Northern Illinois University

Dekalb, Illinois


  • Integrate a system that consists of a concert quality sound structure
  • Implement a versatile AV system that would be reliable for many years to come

Northern Illinois University


Northern Illinois University, established in 1899, is a public research university located in DeKalb, Illinois, United States, with satellite centers in Hoffman Estates, Naperville, Rockford, and Oregon. Within the University is the Duke Ellington Ballroom, well known for being the site of the bandleader’s last full concert before his death in 1974. As a tribute to Duke Ellington’s legacy and his fine performances at the University, the ballroom was renamed in his honor in 1980. The ballroom hosts all types of events from career days and conferences to piano recitals and wedding receptions. As the facility went through an extensive cosmetic renovation, Pentegra Systems partnered with the electrical contractor Kelso-Burnett and the acoustics and AV consulting firm Talaske Group to engineer and implement a versatile audio and video presentation system.


Given an aggressive project schedule, the AV system implementation required accurate procurement and efficient coordination with all of the other on-site trades. Due to the structure and setup of the ballroom, precise alignment of all the screens, lifts and projectors was crucial to the success of the system. Moreover, the system had to effectively accommodate a variety of different events that would be held in the ballroom.


Pentegra installed an integrated system that consists of a concert quality sound structure based around the ballroom’s main stage. The entire system incorporates a distributed sound system with high-performance ceiling speakers, three commercial grade video projectors on ceiling lifts with seven different projection screens, expanded jack/plate infrastructure, head-end equipment and a Crestron touchscreen control system. The audio and video systems can be activated and configured for different events using the custom Crestron controls. The sound systems were carefully calibrated using SmaartLIVE software, while the video systems were calibrated by an ISF-certified Pentegra systems engineer using Sencore test equipment.


Pentegra integrated a versatile AV system that would be reliable for many years to come. The multipurpose space is properly equipped with superior AV systems to be used for any event that may take place in the ballroom. Maintained by Pentegra Systems, a continued positive experience for the client as well as guests and visitors of the ballroom is guaranteed.

Main System Components:

  • Biamp Digital Signal Processing
  • Crestron Isys Touchscreen Controls
  • Crown CTS Series Amplification
  • EAW Stage Monitors
  • EAW Full Range Loudspeakers
  • Electrovoice Ceiling Speakers
  • Sharp LCD Projection
  • SVS Ceiling Enclosure Projector Lifts

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