Historic Chapin Modernizes

Century-old Landmark Adds New Projection, Audio and Acoustics

By Andy McDonough

Chapin Hall is a historic concert hall on the campus of Williams College in picturesque Williamstown MA. Built in the 1920s and widely recognized for its resonant acoustics and period architecture, the hall is used as a performance space for Williams’ Music Department concerts and recitals, as well as concert events of the popular Berkshire Symphony. In addition, the hall has traditionally hosted important landmark academic ceremonies, including the college’s Baccalaureate and Convocation programs and public events. Inevitably, the beautiful venue, often described as the “gem” of the campus, had begun to show its age, and a multiyear project was launched to address the issues and rejuvenate the 900-seat hall. According to Williams College’s Senior Project Manager, Bruce Decoteau, “The overarching goal was to bring the hall into compliance with current building codes and to introduce new technology to satisfy the needs of all the different groups who use the space while preserving the historic hall’s classic architecture and grandeur.”

 

Need For New Technology

More than a restoration, the project would equip Chapin Hall, the largest venue on campus (outside of sports facilities), to better serve current users, as well as provide new technology to expand its uses. As an example, with no permanent projection system, every presentation that required projection required an outside contractor, the rigging of a temporary projector and setting up a portable screen. A new projection system would facilitate the speaker or panel conducting a lecture or event’s ability to project images, supporting documents or film. A redesigned audio system and improved acoustics would increase the hall’s value for solo artists and performing ensembles, as well as making it an attractive venue for new events. With 30 years of experience managing building projects for Williams College, Decoteau’s project management skills played a central role in the hall’s redesign. To reach consensus on what improvements would best serve the college, a design charrette was conducted where all the stakeholders gathered on the stage to exchange thoughts about what they thought Chapin Hall should be and how it could be improved. Stakeholders included music department leaders, college event planners, Ann Beha Architects of Boston MA, construction managers and expert AV consultants. The team exchanged ideas, taking measurements and notes that would ultimately develop into a comprehensive project plan. To implement the new building designs, the team organized the project into three phases using a CM at Risk (CMAR) model. “The CM schedules and bids all the work to subcontractors,” noted Decoteau. Two CM firms, Consigli Construction of Milford MA and Shawmut Design and Construction of West Springfield MA, provided the construction and engineering expertise to complete the phases of this challenging project.

 

Respectfully Reconfigured

Early stages of the project respectfully reconfigured portions of the interior of the concert hall to improve acoustic isolation and clarity, add nearly silent air conditioning, improve seating and sightlines, and provide new audio and video technology. Several teams of construction and technology experts had to be engaged and challenged by Consigli, and then Shawmut, to transform the space into a modern and versatile performance venue while retaining the charm and natural acoustic properties that have made the hall a popular performance venue. In addition to physical improvements to the hall, early phases of the project changed the slope of the main floor to improve seating and create space for a collapsible stage extension. “Because the stage extension displaces about 125 seats when it is deployed,” said Decoteau, “the design had to consider how the displaced seats could be reinstalled for special events when full seating capacity is required.” Through careful planning, the use of modular seating sections and rearrangement of aisles, the total seating capacity of the hall has remained essentially unchanged. The new seating design also brings the venue into compliance with today’s codes and standards. A final phase of the project will add an acoustic reflector array over the stage extension to improve hearing conditions for performers and counter the effects of the hall’s vaulted ceiling. The installation of the reflector array is planned for late summer 2017.

 

Quality Audio Design

Shawmut Design and Construction was responsible for bidding and coordinating the installation of the audio/visual package for the historic hall. Kirkegaard Associates (www.kirkegaard.com), an audio/ video and acoustics consulting firm based in Chicago IL, designed the systems, and MFI Productions (www.mfiproductions. com) of Hooksett NH completed the team as the integrator/installer on the project. Kirkegaard’s Principal AV Consultant Jonathan Darling appreciated the challenges associated with improving a room for both acoustic performance and productions with audio reinforcement. “Kirkegaard Associates was the consultant for both the audio and acoustic design of the renovation,” he said. “However, the acoustic program was primarily to improve the performance of the space for acoustic music, which does not necessarily help the conditions for audio.” From his initial survey, Darling was particularly concerned about the reverberance of a space with so much reflected energy off the long side walls. “The hall has a rather long throw to the back and is relatively narrow,” he observed. In order to best manage the throw distance, considering the reverberance and geometry, Darling conducted a loudspeaker demonstration featuring two of the only line array systems he felt provided sufficient horizontal control. Both manufacturers’ products performed well, but the NEXO system provided great sound with the best economic advantages for the school.

