Optical Audio is a boutique provider of high-end audio processing, communications and control equipment working out of Melbourne, Australia. Technical Director Jason Read heads up a full time team of three employees, working with a team of regular contractors on the big gigs. “We supply a service, managed within our current staffing, that ensures we deliver the product,” explained Jason “We’re there from quote, to design, to delivery and we’re the guys on the ground doing the job. When we started eight years ago, we were supplying backbone PA equipment like drive gear and processing. Communications became a natural progression from our work on fireworks and show control systems. Comms came naturally to us, and we’ve stared to specialise, and take on high profile projects.”
Optical Audio has chosen equipment from Clear-Com to fill their comms inventory, and the relationship started with fireworks. “We won the contract to provide comms services to the 2010 New Year’s Eve Celebrations for the City of Melbourne,” Jason related. “We needed to integrate all of the two-way radio channels in use across the city into a user panel at the control room. When we were getting quotes, specifications and advice, Jands and Clear-Com were the most supportive, so it was a no-brainer for me. I knew that if I rang Jands at 11:40 PM on New Year’s Eve with a last-minute question that they’d answer straightaway. It was about support. We knew that Clear-Com product is fantastic, robust and widely used, but knowing that support from Jands was on tap is what sold it for us.”
By 2015, Optical Audio were now firmly established as special event communication specialists, so when the public tender to supply comms to the 15th Pacific Games to be held in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, was announced, Jason and the team went to work to put together their response. Despite competing against much larger companies, Optical’s bid was successful. “I think we won the contract due to our research into local frequency licensing laws,” mused Jason. “We touched base with NICTA , the government body in charge of spectrum in PNG, and went through their chain. We had spoken, got pricing on short term licensing, and designed our comms system to suit the available bandwidth. When we finally landed in PNG and had the first meeting, it was good to put names to faces. They said ‘Whatever you need, we’ll make it work, because you’ve taken the time to find out how we do it here.’ We took the time to find out what they could provide us, instead of just asking for what we needed.”
The next challenge was getting the gear they needed to Port Moresby in time. “It was a really quick turnaround,” continued Jason. “There was just three weeks between the contracts being signed to when the doors on the shipping container closed. We were investing a lot in Clear-Com, and were putting orders in on that day to get stuff shipped in time. We were dealing with equipment that’s made-to-order that had to be airfreighted to get it there in time. Some of the key components left a week before.”
Optical Audio put together a system with a Clear-Com an Eclipse-Median matrix frame at its core. The frame was fitted with an IVC-32 card for IP connection, three MVX-A16 cards for analogue I/O, 14 FOR-22 cards to provide interface to their four-wire system and CCI-22 cards for the partyline. 22 V24LDXY V-Series 24-key Lever Panels and two V12LDXY V-Series 12-key Lever Panels were connected via IP. In addition, Optical employed MS-704 master stations, 20 RS-701 series beltpacks and a two-channel Tempest wireless system with five beltpacks. All major IP links were run with fibre optic cabling, except a mustering tower in warmup field with no way to cable to it. Optical solved this problem with a microwave link to a V-Series Lever Panel, which also carried an audio announce for the audio contractor.
“We took almost triple the specification,” Jason clarified. “We took a lot of infrastructure that hadn’t been captured in the tender. We read between the lines based on experience and over-specified everything we could think of. We knew that being in Port Moresby, we couldn’t run back to the shop or sub-hire from a local company. It all came down to having enough of everything there and having spares and redundancy. It paid off; we ended up, thankfully, with a few, but not many, spares, and anything we didn’t have we came up with a solution for.”
Jason was joined by colleague Kieran Lang, and Optical ran the show as a duo. 24 countries came together in July 2015 to celebrate the wildly diverse cultures of the tribes of Papua New Guinea and the island nations of the Pacific, with the spectacular opening and closing ceremonies running smoothly on their Clear-Com backbone. “The Clear-Com gear performed perfectly,” said Jason “It all performed, all the redundancies came online when we did full checks. It was all smooth sailing.”
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