Charlotte Sports Park earned first place in USA Today’s Readers’ Choice Awards for Best Spring Training Facility, an honor it owes in large part to a $27 million renovation in 2009 that gave the park every accommodation for which a baseball fan could hope. In an effort to further enhance the amenities of this facility, local A/V integration firm DB Sound Systems of Punta Gorda, Florida along with Crossman Electrical Services, Inc., stepped in before the 2015 Spring Training season with a new sound reinforcement system centered on Ashly Audio processing, amplification, and user control, along with distributed Community loudspeakers. During the regular season, the new sound system will support the minor league Charlotte Stone Crabs.
Inputs to the new system include Shure wired and wireless microphones and a Denon CD/MP3 player. A powerful Ashly ne24.24M Protea™ modular digital matrix processor outfitted with eight inputs and sixteen outputs provides customized processing for the loudspeaker and assisted-listening zones, a record output, and a remote output. Three 4-channel 1500W Ashly nXe1.54 multi-mode network amplifiers power the loudspeakers, and Brown made good use of their programmable outputs: ten channels operate at 70 volts for eighteen Community R.5COAX99 loudspeakers, sixteen Community R.25-94 loudspeakers, and sixteen Community R.5.94 loudspeakers, whereas two channels operate at four ohms for a pair of long-throw Community R2-52 loudspeakers. A Lowell Pivoting Pedestal wall rack allows easy wiring and service, and Furman sequencing and power conditioning provides turnkey operation.
“The facilities within the Ashly ne24.24M matrix processor allowed us to tune each zone perfectly so that the transition between zones is absolutely seamless,” said Brown. “Different zones have different loudspeaker complements that require different equalization, compression, and delays. Once we got everything in place, we realized that there were a few hot spots. We dialed them back a bit and added some more compression, and everything came out sounding very nice.”
He continued, “In the announcer’s booth we installed a simple Ashly FR-16 network sixteen-channel remote fader bank. It’s custom programmed to give users simple volume control over six input sources and three outputs: headphones, the concourse, and the remote feed. The Ashly processing provides ducking to let spoken word override music. It’s almost like there’s a sound operator there. It’s seamless.” The separate concourse volume allows the users to mute music to that zone for the live ragtime bands that often play there.
Brown originally envisioned placing the three Ashly nXe1.54 amplifiers far from the announcer’s booth, but once he hooked them up, he revised that plan. “The Ashly amps are so efficient that even at full stand volume, the noise from the amps was below that of the air conditioning in the announcers booth. That allowed us to put the rack in the booth for the convenience of the operator. Because they leave the system on outside of normal use, the fact that the Ashly amps revert to a power-saving mode was a huge benefit. Really, right out of the box, the amps seemed tailor made for this installation.”
The park has received a lot of positive feedback from its fans, and some of it went directly to DB Sound Systems. “One of the nicest compliments we received came from two older ladies on the first day the new system was up and running,” said Brown. “They had season passes and had been to every game since the renovation a few years ago. They sought us out way up on the third deck and asked, ‘are you responsible for the new sound system?’ I was a little reluctant, thinking we were going to get chewed out for something, but it was the exact opposite. They wanted to shake our hands because they had been able to clearly hear every single word of the announcements! All in all, Charlotte Sports Park is one of the best installations I’ve done in my forty years of working in professional sound. Everyone involved had a smile on their face!”