King William, VA, Aug 2023 – Originally built in 1725 and most recently expanded with a new building in 2004, the King William County Courthouse in Virginia is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. During the pandemic, the county added new remote gallery spaces for social distancing, and also needed to broadcast jury trials online. The facility soon found itself in need of a significant audio-video upgrade for the post-Covid world.
Captain Scott Hamilton, chief deputy for the County Sheriff's office, oversees the court's security and civil process needs and was the county's point person on the project. After consulting with area resident Russ Groover of Right Track Marketing and design/install firm RTW Media (Richmond, VA), they developed a plan to meet the audio requirements of the new rooms while respecting the building.
"Having remote galleries meant that attorneys, witnesses and judges needed to be mic'ed, and on video as well," explains Hamilton. "And of course, we also needed it all fast, on a tight budget and without ripping the walls apart. Fortunately, we had worked with Russ Groover previously and trusted him to spec the most appropriate equipment. For audio, that turned out to be from Dynacord and Electro-Voice."
The upgrade included both the Circuit Court and General District Court, which previously had separate sound systems. "Our systems were from 2004 and we only used the witness stand microphones," explains Hamilton. "It was never intended to do what we now need to keep trials open to the public. It's been quite a challenge."
The centerpiece of the new sound system is the MXE5 Matrix Mix Engine from Dynacord. The MXE5 enables a zoned approach to mixing, with the ability to route all the audio in the building to the appropriate spaces while also enabling bailiff control of key functions via Dynacord TPC-1 Touch Panel Controllers. The installation also features Electro-Voice microphones and loudspeakers.
To accommodate non-technical users, the TPC-1 touch panels are customized for easy control of critical functions like mic input levels for loud or quiet talkers, gallery output levels and one-touch reset.
From Electro-Voice, the Circuit Court uses five PC Desktop-12 gooseneck microphones, plus one PC-12/XLR mic on a portable podium and a line-level audio XLR input for presentation equipment. In the General District Court, four PC Desktop-12 microphones cover the judge's bench, witness stand, and both plaintiff and defendant tables.
One critical microphone consideration was minimizing any chance of mistrial. Switches on the mic bases are programmed for momentary mute, enabling private attorney-client speech. In addition, judges have a separate switch that mutes all output in the room, thus keeping critical sidebar discussions private.
All the inputs in both courts feed the MXE5, which routes audio to the appropriate zones across both courtrooms, their remote galleries and ADA accommodation rooms.
Clear sound for all rooms is provided by Electro-Voice EVID C4.2LP ceiling speakers, chosen for their high intelligibility and high output in a compact, easy-to-install package. The entire sound system is powered by a single Electro-Voice CPS4.5 four-channel power amplifier, co-located with the MXE5 in a central equipment rack.
The installation has been a great success for all concerned. "We couldn't be happier with our new sound system, and I really want to thank Russ Groover," adds Hamilton. "We wanted to put our best foot forward with the audio and video, but we're law enforcement officers, not technicians. The folks at Right Track and RTW Media created a solution that does everything we asked for. Every time we brought up a new courtroom situation, their answer was the same: 'It can do that.' It's really just a very user-friendly system."
1x MXE5 Matrix Mix Engine
2x TCP-1 5.7" touch panel controller
12x EVID C4.2LP 4" coaxial ceiling loudspeaker
1x CPS4.5 power amplifier, 4x 500 W
9x PC Desktop-12 gooseneck condenser microphone, programmable switch
1x PC-12/XLR gooseneck condenser microphone, XLR base
1x CPSM shock mount for PC-12/XLR