Ashly Exceeds Expectations at Charter School in Philadelphia

Mastery_Charter_School_ShoemakerMastery Charter Schools is a non-profit based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and its Shoemaker Campus serves seventh graders through high school seniors.

Mastery acquired the school building in 2006 and has since revitalized the community with dramatic improvements in attendance, behavior, retention, and college-readiness. That forward momentum inspired Shoemaker’s music instructor to apply for and win a grant to overhaul the sound and lighting systems in the school’s 1,000-seat auditorium. Hammonton, New Jersey-based A/V integration firm Spellcaster Productions worked with the instructor to design and install sound and lighting system that would maximize functionality and reliability within the constraints of the grant award. In that spirit, Spellcaster installed an Ashly nXp 8004 four-channel network amplifier with built-in Protea™ digital processor to reliably power and protect the main loudspeakers and subwoofers.

“The instructor had done his homework,” explained Mike Shafer, project manager of Spellcaster Productions. “They had been using nothing more than a ‘PA-on-sticks’ solution and the auditorium’s antiquated 70-volt system had evidently been out of commission since before Mastery took over the school. We came in and demoed combined Ashly processing/power with a JBL CBT column array. He was impressed with the aesthetic and the sound quality. On the front end, he had a lot of specifics in mind, such as an Allen & Heath Qu-24 digital console, a handful of specific wireless and wired microphones, and some specific lighting requests. However, he had also allocated a lot of money to overhaul a refrigerator-sized dimmer rack. Rather than mess with that, we simply gave them an entirely new dimmer rack, which freed up money to spend elsewhere.”

The new system is comprised of two JBL CBT column arrays with 70j, 70je, and 70j1 components. JBL control 25s provide delayed coverage under the balcony. The Ashly nXp 8004 provides four 800W channels of selectable High-Z or Low-Z output: main left, main right, under-balcony left, and under-balcony right.

“I love the DSP horsepower that Ashly gives me,” said Shafer. “I was able to tune the room to perfection and then lock down those settings tight. Customized built-in protections ensure that the non-professionals who run events can’t accidentally blow the system up.”

Mastery-Shoemaker AuditoriumThe Allen & Heath Qu-24 came with a 24-input/8-return digital snake that transmits over a single CAT5 cable.

“The school is pleased with the sound and functionality of the new system,” said Shafer. “Of course, their big learning curve is the console, which packs a lot of flexibility. The rest of the system basically takes care of itself. Working with the Ashly gear and the rest of the audio equipment was the easy part of the installation. We had all of that installed and tuned in just one day. Lighting, on the other hand, was a bigger time sink. I’ve used Ashly in the past and will continue to use Ashly in the future because everything works reliably as advertised and my installations always go smoothly and predictably. Of course, that saves me time and avoids frustration, and it allows me to move quickly on to the next job.”