VALDOSTA, GEORGIA: High school football is serious in Valdosta, Georgia. There, the Lowndes High School Vikings regularly fill 12,000-plus seat Martin Stadium and, far more often than not, prevail over their rivals. Lowndes has won five state championships – three of them within the last decade – and managed perfect seasons in 2004 and 2008. In fact, in 2008, ESPN ranked Lowndes as the #2 high school football program in the entire country. That's number two out of approximately 14,000 teams – no small feat. To support the team and improve the game day experience for fans, the school raised funds for a new Jumbotron and, to go with it, a modern collegiate-grade sound reinforcement system. Ashly Audio NE Series signal processing and KLR-Series amplifiers support the new system, which provides extensive auto-mixing capabilities and, via a simple Ashly wall-mounted fader bank, intuitive control of critical features.
"As full range sound reinforcement systems become the rule and not the exception at professional and college-level football stadiums, the expectations of Lowndes Vikings fans naturally grew," explained Riley Rutland, owner of Rutland Low Voltage, the firm that designed and installed Lowndes' new sound reinforcement system. "The old system at Martin Stadium was definitely not full range, and so when they installed the new Jumbotron, it made sense to bring the audio in line as well. With a team as good as the Vikings, the A/V support should be top-notch."
Three Ashly NE Series Protea™ network digital signal processors work together to provide that top-notch sound for Martin Stadium. At the front, an 8x8 Ashly ne 8800 handles the press box audio and all of the field mics, which include new Rolls beltpacks paired with Sony headset microphones. On the opposite side of the stadium, a 4x4 Ashly ne 4400 handles all of the signal processing for the Jumbotron-associated audio. Finally, a 4x8 Ashly ne4800 provides loudspeaker processing, equalization and delay. Its eight outputs feed four dual-channel Ashly KLR-3200 amplifiers, which in turn power a pair of biamped Community R6-51 loudspeakers on each side of the field (four R6-51s in all). Rutland installed the loudspeakers close-packed, which extends their low-frequency response and obviated the need for dedicated subwoofers.
Both the Ashly ne 4400 and the Ashly ne 8800 have optional gain-sharing automatic microphone mixer on each input, which gave Rutland the ability to largely automate the system for Lowndes. That made a dedicated console unnecessary, which saved expense and simplified the system's user interface. A straightforward eight-fader bank Ashly RD-8C wall-mounted remote control provides all the control that is required. Staff can adjust the volumes of a few critical inputs, as well as the overall output volume. "Using Ashly processors and amplifiers gave Martin Stadium the best possible sound quality for a very reasonable price," said Rutland. "In fact, I would say that Ashly processing is the best I've heard at any price; there are no artifacts of any kind. Moreover, Ashly's build quality is second to none. The stuff doesn't fail."
Although Rutland originally intended to unite the three Ashly processors via CobraNet, the school chose to tie it together with copper. Shortly after it was installed however, a lightning strike burnt through the copper under the field and unbalanced the lines. "We went back to plan A," said Rutland. "The CobraNet hooked up beautifully and everything sounded great again!"
ABOUT ASHLY AUDIO
Ashly Audio Inc. is recognized as a world leader in the design and manufacturing of high quality & high performance signal processing equipment and power amplification for use in the commercial sound contracting and professional audio markets. The 40-year old company is headquartered in Webster, New York U.S.A.