St. Francis High School’s gymnasium in St. Francis, Kansas handles district-wide sports tournaments, town meetings, and local entertainment events along with its own student activities.
Its new sound system — installed last October by Colorado and Kansas-based DK Audio Video (DKAV) — now includes Powersoft amplifiers at its foundation.
When the school reached out to DKAV about its sound needs during the fall of last year, they were clear about what they hoped to achieve, according to DKAV owner Lucas Lafferty,
“They wanted a full sound system upgrade and they told us to ‘dream big’,” he recalls. “I immediately thought of Powersoft amplification because I thought it would have the ideal combination of features: clear sound, easy-to-use operation, and strong built-in DSP processing.” Lafferty put together a package that included one Powersoft X4 amplifier, which was used to drive two EAW QX326 two-way loudspeakers and two EAW SB250z subwoofers. The school was immediately on board with the plan. “After I told them about the incredibly low power consumption of Powersoft amplifiers, it was the icing on the cake.”
DKAV worked with C.J. Lewis in the Denver branch of The Marshank Group, which helped secure the Powersoft and EAW elements required for the installation.
“We were so pleased to see a local school system consider this a ‘long-term investment’ rather than a temporary solution to an immediate need,” Lewis recalls. “By choosing a high-end audio solution that was powerful, nimble and reliable, DKAV was able to introduce another dimension of value into the transaction — one that will benefit the St. Francis community for years to come.”
During the design and installation phase, the gymnasium presented significant challenges with its 40-foot domed ceiling and solid brick walls.
“The room had many uncooperative reflective surfaces,” Lafferty says. “They had tried using sound dampening in the past without much success, so we decided to avoid transmitting any sound towards the dome areas.” The speakers were suspended from the ceiling in two pairs, about 20′ high on the north end of the gymnasium. With dispersion pattern of approximately 120˚ x 60˚, the sound covered the entirety of the gymnasium, while avoiding excessive bounceback. “We wanted the audio to reach the entire audience as far as we could, but we were careful to aim the speakers at ear level as much as possible.”
Lafferty, who had known about Powersoft amplifiers but didn’t have any first hand installation experience with Powersoft prior to this installation, also managed to get his first hands-on experience with Powersoft’s powerful DSP software as the system testing and room-tuning phases of the installation ensued. “Armonía was super-easy to use,” he says. “When I had questions, I called Powersoft directly and they answered all of them quickly and easily.” After implementing a simple crossover and some equalization for tuning, he also used Armonía to place a hard limiter on the output to avoid any mishaps with overly curious students. “The speakers we chose have a very high output range and could go well above any conceivable use for that space, so we put a dead stop in place,” Lafferty explains.
The two Powersoft amps were situated in a ‘restricted access’ upstairs room, along with a Juice Goose remote power sequencer. “Before Armonía we would have needed separate, standalone EQs and compressors, but now everything is completely self-contained and so easy to hide away,” Lafferty says. The mixing board, housed in a portable case, can plug into any one of 3 separate tie-in locations on the floor of the gymnasium depending on the floorplan of a given event. Also, the system can be powered on from the board remotely via turnkey.
When Lafferty and his team first powered up the system, the results were astonishing.
“Shortly after we fired it up the principal put a stop to all classes and told everybody to come down to the gym and take a listen — it was that cool.” Lafferty recalls. Nearly 300 additional visitors eventually made their way to the gymnasium over the course of the day to experience the new system for themselves. “We had people from the local town coming by saying, ‘we heard there’s an awesome new sound system and we want to hear it’.”
To Lafferty’s own ears, the value of Powersoft is abundantly clear: “The sound is incredibly detailed, and the simplicity of the system is second to none. My main goal was to attain a system that was simple for my client to use, and with Powersoft and Armonía, we achieved all that and so much more.”
Since the completion of the install in late October, the gymnasium has hosted concerts, weddings, town meetings and various athletic events, imbuing a true impact on the broader community. “They can do anything in that space now — it’s only limited to their imagination,” Lafferty concludes.