 

Darling worked closely with NEXO to design a new audio system for the space using EASE (Enhanced Acoustic Simulator for Engineers) software and NS-1 system configuration software. According to Darling, “The flexibility of the Geo S12 system with 10° and 30° vertical dispersion loudspeakers, as well as 80° and 120° horizontal coverage, provides a flexible design palette for determining the best system.” MFI Production Manager Rick Elliott and his installation team implemented Darling’s audio design, making every effort to be as discreet as possible with all AV equipment. This included using more floor boxes instead of wall panels than would be typical, and trying to keep the loudspeaker design as visually unobtrusive as possible. Elliott hung two arrays of four NEXO GeoS1210- PW main line array loudspeakers to cover mid and high frequencies in a left-right stereo configuration, each with a NEXO GeoS1230-PW configured for downfill. “The main arrays are large,” noted Darling, “but they hang near the architecture quite beautifully.” In addition, Darling’s plan called for RCF SUB 8004-A-S subwoofers to be placed beneath the arrays, where they are mostly concealed by the balcony railings. Additional loudspeakers to complete audio coverage for the room include four NEXO M620 front-fill speakers to support the expanded seating area when the stage extension is not in use, two NEXO PS8U side-fill speakers, two NEXO PS8UPW balcony-fill speakers and two Innovox MLA-16 slim micro line array speakers, each with 16 one-inch full-range inverted dome drivers as onstage fills. Two ElectroVoice TX1152FM 15-inch speakers and four Electro-Voice TX1122FM 12-inch speakers are available as relocatable stage monitors, along with two compact Galaxy HS7 units that can be deployed as stand-mounted monitors. NEXO NXAMP4x4 and NXAMP4x1 amplifiers equipped with NXDT104 Dante cards provide power for the mains, front fill, side fill and balcony fill, with a Lab. gruppen E4:2 amplifier dedicated for backstage and onstage fill speakers, and four Lab.gruppen E12:2 2-channel amplifiers reserved for monitors. BSS BLU100 and BLU806 Soundweb London DSPs equipped with analog input and output cards are used for processing audio, and amplifiers are wired to a processing rack in a redundant fashion with both Dante and XLR connections. BLU-Link is used to route the signals of each unit and provide additional signal processing power. A Denon DN-500R solid-state SD/USB recorder/player was configured, along with a Focusrite ISA-2 mic preamp for recording, but Dante signals are also available to William College’s remote recording suite.

 

 

Controlling The Audio

To control audio, a Yamaha QL5 64-channel digital mixer was specified. “The smaller QL1 console was considered,” recalls Elliott, “but after reviewing the school’s needs it was decided that the additional channels would more easily support special events and would result in much less reconfiguration.” The console is fed by a 16-channel Yamaha RIO1608-D I/O expansion module located in the basement, and an additional 32-channel RIO3224-D I/O expansion module is installed in a rolling equipment rack for onstage use. “The RIO3224 was added once the system was installed,” said Elliott. “For sound engineers who have to mic ensembles, the additional inputs provided by the RIO3224 simplify setup and minimize reconfiguration.” Throughout the project, significant attention was paid to flexibility for the new AV infrastructure installed throughout the hall. This included two Cisco SG300-10 10-port managed switches for Dante along with about 40,000 feet of cabling that includes Cat5/6, new runs of 10/2 speaker wire (main arrays), 12/2 speaker wire (fill and monitors) and all AES3-rated mic/line cabling. The design includes extensive patch connections organized and implemented by Elliott and his team using two Audio Access WEP-HN-C-32-N-2-D line-level audio patchbays and two Bittree B96DC-FNSST/ E3 M2OU12B mic-level patchbays. Data patching includes 16 locations throughout the hall, where Dante and video protocols are available. For optimal microphone positioning, six Servoreeler Systems SRL-40 microphone suspension units were installed, with two at the proscenium and four located at the lip of the stage. The units are supported by a Servoreeler Systems SRC-12, three-section controller and power supply, mounting hardware, and a Servoreeler Systems MPS- 2 monofilament positioning servo unit. Microphone choices for the installation include four Audio-Technica U853RW general-purpose mics over the stage, four Crown PCC-160 boundary microphones and a matched pair of DPA ST2006C compact stereo omni microphones, along with a pair of Shure KSM137/SL stereo cardioid condenser microphones. Shure SM57 and SM58s are used onstage along with Sennheiser MD421 II cardioid dynamic microphones and Whirlwind, Radial and Pro Co Sound direct boxes. Wireless microphone equipment includes Countryman B6W5FF05BSL wireless black and beige lavalier mics, Countryman E6OW5L2SL miniature headset mics, Shure ULXD1 wireless mic bodypack transmitters, and Shure ULXD2 transmitters for both B58 wireless mics and SM87 wireless condenser mics. A Shure ULXD4Q 4-channel wireless system receiver is used to receive wireless signals from the stage.

