ATLANTA, GEORGIA - JANUARY 2010: Established in 1926 in midtown Atlanta by forward-thinking educator Ms. Eva Edwards Lovett, the Lovett School continues a tradition of excellence with over 99% of its students going on to attend four-year colleges. The private school has some 1,400 students in kindergarten through twelfth grade at any one time. A recent "75th Anniversary Campaign" raised over $55 million in funds to expand facilities, most notably for the addition of a new middle school. The centerpiece of the middle school project is a 500-seat multipurpose room, serving as an assembly space for the entire middle school body and as an indoor recreation facility. The new multipurpose room relies on Danley loudspeakers to deliver crisp, intelligible audio for both music and spoken word in an acoustical environment that more like a gym than a theater.
Lovett hired local engineering powerhouse, Newcomb & Boyd, to design an
audiovisual system that would integrate nicely into the flexible space. Josef H. Henschen, Lovett alumnus and audiovisual engineer in the Special Technologies Group at Newcomb & Boyd, led the effort. "The multipurpose room is a pretty decent compromise between a gym and a performance space," said Henschen. "But still, we were presented with an acoustical challenge. It has a hardwood floor. One sidewall is plain concrete block. Another is ceramic brick. The third is treated with acoustical block, while the fourth is mostly obscured by retractable bleachers. The ceiling is covered with perforated paneling. Even with the treatment, the space still sounds much more like a gym than it does a theater."
The heart and soul of the new system are the Danley loudspeakers and subwoofers that bring so much clarity to the gym-like acoustics... acoustics that are normally considered something of a lost cause for decent sound reinforcement. Two flown Danley SH-50s provide the bulk of the main coverage. A pair of Danley SH-95s hang below the SH-50s for front-fill and down-fill. A single Danley TH-50 subwoofer resides directly behind the cluster with its grill facing downward to provide a deep low-end atypical of such systems.
Feeding the Danleys are ten wired mic inputs and two wireless mics, all of which are mixed and processed by a pair of ClearOne Converge SR 1212 automated digital mixers, before being sent to a modest bank of Crown CTS amplifiers. The video side of the system includes three laptop inputs, a multimedia lectern with a document camera, and a Blu-Ray player to accommodate all of the scenarios that the school anticipated. A Digital Projections 10,000 lumens projector hits a 240-inch screen for spectacular display of prerecorded material.
"I had read a lot about Danley's history in the trade magazines and knew they had a reputation for designing uniquely functional loudspeakers," said Henschen. "In addition to the desire to support a local Georgia business, I was curious to hear these Danley boxes in action for myself! So we went with the Danleys." It turned out to be a fortuitous decision because Danley's patented Synergy Horn technology results in particularly well-defined beam widths - just the sort of thing necessary to keep energy on the good students of Lovett and off of the overly reflective walls.
With the school year just underway, everyone is immensely pleased with the new middle school, and as the central venue that brings all of the middle-schoolers together, the multipurpose room and its unusually intelligible sound system are a hit. "I am impressed by how even the coverage is, despite the challenging acoustical environment," said Henschen. "It's not the sort of thing I'm used to hearing in a system like this. The entire audio spectrum is incredibly smooth across the space. And those Danley boxes are efficient! During the inspection, I had to turn attenuate the downfill to keep from blowing the first few rows away!"
The only down side to all of this, of course, is that the middle-schoolers will grow accustomed to high-fidelity audio during their assemblies, and so their matriculation to the high-school facility may come with a slightly less inspiring pep rally! Perhaps the high school facility will receive an upgrade of its own in the not-so-distant future?
ABOUT DANLEY SOUND LABS Danley Sound Labs is the exclusive home of Tom Danley, one of the most innovative loudspeaker designers in the industry today and recognized worldwide as a pioneer for "outside the box" thinking in professional audio technology. www.danleysoundlabs.com
PHOTO CAPTION Atlanta's Newcomb & Boyd chose Danley SH-50 and SH-95 loudspeakers, backed by a single Danley TH-50 subwoofer, to handle the acoustically challenging multipurpose room at Lovett Middle School.