LAKELAND, FLORIDA: Lakeland Square Mall was built in 1988 to serve Lakeland, Florida, which is situated midway between Tampa and Orlando and is thus a suburban community of both metropolitan areas. As its original sound system aged and fell into disrepair, the mall owners called on MABE Production and Installation company – also of Lakeland, Florida – to revitalize it. Confronted with the need for multiple zones with plenty of power for long 70V runs and limited rack space, MABE specified an Ashly Pema 8250.70 integrated Protea™ matrix 8x8 digital processor and eight-channel amplifier, which delivers 250W per channel in just two rack spaces.
“Lakeland Square Mall’s original sound system held its own for quite a long time, but in recent years, a steady attrition of loudspeaker failures started causing a lot of annoying volume differences,” said Richard Vaughan, project engineer and design engineer with MABE. “Some parts of the mall have high ceilings and some parts have low ceilings, and the volume differences between them weren’t perfect to begin with and were getting worse. Apart from all that, the mall is crowded on the weekends and in the evenings, but far less crowded during the weekdays. The mall staff was having control issues – the system would either be too loud on weekdays or two quiet on the weekends. There was no happy medium. They were trying to handle it manually, but that was often frustrating.”
As before the renovation, inputs to the system include simple playback devices and services along with an override paging mic. The MABE installation crew went through the mall and replaced all the inoperable or close-to-inoperable loudspeakers and rezoned the system into eight logical units. They re-tapped loudspeakers, where necessary, for more even coverage between the low and the high ceilings. Critically, they used the Ashly Pema 8250.70’s real-time clock and event scheduler features so that the system automatically turns up and down to match the traffic and mood of different days and times. The paging system is also cleaned up, with a smooth duck and zone selection for pages that do not have to go out across the entire mall.
“The Ashly Pema is a unique box, and it really fit this application perfectly,” said Vaughan. “Everything we need for the system is in two rack spaces so we could squeeze it in where they had a bit of room. The power-to-weight ratio is remarkable – eight channels at 250W per channel, and a fully functional matrix processor allowed us to do all of the special conditioning and scheduling they required. The Pema even has mic inputs, which allowed us to plug the paging mic directly into the unit! Ashly’s reliability is fantastic, which is especially important given the recent frustrations they’ve had.”
The mall opted to forgo any purpose-built user control and currently overrides scheduled volumes by turning knobs on the front of the Ashly Pema 8250.70. “The scheduler takes care of most of their needs, but they’re considering adding a physical Ashly remote control or the Ashly Remote App for an iPad,” Vaughan said. “In addition to a more elegant and controlled experience, it will allow them to page to specific zones without flipping switches. If they do decide to upgrade, we’ll be able to add the Ashly user control easily.”
ABOUT ASHLY AUDIO
Ashly Audio Inc. is recognized as a world leader in the design and manufacturing of high quality & high performance signal processing equipment and power amplification for use in the commercial sound contracting and professional audio markets. The 40-year old company is headquartered in Webster, New York U.S.A.