 

Projection

Both the design and deployment of a state-of-the-art projection system, including projector placement in a large plenum space above the rear balcony of the 100-year-old hall, represented significant challenges for the team. The Christie Boxer 2K20 HD DLP 20,000 lumen video projector’s location in a plenum area made heat dissipation less of a concern, but downward angle from the projector location required careful planning. “We were forced to use a combination of lens shift and physically tilting the projector a few degrees to handle the vertical throw angle,” noted Darling. To navigate the large projector into the prescribed location in the plenum, Elliott and his team created a cardboard mode of the 160-pound projector and 100-pound rigging frame that would have to travel up ship’s ladders, through man doors, across a catwalk where installers could not completely stand upright and, ultimately, through an opening made in an existing wall of the old structure. Even with careful planning, it took a team of four installers the better part of a day to install the Christie video projector outfitted with a 3.89-5.43:1 HB zoom lens into its rigging frame in the plenum. Design considerations for Darling included the projector’s great image quality, but also its ability to be upgraded in light output and to 4K resolution that would preserve the school’s initial projector investment. Darling’s video design specified the use of a Draper custom Paragon/Series V motorized front-projection screen with a lowvoltage Draper Controller and Draper’s MS1000X high-definition 144″x256″ screen surface. The choice of the screen surface was due to the number and locations of windows in the hall. “Because there is minimal ambient light control in Chapin Hall,” said Darling, “we were concerned about having a washed-out image.” To address the issue, Darling specified a projection screen that reduces the effect of off-axis ambient light. The combination of a hightech screen and the ability to upgrade the projector’s output represented a significant insurance policy for the school that Darling built into the design. An Extron DTP CrossPoint 84 8×4 scaling presentation matrix switcher equipped with DTP (digital twisted pair) was installed to process video signals along with an Extron HDMI 4K receiver. Five Extron DTP T DWP 4K 232 D 2-input DTP transmitters and an Extron DTP T HD2 4K 230 DTP transmitter for HDMI w/input loopthrough were placed at key locations in the hall, along with four Extron HDMI 4K 230 Rx DTP receivers. An Extron FOXBOX fiberoptic multimode receiver and transmitter converts and hauls HDMI over fiber up to the projector. The video design also called for two Marshall MLYNX-702 seven-inch dual rackmount video monitors, a rackmounted Oppo BDP-105/D 3D Blu-ray player and a Panasonic AW-UE70 integrated 4K PTZ camera capable of 4K and digital streaming. AJA Hi5-Plus mini-converters convert SDI signals to HDMI. Elliott had the Extron programming expertise on his team to do much of the video system programming ahead of the installation. “Our programmer provided the options that the college indicated they needed,” he recalled. “Then, after the users got some experience with the system, we were able to incorporate their suggestions that make presentations easier.” Central to the hall’s new AV control ability is a Cisco SG300-28PP 20-port managed switch that provides connectivity for an Extron IPCP Pro 350 IP Link control processor, the PTZ camera, and supports the use of Extron’s TLP Pro 720T seven-inch tabletop touchpanel and Extron TLP Pro 720M seven-inch wall-mount touchpanel. These capacitive touchscreen units support color, a 1024×600 resolution and convenient Power over Ethernet (PoE) that provides power and communication over a single Ethernet cable. Connection points are provided for use on stage and at FOH. Two Extron IPL Pro CR88 IP Link Pro processor 8-relay interfaces control the Servoreelers, using a design-build conversion box to connect them to the 50-pin control input on the Servoreeler Systems SRC-12.

