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In the courtroom, there are 70 desks equipped with beyerdynamic Revoluto microphone units; public gallery audio comes via a Renkus-Heinz mini line array, while each of the 47 judges’ seats has a KEF ceiling speaker overhead


Judging rights

A revamp of the technical infrastructure at the European Court of Human Rights called for an audio solution that was both intelligible and intelligent – and an innovative approach was chosen, writes James McGrath

AT THE EUROPEAN Court of Human Rights (ECHR), cases are heard by 47 judges – one for each of the member states of the Council of Europe – when proceedings within the national justice system have been exhausted. Within six months of the final domestic court decision, an application can be made to the ECHR. Cases that filter through

the system and eventually reach the courtroom (a single case can last several hours) involve the applicant, their counsel and representatives of the country concerned; and, with the judges also primed for engagement, up to six languages can be spoken in any one hearing. When the court renovated its technical infrastructure in

the summer of 2011, audio quality at the facility had to be second to none for intelligibility, and an efficient means of translating the different languages was key. The new solution also had to meet the ever-improving technical standards imposed on the court, which public- service institutions like the ECHR are expected to implement. “We had to improve the

system for two main reasons,” states Alain Mielle, head of the multimedia and computer section (directorate of logistics) at the Council of Europe, which runs the ECHR. “The intelligibility of the previous system was sometimes poor, but we also had to increase the number of outputs. We

are now required to supply feeds for additional record keeping, for the internet and for a large room in the basement, where members of the public who cannot fit into the courtroom can watch proceedings on screens.”

AUDIBLE HEARINGS Wanting to create an innovative solution for the court, Mielle, along with Frank Kolb, technician at the ECHR, enlisted the support of business manager Franck Rohm and his team from Strasbourg-based integrator Axians, as well as Alain Diab from fellow French integration company TechniDream.

With some cases streamed

live and also broadcast for television it was important

that anyone speaking in a hearing could be clearly seen as well as heard. This meant the desk microphones would need to be visually unobtrusive. To achieve this, Mielle and his team opted for 70 beyerdynamic Revoluto MPR 211 horizontal desktop microphone units. These each contain 17 capsules, managed by DSP to optimise audio quality irrespective of the distance or angle of the sound source. To convey court

proceedings to the public gallery, it was necessary to provide a loudspeaker system with suitable coverage. The teams opted for two Renkus-Heinz IC8 mini line arrays, flown side-by-side from the ceiling.

The selection of speakers

 Axians designs, installs, maintains and operates information systems and communications for voice, data and image

 It is one of six core brands of VINCI Energies, which is a network of 1,500 close-knit business units

 Axians has office locations in the Netherlands, Germany, France, Belgium, the UK and Switzerland

to serve the judges was a more complex matter: Mielle and his team wanted the decision-makers to be completely comfortable in their acoustic setting, so they could give their full concentration to court proceedings. It was therefore decided to install a total of 49 KEF in-ceiling speakers, situated above the judges’ seats. Through the use of a Crestron control system, once a judge begins to speak, his or her KEF speaker and the two neighbouring speakers are muted, lessening the distraction of sound. To manage the audio signals and distribute sound around the court, the team opted to equip the control room with two Yamaha

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