The New York State Department of Labor is responsible for enforcing labor laws and administering unemployment benefits in the Empire State. This is no small task, of course, and the department’s huge team of lawyers, administrators, and investigators do their work in Building 12 at the W. Averell Harriman State Office Building Campus in Albany, New York.
Constructed in 1963, Building 12 shelters 675,000 square-feet spread over five floors plus a basement, and, until recently, its antiquated emergency paging system was failing in one way or another in most zones. Prime contractor SimplexGrinnell (Clifton Park, New York) subcontracted the design of a replacement emergency paging system to Pro Sound Associates (Guilderland, New York), and Pro Sound Associates owner Dominick Campana relied on Ashly Audio processing and multi-channel amplification to make the system reliable, powerful, and extremely energy-efficient. Live Sound, Inc. (Troy, New York) installed the system.
“The Department of Labor tests the emergency paging system fewer than half-a-dozen times a year, but when they need it, it’s obviously very, very important,” explained Campana. “Reliability is key. The existing system was decades old and most of the components went in when the building was being constructed. It’s probably fair to say that most zones weren’t working or weren’t working well. The huge racks of antiquated amplifiers were dead, dying, or band-aided, and they produced such a huge amount of heat that the nearby offices were forever too hot. They wanted a more energy efficient solution with a much smaller footprint. After testing all of the existing circuits, it was clear that the biggest help would come from a complete replacement of the head end, which is what we did.”
“I love Ashly’s networkability; I simply plug into the network and all of the devices are right there. It was no hassle at all.” said Campana.
Inputs to the new system include a SimplexGrinnell fire alarm panel, two new Shure MX412D paging microphones and a Tascam CDi200L CD player with iPod docks and an aux input jack for playing pre-recorded messages and for testing program audio. An Ashly ne24.24M Protea™ digital matrix processor configured with eight inputs and sixteen outputs handles input priorities, audio routing and processing, as well as network control of the system. Eleven network-ready Ashly ne-Series amplifiers with Protea™ digital processing power the system. Specifically, the rack features six of the ne8250pe.70 eight-channel 250W amps, four model ne4250pe.70 four-channel 250W amps and a two-channel ne800pe.70 rated at 400 Watts into 70V. Four Furman PL-PRO DMCs provide power distribution and monitoring. For this first phase, they reused approximately 1,000 existing 70V ceiling speakers of varying types.
“We have a history of success using Ashly gear. It gives us the consistent performance and reliability we require,” said Campana. “The Ashly amps give me 250W per channel, which I really needed in this situation. Some of the runs are really long, and line loss is significant. For example, I have one zone in the basement that’s being fed from the head end on the fifth floor on the opposite side of the building… all over existing 14-gauge copper! With the addition of their optional processing, the amps also give me fine scale control over the sound in each zone. The ne24.24M provides the coarse-scale zone processing, but each amp channel allowed me to tune for all the very different loudspeaker conditions we found in this building. Some are literally behind ceilings! In the near term, Campana will get all of the amplifiers on a monitoring network. Later, the big job of replacing loudspeakers will begin.