CHADRON, NEBRASKA – JULY 2011: The students, staff, and visitors of Chadron State College in northwest Nebraska enjoy more than just a first-rate state school with deep historical significance in the region. They enjoy access to some of the finest outdoor sporting opportunities in the country, including award winning mountain biking, fishing and hunting. Those perks may partially explain the great success CSC has had renting its modest but tremendously flexible convention space. Located in the heart of the student center, which is itself in the heart of campus, the space is comprised of five separate rooms that can combine in a variety of permutations. Recently, Haggerty’s Audio Visual of nearby Rapid City, South Dakota replaced the convention space’s aging mechanical room combiner with a vastly more robust, flexible, and intuitive Ashly Audio ne24.24M processor, paired with neWR-5 wall mount remote controls.
Each of the five rooms can seat approximately fifty people. Combined, they can accommodate four-hundred guests with tables or five hundred without. Although he cherishes his vintage home hi-fi equipment, Haggerty’s chief electronics & sound technician Steve Foudray admitted the existing multiplexer at CSC didn’t similarly earn his respect. “The multiplexer made room combinations with mechanical switches,” he said. “And those switches were simply wearing out. It didn’t perform reliably, and even when it did, today’s technology offers so much more flexibility and transparency for the end user. The time was right to bring the conference space into the 21st century.” Because the college was on a tight budget, amplified, so to speak, by the financial echoes of the Great Recession, Foudray maximized their performance-to-cost ratio by leaving the existing TOA 900-series amplifiers and contractor-grade ceiling speakers in place.
Because the Ashly ne24.24M processor uses a modular input/output design, Foudray was able to arrange it with the required sixteen inputs and five outputs with only a few unused channels left over. He connected each room’s dedicated microphones and A/V inputs to the unit. “There was abundant processing power to tailor each input according to its intended use,” he said. “For instance, I band-passed each of the microphones to shed any signal that might distract from intelligibility. Even though those sorts of adjustments hadn’t motivated the installation, it was nice to be able to use them to improve the system’s clarity overall.” In fact, it’s a good bet that new amplifiers and loudspeakers would have had substantially less impact than the newfound processing power of the Ashly ne24.24M.
But the biggest change to the system was located on the walls of each room. The staff now uses an Ashly neWR-5 networkable CAT-5 remote control to select the input sources and adjust the volume using the up/down keys. At the main equipment rack, an additional Ashly neWR-5 wall panel remote provides the interface to select any of the myriad room combinations that the staff requested using a simple diagram of the configurations with associated preset numbers. Integrating the multiple remote controls was easy because both the ne24.24M and the neWR-5 are network enabled right out of the box. “We used a router to collect and distribute the Ethernet connections between the remotes and the processor,” said Foudray. “It was fast and easy to arrange.”
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