North Carolina Agricultural Center installs Ashly Audio tech

Fletcher-based Western North Carolina Agricultural Center (WNCAg) have installed a series of Ashly Audio tech to their newly refurbished Davis Arena as part of a $7.5 million redevelopment of the venue.

The venue hosts the annual week-and-a-half North Carolina Mountain State Fair every summer which celebrates life in the Blue Ridge Mountains and is attended by over 180,000 people each year.

Throughout the rest of the year, WNCAg hosts innumerable other activities including equestrian shows, dog shows and gun shows whilst simultaneously any number of conventions, meetings and workshops are taking place.

As part of this multi-million dollar refurbishment which began in October 2010, the venue’s 45,000 square foot Davis Arena which includes an exhibition space as well as meeting rooms and hospitality suites also received a major revamp.

Part of this was a newly installed sound reinforcement system using Ashly Audio equipment. It was installed by Asheville-based A/V integrators, B&R Audio.

“The Davis Arena supports a huge diversity of events,” explained the owner and President of B&R Audio, Bruce Jensen. “The center needed a very flexible sound reinforcement system that would allow any member of the staff to play music from a variety of input sources and deliver announcements that would be clearly intelligible. In a nutshell, they asked for input volumes and mutes as well as output volumes and mutes to a number of zones, including several far-flung buildings. But perhaps even more importantly, they wanted something that would not intimidate even the most technologically bashful user.”

The set-up included Ashly Audio amplifiers and signal processors. This included a Pema Multi-Channel Amplifier with on-board Protea DSP Processor.

What is more, to appease even the “most technologically bashful user” Jensen used Ashly’s new FR-8 and FR-16 Networkable Remote Fader Controls. This provided even the non-technical staff at the venue with a clear user interface.

Jensen had become aware of the FR-8 and FR-16 even before they were officially released.

“Ashly’s FR-8 and FR-16 remote controllers were perfect for this installation,” he continued. “And because Ashly’s support is so complete and reliable, I had no fear that I’d be stranded with a semi-functional beta if I pressed the company for an early model.”

The FR-8 and FR-16 provide the users with 8 and 16 faders and mutes, respectively, as well as a master fader. The integrator has full control over which input, output or mixer volumes were controlled by each fader.

Handling the complex input processing, matrix logic and output processing was the Ashly ne24.24M DSP Matrix Processor. Jensen carefully set-up the equipment so that the fader limits on the FR remote controllers and the output protection limiting on the ne24.24M was installed so that even a complete novice would find it near impossible to do the system any harm.

As Jensen noted, the ne24.24M’s design ensured that the installation was future-proof for the venue.

“One of the nice features of the Ashly ne24.24M is that the input and output count is totally modular,” explained Jensen. “So when the needs of the event center change, we can accommodate those changes without having to rip everything out.”

In addition, Ashly Audio amplifiers provided the power to the Davis Arena’s distributed loudspeakers. The main exhibition hall used a ne1600pe.70 and ne2400pe.70 Networkable Amplifier to control its speakers. Both of these amps deliver loudspeakers conditioning through in-built DSP.

For the corridors and the bathrooms a ne800.70 Network Amp handled this task. Similarly, the outdoor speaker system is handled by a Ne2400.70 Two-Channel Networkable Amp rated at 1200W into 70V.

These network amps fed a series of loudspeakers. For the outside rig they powered Community R1-64Z weather-resistant horn-loaded loudspeakers. Whilst indoors, speaker duty was handled by down-firing SoundTube models. These particular speakers did an excellent job of keeping the acoustics off the reverberant walls.

 Jensen also persuaded the WNCAg to use fibre optic cabling in replacement of their speaker cable currently in use for their various distant feeds.

“They weren’t sure that they wanted to commit to fiber optics, so we did one trial run,” added Jensen. “They love it, and we’ll be upgrading the other distant feeds in the near future.”

Finally, another part of the renovation at WNCAg was the inclusion of three classroom spaces. These classrooms were large enough to require their own specific sound reinforcement.

“It was the perfect application for Ashly’s Pema Multi-Channel DSP Amplifier,” continued Jensen. “Because the Pema has everything I needed inside a two-rack space unit, the installation was simple, quick, and reliable.”

Jensen thus installed a Ashly Pema 4250 four-channel amplifier. This provided input conditioning, switching logic and loudspeaker conditioning (again for SoundTube loudspeakers). What is more, each classroom has an Ashly neWR-5 wall-mounted remote control that, as with the FR-8 and FR-16, allows users to easily select inputs and volumes.