The new Amsterdam Courthouse opened to great fanfare in May 2021 in the growing business district of Zuidas. The 10-story building brings a striking, open appearance to Amsterdam’s Financial Mile thanks to a largely glass structure that allows spectators to monitor the courtroom activities from the outside.
Inside the 60,200 m2 building, litigants, visitors and up to 1,000 court employees move between 50 courtrooms, 17 interrogation rooms and several sensitive workspaces, meeting rooms and a press room on private floors. Systems integration firm and GPA member AVEX called on Xilica to deliver quality audio across these spaces, and simplify programmability for a very complex and challenging AV systems design.
While the new courthouse has a far more “stately, sleek and friendly” architecture inside and out, the same old audio intelligibility exists inside the courtrooms. Along with the typical echo challenges, the courtrooms themselves vary greatly in size. That required a carefully specified solution to manage the unique acoustic echo cancellation (AEC) requirements of each environment.
AVEX also had to consider the security requirements of sensitive courtroom operations that, while visible to outside spectators, must be well-protected from intrusion. Since the courtroom desired a digital networking solution to simplify management, this meant carefully architecting a robust IT-friendly audio solution. The systems also had to be programmable and fully interoperable with other AV products to meet a challenging deadline for the client.
AVEX specified 130 Xilica Solaro DSPs for the sensitive courthouse project, including 70 Solaro FR1-Ds and 60 Solaro QR1 slim-profile units. The complete solution supports 688 audio channels across all spaces, with the Xilica Solaro DSPs driving the site-wide Dante network.
While Xilica’s noise reduction technology ensures excellent voice intelligibility in these very challenging acoustic environments, the company’s auto-mixing applications are the star of the show during courtroom proceedings.
“There is plenty of headroom in Solaro DSPs that make for very pristine courtroom audio, but the integrated auto-mixers compensate for crosstalk that can create confusion during hearings,” said Henk Boonstra, Xilica’s project lead for the installation. “When the judge speaks, the defendant’s microphone is automatically muted. Xilica’s processing ensures strong audibility by managing the microphones, whether reducing the volume of certain speakers, to automatically silencing those talking over the presiding judge.”
Xilica’s intelligent modularity ensures scalability for future audio applications and provides an open architecture that renders it future-proof. This is very important considering the architectural design of the courthouse, which emphasizes building adaptability for future expansion and reconfiguration.
Xilica’s intuitive programmability also ensured the early design and integration stages moved forward without delay. That included integrated Lua scripting that simplified control of all AV devices on the network.
Since opening its doors, the Amsterdam District Court is going about its business without the security and reliability concerns that befall most courtrooms. With Xilica Solaro DSPs managing audio across the spaces, those inside the building have clear, unambiguous communication with the reliability required in a courthouse delivering over 140,000 verdicts a year.