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Middle School Musical

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Students Find Something To Sing About With A New Audio And Lighting System

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Three Ashly PE-Series amplifiers deliver 24/7 reliability and great sound to the 700-seat Hastings Middle School Auditorium in Hastings, MN.

hastings, mn—Just a half hour outside of the Twin Cities near the confluence of the St. Croix and Mississippi Rivers, Hastings, MN blends the best of near-urban, suburban, and rural living. Hastings Middle School has helped foster a uniquely engaged student body, with over 75 percent of students participating in the performing arts.

Ironically, the school’s 700-seat auditorium, an inheritance from the building’s former life as a high school, balanced at the brink of disuse for years because aging AV and lighting components were failing on a regular basis. Resuscitation and intervention kept it limping along. All of that changed at the beginning of academic year 2009-2010, after Burnsville, MN AV design/install firm Intermedia Systems Group (ISG), replaced the unreliable gear with equipment that was transparent and rock-solid, right down to the amp rack.

The goals for the new system were tripartite, yet simple. First, ISG had to build something that was remarkably reliable. Second, it had to be flexible enough to handle not just the middle school’s musical, dramatic, and variety productions, but also those of the community and of numerous private renters. Finally, it had to sound excellent.

After the school’s unrelenting nightmare of service calls, Joel Evermann, ISG project consultant, knew he had to deliver the most reliable amp rack he could, and that led him to Ashly. “The capabilities of Ashly’s PE-Series were spot-on for what we needed in this application,” he said. “We had used Ashly PE- and NE-Series amps in many previous installations, and they have been trouble-free. That, combined with their tremendous value for dollar, recommended their use at Hastings Middle School.” Two Ashly PE 1800 and one Ashly PE 3000 now grace the equipment rack.

The new amps power a complement of speakers that now cover the space perfectly, a far cry from the audible dips and peaks that used to characterize it. Yamaha Installation Series IS 2112 loudspeakers cover most of the seating, backed up from below by IS 1215 subwoofers. A delay ring of RCF loudspeakers covers the back third of the seats, an excellent sonic complement to the Yamaha units.

A Biamp Nexia DSP provides a modest amount of processing downstream from a 32-channel Yamaha LS9 console. “The LS9 provides auditorium manager Anne Blessing with some peace of mind,” Evermann said. “Since the space gets used by so many entities, some of them directly connected to the school and some not, the fact that it’s digital with complete scene recall makes transitions between users vastly simpler than it used to be. In addition, the new console has access management, so Anne can give users an appropriate level of access, but no more.��

In conjunction with the audio overhaul, ISG, in a cooperative effort with SECOA, a theatrical lighting design contractor, revamped the auditorium’s lighting system, which had also been at the cusp of crashing for a different set of reasons. They gutted the dimmer rack, rewired everything, and installed a modern complement of ETC theatrical controls and Source Four lighting fixtures.

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