 

Satisfied With Rejuvenated Space

Since the installation, Decoteau reports that the stakeholders at Williams College are all very satisfied with the rejuvenated space and the AV technology that historic Chapin Hall can now offer. “I know that the music department absolutely loves the improvements, including the new stage extension,” he said. “In addition, transforming the hall from performance mode to full seating capacity has become much more efficient. For both performances and presenters, the new AV system is proving to be highly useful and successful.” The project has been a success, but no one on the team will minimize the complications encountered in retrofitting a hall of this age. “What contributed to the project’s success,” recalled Darling, “was an extremely conscientious and dedicated design and construction team. The architect, general contractor, electrical contractor and AV integrator were all committed to quality. The project profited from the open and frank discussions and decision making with the college’s representatives. This was really a dream project in the professionalism of all involved and the result shows how much care was put into it.”

This article originally appeared in the June 2017 issue of Sound & Communication magazine. To read more, click the link below:

http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/5740c02d#/5740c02d/54

 

MFI Welcomes Seasoned Project Manager

MFI in Hooksett, New Hampshire is excited to welcome Robert Klahre to the team as its newest project manager. With over 30 years of audiovisual experience acquired from his various roles across the country, Klahre’s philosophy is to “plan and budget for every detail while adding production value to the event wherever possible.” Having most recently served director of event technology for PSAV at Sunriver Resort in Oregon, Klahre was responsible for all planning, operations and sales of hotel-provided audiovisual services. Prior to that he held similar positions at The Westin Providence in Rhode Island and Hyatt Regency in Bonita Springs Florida.

Klahre’s role as project manager comes at a pivotal time for MFI, which is rapidly expanding its client base and business. “We’re in a strong place, expecting more activity as the year unfolds and we’re looking to put Klahre’s skills to use. We’re eager to have him initiate and develop the relationship with the client,” said Denis Gosselin, President of MFI.

Klahre’s client management experience is a particular strong asset as his past experiences include event manager at Scharff Weisberg Inc in New York where he managed audiovisual technology and staging at events for clients such as Mastercard Worldwide, HBO, Vornado Realty, Northwestern University, Pitney Bowes, Interior Design Magazine, and many of the nation’s top art museums. He received his B.A in Broadcasting and Film from Boston University.

To contact Klahre, email him at robert@mfiproductions.com.

Full Court University Basketball Gym Gets NEXO Overhaul

As a NCAA Division II varsity collegiate institution, Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) recently upgraded the Fieldhouse’s sound system, home to a full court basketball gym. With the help of MFI Productions of Hooksett, New Hampshire, the Fieldhouse now boasts a new NEXO GEO S12 line array system that will provide even and amplified acoustics to the 2,000-seat bleachers plus floor seating.

According to Rick Elliot, Production Manager at MFI, who designed and completed the installation, the Fieldhouse’s 40’ ceiling needed a new approach to New Hampshire’s fastest growing college with over 4,000 on-campus students and 60,000 online students. “We worked with an acoustician to ensure that NEXO GEO S12’s loudspeaker system would provide maximum coverage to the floor area and work well with Fieldhouse’s multi-use space. It’s used almost as much for sporting events as it is for other campus events and we took that into account when examining the acoustical treatment plan.”

MFI offered SNHU an opportunity to demo the advanced technology prior to installing the NEXO system. “We’ve worked with SNHU for several years and wanted to provide them with a highly intelligible sound to the listener and create that same feeling for the speaker,” explained Elliot. In anticipation of an upcoming open, the president of the university invited MFI to demo the NEXO system. “He was extremely pleased with the quality of how his voice sounded and it’s rewarding that he placed his faith in us to do the installation. It’s something that the campus community will enjoy for decades to come.”

