Bowmansville Volunteer Fire Department Upgrades Audio with Ease

Bowmansville_FireDeptWith the celebration of its one-hundredth year in operation still fresh on everyone’s minds, the Bowmansville Volunteer Fire Department in upstate New York secured modest funds to refurbish the A/V systems in its 4,500-square foot recreation room. The room is used by the volunteers and the community for gatherings spanning everything from lectures to parties. In addition, the company uses the room to stage training and other educational events. A Pema 4250.70 combination 8×8 Protea™ matrix processor and four-channel amplifier has breathed new life into the system.

“Their old audio system was little more than a basic mixer-amplifier and a few wired mics,” explained Karl Maciag, A/V integrations engineer at Toshiba Business Solutions in nearby Tonawanda, New York. It’s A/V solutions department designed and installed the system for the BVFD. He continued, “They had terrible gain-before-feedback and marginal intelligibility. Of course, budget was a big concern, which necessitated reusing the existing loudspeakers… but with a new Ashly Pema processor and amplifier. We sold the department’s point-person on the Pema by bringing him to another fire company where we had installed a Pema. He loved it, along with the Ashly WR-5 remote control that made it easy to select sources and adjust volumes. In addition, the Pema was critical because it packs full DSP and four 250W amplifiers in just two rack units. That’s exactly how much room we had – no more.”

“We were early adopters of the Ashly Pema and we’ve had great success with it ever since,” said Maciag. “It’s one of the variables that we never have to worry about. Moreover, the Pema – like all Ashly products – sounds great, with transparent but effective algorithms and faithful amplification.”

The system is split in two main zones: one for the bar and another for the rest of the room, including a new projection system Maciag prescribed. One Ashly neWR-5 remote control in each zone allows intuitive selection of AM/FM, cable, a resident computer, a computer tie-in, an MP3 player jack, and two new wireless microphones, along with master volume control. A small Crestron keypad controls the projection system.

“The Ashly Pema is also a good size for jobs like this,” added Leamon Hall, the technician with Toshiba Business Solutions who installed and commissioned the system. “It has eight inputs, which is enough to cover most input counts with a few to spare that the client can grow into. Ashly’s control protocol is well constructed. It’s easy to set up the network neWR-5 controller for a customized interface, and if I ever have questions, Ashly tech support staff are always ready with an answer. In short, the Ashly Pema is deeply functional, easy to configure, and quick to deploy.”

Although the existing loudspeakers were not everything Maciag had hoped for, the Pema’s extensive equalization controls allowed Hall to dial in sound quality that would give the BVFD plenty of gain before feedback and intelligibility.