The Columbia Performing Arts Centre (Columbia, MO), a private, not-for-profit dance school for children, recently added four new studios to bring the facility’s total count to eight, with A/V integration firm Sound Concepts designing and installing new sound systems for all of the studios. At the center of the energy-efficient systems are Ashly Audio nXp8002 two-channel network amplifiers with built-in Protea digital signal processing.
“The Columbia Performing Arts Centre is always brimming with energy and activity, and high-quality sound reproduction is an important component in its success,” says Chris Howe, manager at Sound Concepts. “In addition to supplying the new studios with great, easy-to-operate sound systems, the center’s directors wanted us to harmonize functionality and quality in the existing studios as well. That way, instructors trained in one studio will be able to use any other studio without a hiccup.”
Howe completed the installation in stages, beginning with the new rooms and progressing to the existing rooms as class schedule logistics permitted. As requested, each studio is nearly identical. Each is outfitted with a Denon DM700C CD player as a primary music source. Howe used its digital output with the Ashly nXp’s optional digital input card. In addition, he gave each system a 1/8-inch iPod-style jack and connected it to the nXp’s analog input.
“If an instructor wants to use the CD player, they just use it and it works,” he says. “If they want to connect their digital music source from a player, phone, or computer, they just turn the Denon player off, and the nXp automatically fails over to the analog input. It’s really simple and removes a layer of equipment that we (and they) would have had to deal with.”
He used the nXp’s back-panel volume control option to wire a 10k potentiometer for a simple volume control. Depending on the room, the nXp powers either four 8-ohm Renkus-Heinz TRX182 or two 8-ohm Renkus-Heinz TRX151 loudspeakers. Each room gets the full benefit and liveliness of stereo sound.
And, all nX Series amplifiers can be programmed to trigger a defeatable sleep mode where the amp draws less than 1 watt of AC power
“There were a lot of good reasons to go with the Ashly nXp combined amplifiers/processors,” Howe notes. “Of course the built-in DSP is one of the first features that drew us to the nXp line, we needed smooth compression and limiting to protect the system as well as a good EQ to fine tune the speaker response to each space. The fail-over functionality was huge, as was the unit’s super low power consumption at idle. That kind of intelligent power management is great in a situation like this. The fact that they’re American made with a huge five-year warranty is excellent.
“And of course, he continues, “the sound quality and reliability is tremendous. When we got the first nXp8002 in, we A/B’d it with an amp from our rental stock in the adjacent room. That rental amp’s got a good name and a good reputation. Everything else about the two rooms was exactly alike—same size, same speakers, same everything. I assumed I wouldn’t be able to hear a difference, or if I did hear a difference, I’d have to strain to hear it. I was surprised that the Ashly nXp8002 was obviously better. It was the kind of difference you just hear, no straining needed.”