The NEXO GEO S12 loudspeaker system was designed to be a main left-right (LR) system flown at the highest achievable height and 10’ in front of the garage door wall allowing for a stage location against that wall for various speaking events and musical acts that will provide maximum coverage to the remaining floor area. M620 loudspeakers were added for the area directly at the front edge of the stage to provide better gain before feedback. Elliott said a processor would be installed to handle protection and tuning of the system. “It’s important to note that the BSS BLU Signal Processor that was installed is capable of a simple system program with the addition of some dedicated utility mic inputs and wireless mic systems because then it can be controlled via a wireless router and an iPad using the Harman HiQnet Motion Control.”

Improving audio quality was a high priority for Thomas Helm, Manager Media Services at SNHU. “The distributive system that was installed for basketball games was unusable for public address in formal events like Admissions Open House, Accepted Student Day and Convocation. MFI came in and set up a test system using NEXO line arrays, and once SNHU’s president heard the transformational audio quality he approved the budget on the spot,” he stated. Since the NEXO installation, the Fieldhouse has not experienced any audio concerns due to the system’s excellent gain, flexibility of microphone placement and elimination of feedback. “The installation provided by MFI was first rate; friendly and professional all the way,” Helm praised.

Two NX4x4 amplifiers power the system and were chosen over the NX4x1 amps just in case a special event require the additional power, as well as offering upgradability to the system, since the 4x4s can easily be reconfigured. The main part of the line array on each side was split to the amp, with Ch’s A&C having two GEO S1210 loudspeakers each and Ch’s B&D having three GEO S1210 loudspeakers each. The GEO S1230s, one per side, are on their own, utilizing Ch’s A&B of the second NXAmp.  The three delayed M620 front fills take up the remaining two channels when necessary.

“Overall, the NEXO line array has been the best investment my department could have made to eliminate reverberation and dramatically improve acoustics,” Helm concluded.

MFI Productions Named Preferred Vendor for NH High Tech Council

MFI Productions in Hooksett, New Hampshire is pleased to announce a new partnership with NH High Tech Council (NHHTC) in Manchester, NH.

For about 35 years, NHHTC has served as a forum for the public and private sectors to initiate programs that promote technology-based development in NH. Through its breakfast series, monthly and annual events and leadership programs, NHHTC is a strong presence in NH’s economical ecosystem.

“We’re excited to have selected a well-established event producer as our exclusive partner to provide our members with the best experience during our events,” said Matt Cookson, executive director of the Council.

As part of the partnership, NHHTC will recognize MFI as its exclusive service provider and MFI will provide best rate services and underwriting for the Council. With over 35 years of audio, visual and event technology management, MFI is poised to serve the growing companies in the New Hampshire and New England area.

“I am extremely pleased to be working with the state’s High Tech Council as they have been a leader in the technology sector for New Hampshire. Their business members contribute an entrepreneurial spirit across all fields and we’re looking forward to collaborating with them in the future,” said Denis Gosselin, President of MFI Productions.

MFI will help NHHTC kickoff their first Entrepreneur Forum of 2017 with Emerson Ecologics to take place on February 15. For more information about any of NHHTC’s upcoming events, http://www.nhhtc.org/

A.J. Gordon Memorial Chapel at Gordon College installs NEXO Geo S12 Series Speakers

Wenham, Mass.—The A.J. Gordon Memorial Chapel at Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts is among one of the top Christian colleges and the only non-denominational college in New England. The chapel seats 1,600, making it one of the largest venues on Boston’s North Shore. Recently, MFI Productions of Hooksett, New Hampshire, installed a 21st century audio system based around a new, white NEXO GEO S12 line array.

“The Chapel on campus is the largest performance venue on campus, bringing international speakers, scholars, musicians and events to its stage annually,” states Chris Imming, director of media services. Along with the Gordon’s academic curriculum, the space hosts Chapel services, Convocation programs, and special events, to promote learning, Christian community and opportunities for engagement. Students gather in the Chapel for large services and presentations throughout the week. but the space also serves as a performance stage. Large–scale ensembles, choirs, and bands often practice and perform there. Gordon’s worship teams include four to eight musicians, vocalists, acoustic and electric guitars, piano, bass, violin, and percussion. “We needed a system that would meet all of these components,” said Imming. “We wanted to provide audiences with clear and intelligible speech reproduction while also meeting the growing expectations of professional and touring artists.”

