Erected in 1875, Sage Chapel sits near the center of the picturesque campus of Cornell University in Ithaca New York. It is expressly non-denominational, and its interior is adorned by symbols of all the major and minor religions from around the world.
For services and other events, Sage Chapel seats over 700 people, plus a large choir. To help voices carry with intelligibility in the large space, its sound reinforcement system has evolved with the state of technology over the decades. Apart from the chapel’s two organs, the system also provides reinforcement for any musical instruments used. Its latest upgrade condensed seven feet of rack space used for 1990s-era processing and amplification into just seven inches using an Ashly Pema 8250 and an Ashly ne4250pe. Each unit combines Ashly’s Protea signal processing with clean, high-powered amplifier channels – twelve in all.
“We put the previous system in over twenty years ago to deal with issues of intelligibility that were plaguing them at the time,” said Barny Cole, president of Calf Audio, also of Ithaca. “We put in three sets of loudspeakers arrayed in stereo pairs on delays running from the front of the chapel to the back. It delivered great sound quality, but it took a ton of processing to dial in. In those days, that meant a lot of separate rack units to individually equalize and time align each component. That system took seven feet of rack space! The university approached us recently to ask if we could condense all that processing because the closet was coveted by the janitorial staff. Of course, they didn’t want to lean their mops against a bunch of electrical equipment, so if we could condense it down and raise it up, everyone would be happy.”
With its fully-implemented front-end processing capabilities, the Ashly Pema 8250 now takes care of all of the “everyday” mixing and processing chores. It also delivers eight 250-Watt amplifier channels, all within two rack spaces. Because the Pema 8250 also includes line-level outputs from the processing section, it feeds the four-channel Ashly ne4250pe amplifiers with optional processing. All together, the system provides twelve 250-Watt amplifier channels and all of the processing they require in a tamperproof package. “I’m predisposed to choosing Ashly,” Cole admitted. “The company is a close neighbor – they’re just an hour-and-a-half down the road – and I like the individuals who work there. Ashly’s products are famously solid and reliable, and their service is spectacular. Since they deliver all of that at a huge price advantage, it would seem silly to bother with anyone else!”
An Ashly neWR-5 wall panel remote control provides simple selection of several presets. At its most basic, the Ashly Pema 8250 auto-mixes all of the usual inputs. The presets also allow selection of arrangements for other common event scenarios. For more complicated events, a console can patch in and take control of the inputs. Calf Audio is usually called in to provide sound engineer support for those more complicated events.