VT4 handles the audio processing providing acoustic echo cancellation and auto-mixing for the program audio, conference audio, and voice lift.
20 Person Conference Room:
Canidae’s CEO was so impressed with the boardroom system at Healthline, that he requested we do the same in Stamford. The table in the room seats 8 on each of the long sides and two chairs at each end; bench seating around the perimeter of the room allows for overflow. Two Shure MXA910 beamform mics were installed on the ceiling above the table. Using a Shure P300 for DSP provides 8 lobes of coverage in the room and except for the corners, we have full coverage of the space. Far end audio plays back through (6) Bose DS40 Pendant Speakers suspended from the ceiling with light fixtures; the speakers blend in very well and sound awesome.
A Logitech Tap for Teams serves as the control panel for the room, it is the dialer for audio calls and display room reservation information. We found the Tap product to be of excellent quality and price point and as Teams continues to develop and improve, Canidae will take full advantage of this powerful communications app.
Front of the 20-person room is an 85” Sony Pro Bravia with a Logitech Rally 4K camera installed below the screen, typically at eye level to a seated person. The architects included extensive acoustical treatments for the space, the wall at the front of the room where the screen is installed has a fabric panel system, this treatment is also one on the walls opposite the windows. Heavy felt fabric is suspended from a unistrut hanger system installed on the ceiling; the fabric is looped as it is installed creating a highly effective acoustical “trap” on the ceiling.
10 Person Conference Room:
The 10 Person Conference Room is identical to the 20-person room exc0ept for the Microphone and DSP. For this room we selected Biamp Devio Beamforming Mics (x2) for the ceiling.
A nice feature of Devio is it has internal Bluetooth that allows your personal device to connect to the room, same as if you were connecting your phone in a car. Both rooms function identically to the other rooms as they all use Logitech Tap for Teams eliminating any learning curve from one room to another.
6 Person Meeting Rooms:
There are (2) six-person meeting rooms, each has a wall mounted 75” LCD with a Logitech Meetup installed below the screen.
Supplied as an accessory with the Meetup, we have the meetup extension microphone located on the table.
During a video conference call, the chairs between the end of the table and the wall-mounted screen are moved to the same side of the table with everyone facing the screen. With and audio call, the chairs remain and block the Meetup’s internal mics. Having the table mic prevented this from becoming an issue, and part of a good design.
With open workspaces there is a lack of privacy when seated in rows next to your co-workers. Even with acoustical treatments, its difficult to isolate or contain people’s voices from being overheard in the space. Studies have been made that prove that workflow is reduced amongst co-workers who overhear personal conversations.
Sound masking isn’t a magic curtain that drowns out the voices so they cannot be heard, but it is a scientific principle that by generating a blend of white noise and pink noise as pre-determined frequencies, he noise muddies up the consonants that disrupts your ability to comprehend every word in the conversation, and distracts what you are listening to.
We installed 72 emitters throughout the space; they are installed on the ceilings at 6’ centers and blend in well with the other devices on the ceiling. The product is Cambridge Audio and Biamp recently acquired them.