Over the years, Gordon’s Chapel has offered sold out performances to several touring artists, including Third Day, Caedmon’s Call, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Jars of Clay, the Art Music Justice Tour (Sara Groves, Charlie Peacock, Brandon Heath, Derek Webb), and Jeremy Camp.

“Often there is little to no time to flip the space,” said Imming, who helped research solutions to support the venue’s needs. “Having a system with the NEXO GEO S12 at its core allow us to continue to host touring artists with less dependence on outboard gear. We hope this reduction in production set up time and expenses will allow us to host additional tours in the future.”

“The primary goal of the new system design was to address both coverage and intelligibility issues,” states Denis Gosselin, MFI Productions. “Both had been lacking since the facility’s construction in the early 1990’s. The initial system was designed to support speech since the use of the venue was more traditional during that period. As praise and worship performances increased, a ‘portable’ system was purchased for use when the praise team was leading worship. That system relied heavily on a pair of single 18” subs and a single 15” 2–way cabinet on the stage platform. While that system did provide full range audio support, it was never intended as a long–term solution since components were undersized for the venue and left huge gaps in coverage.”

The College researched their system analysis and design needs in–house, a testament to their passion for the space, its need, and the needs of the community. As an educational opportunity, students were also involved in the design and installation process.“ Both InfoComm and NSCA training was essential in our ability to carry the project from the design stage through completion,” notes Imming. “Throughout the design process, we evaluated both point source and linear array systems from six or seven companies. While linear arrays are certainly not the best solution for every venue, we chose to pursue compact array designs for the project after completing some EASE modeling of the hall. Satisfied by the computer modeling, we felt that arrays would provide a cleaner install and, in white, disappear into the stage proscenium. We narrowed the list of manufacturers down to three and scheduled onsite demos. Each demo system came in for two days to allow time for flying and tuning. The extended demo period also allowed us to utilize each system for a worship team rehearsal, a regular chapel with a full house, and critical listening demos with various faculty and staff members whom regularly utilize the space.”

Gosselin added that one of the challenges in a space like the A.J. Memorial Chapel was to balance system design with aesthetics by maintaining the clean look of a traditional New England chapel. “Considering no existing rigging was in place, previous touring groups always had to ground support arrays or utilize speaker stacks on the stage, taking up real estate on the stage and providing a disproportionate amount of SPL to the front section. Several months into the design stage, we came up with a rigging platform that would provide us with great flexibility to accommodate system demos and fine–tune array placement during the install. With limited weight capacity of the rigging platform, the NEXO GEO S12 Series provided an aesthetically pleasing install while maintaining intelligibility and musicality.” The complete system includes 14 white GEO S1210 boxes and 14 GEO S1230, four NEXO RS15 white subs, four NEXO PS8 speakers and two NXAmps 4×4 and one 4×1.

“We were all very impressed with how the GEO S12s made it all the way to the back of the room and remained warm and clear even under the balcony,” notes Gosselin. “Since this building has a wide range of audio demands ranging from traditional services, full theatre productions, and full concert applications, it was extremely important to get a box and design that would fit the bill. The NEXO rig delivered the sound to the room in a very specific and predictable manner, which helped to cover the listening area evenly and keep as much reflection off of the hard surfaced walls as possible. Lloyd Kinkaid, Yamaha design specialist, and his knowledge of NEXO’s GeoSoft was a huge time saver and allowed us to play around with SPL and pattern options before the first GEO S12 box was hung. Most importantly, it was accurate, with the end result reflecting what was predicted on our laptop! To an audio contractor, Lloyd and GeoSoft are a very powerful source of knowledge, instrumental in getting it right the first time.”

For the upper balcony, MFI Productions chose to hang two NEXO PS8 speakers to the ceiling to help restore any high frequency loss after the 100 throw. “Despite their small size, Gosselin says, the PS8 puts out an amazing level of full frequency sound. The asymmetrical high frequency horns allowed us to dial in coverage to both the upper and lower sections of the balcony without throwing extraneous sound on the back wall and added just a little extra sparkle at the very top of the balcony…Perfect!”

MFI also installed an Aviom Pro16 Digital Snake, Aviom Pro 16 Personal Monitoring System, Sennheiser IEM300 G2/G3 Series, Sennheiser Antenna Combiner, Professional Wireless Helical Antenna and Low Loss cable, Sennheiser “It was a pleasure to work with MFI Productions on both the demo and install as they were very accommodating when it came to partnering with us on the install. Our students had the opportunity to get some real hands–on experience flying and installing our tour–grade system. Now that the new system is installed we finally have an audio system that is up to par with the rest of the video, projection, and lighting capabilities.”

Historic Gibson’s Bookstore Expands with Ashly

Gibsons_Bookstore_ExteriorGibson’s Bookstore opened in Concord New Hampshire in 1898 and has been a cornerstone of the community’s cultural and intellectual milieu ever since. Seizing on the revitalization of the city’s historic downtown, owner Michael Herrmann recently moved the bookstore down the street to the first floor of a brand new five-story office building. At 10,000 square-feet, the move more than doubled Gibson’s floor space and incorporated the newly-acquired Imagination Village educational toy store. The fact that it was new construction gave Herrmann the opportunity to design the store to his exact specifications. Included within those specifications is a sophisticated sound reinforcement system that will gracefully accommodate events of varying sizes and styles. A single, two-rack space Ashly ne8250.70pem eight-channel 250W network amplifier with an on-board Protea™ DSP processor is paired with four Ashly neWR-5 wall-mounted remote controls to form the cost-effective heart of the new location’s flexible, easy-to-use sound system. Factory-installed microphone preamp inputs complete the amplifier package.

“The old location was small enough that a simple, consumer-type sound system could do the job,” explained Rick Elliott, production manager at MFI Productions, the firm that designed and installed the new sound system at Gibson’s Bookstore. “When the owner was looking over the plans with designer Kat Whouley of Books In Common, he realized it would take something more high-tech to do it right. He wanted the flexibility to accommodate any type of event, but he also wanted to make sure that his staff could operate the system intuitively.” Herrmann stopped in at Concord’s Capitol Center for the Arts (literally right across the street from the new location) for recommendations, which led him to MFI Productions. The firm worked with Herrmann for an entire year to ensure that the sound system they installed would be right in every respect from the beginning. After all, they had the opportunity to install it while the building-to-be was still nothing more than steel and concrete.

As the design evolved, the number of zones grew from just a few to eight. Separate Pandora music boxes allow different content to play in the children’s section, the main floor, the café, and the on-hold phone system. A handful of line and microphone inputs accommodate a simple acoustic music setup, a presentation, or a lecture. Two outdoor speakers handle the café’s outdoor seating area, while Twenty-four Electro-Voice Evid C8.2 coaxial ceiling speakers cover the bookstore and are zoned so that speakers can be either muted or used for events of various sizes in either the children’s section or the main section. Since it was easy to install during construction, Elliott ran a few extra input lines that the store can grow into if needed. Four Ashly neWR-5 network wall-mounted remote controls placed at strategic locations allow staff to intuitively select zone inputs and control the volume in each zone.

A single, two-rack space Ashly ne8250.70pem provides all of the necessary microphone preamplifiers, input processing, I/O matrixing, and loudspeaker processing, along with eight channels of amplification at 250W per channel into 70V.

“The Ashly ne8250.70pem was the right solution because of its simplicity and flexibility,” said Elliott. “It could do everything that the expanded Gibson’s would require, and, when paired with four Ashly neWR-5 wall-mounted remote controls, could deliver that functionality in a way that would be transparent for the staff. When you consider that the two-rack space ne8250.70pem is handling all of the processing and amplification for the entire store, its cost is more than fair.”

To help with the evolving system use, the IT contractor allowed Elliott to get through the bookstore’s firewall so that he can make adjustments to the ne8250.70pem from anywhere in the world.