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Case study – Ashly is Ohio player at The Gathering

Andrew Brister 8 August 2012

How to keep a 1900-industrial design motif and combine it with a 21st century sound system? TFA investigates the solution at The Gathering, Ohio. The Gathering is an upscale restaurant in the mid-sized US city of Findlay, Ohio. With a history stretching back several decades, The Gathering resides in an elegant 1890s-era building and is tastefully furnished and decorated to maintain turn-of-the-century charm.  When a new owner recently took over, he decided to convert the previously unused third storey into a bar. He committed the new bar to a “1900-industrial” motif that had to be adhered to in every respect. Regional designer and installer House of Hindenach A/V Systems obliged the aesthetic requirements and still delivered amazing, dimensional ambiance with the help of an Ashly ne24.24M processor and a horizontal array of custom-designed dipole open-baffle loudspeakers. After the new owner took over The Gathering, House of Hindenach designed and installed a comparatively straightforward sound system for the downstairs restaurant area. The owner was so impressed that he called on company principal Don Hindenach to take on the more challenging project upstairs. “The new owner had two requirements for the upstairs sound system,” said Hindenach. “First, he really wanted the 1900s industrial motif down to the last detail. Since loudspeakers weren’t around back then, the requirement translated to this: nothing that a contemporary patron would be able to identify as a ‘loudspeaker’ could be visible. In other words, the loudspeakers had to be in plain sight, but they couldn’t look like loudspeakers. His only concession was that he would allow subwoofer boxes, provided they were sufficiently hidden away. The second requirement was that the typical patron would be amazed at the sound!”@page_break@Hindenach’s solution was to build dipole open-baffle loudspeakers, a solution that would ideally meet both requirements. The design is like a typical loudspeaker except that there is no enclosure. As a result, the positive and negative waves generated by the driver cancel in the plane of the baffle. While that’s a great scientific explanation, making it sound great is a combination of art and science. Hindenach reviewed Siegfried Linkwitz’ white papers on the subject and devised a plan for The Gathering. “You can’t build an effective, high-impact dipole using passive processes,” he said. “The filters are just too steep. So, it became clear that the Ashly ne24.24M DSP was going to be central to the design.” He continued: “Linkwitz’ papers provided me with starting points for where to put the curves, what sorts of knees to give them, and so on. I’ve used the Ashly ne24.24M in the past, and I like its inherent stability.” In addition to providing the processing to make the dipole system work with maximum impact (which included implementation of Linkwitz-Riley filters), the Ashly ne24.24M also provided more garden-variety input conditioning and room tuning. The final system consists of three pairs of full-range dipole horizontal line-arrays supported by dipole and monopole tweeters at the high end and two dual-15 custom-built subwoofer enclosures at the bottom end. The AuraSound full-range drivers are three inches in diameter with ten millimeters of linear voice coil travel fitted four to a baffle. The baffles are metal (for the aesthetic, not the acoustics) damped by a compound produced by C.P. Moyen (Chicago, Illinois).@page_break@
The drivers are affixed to beams nine-and-a-half feet high and arranged across the room in an alternating left-right-left-right pattern so that stereo arrives at every seat. “The system has a very interesting sound,” said Hindenach. “You can be staring straight at one of the baffles and it’s impossible to localize it, which made it challenging to verify our wiring, but magically enveloping in the space. The net result is that every seat in the bar feels like the quiet seat. Now patrons can easily carry on a conversation despite the fact that the sound system is cranking.” Unfortunately, Hindenach is deathly allergic to shellfish, a foodstuff that the downstairs restaurant regularly serves. Thus, he used the Ashly ne24.24M’s out-of-the-box network integration to make sound system changes from afar, while his crew made physical adjustments and measurements in the room. “So now I’ve created a fabulous system, the permanent incarnation of which I may never hear” said Hindenach. “But at least Ashly has made it easy for me to work around this handicap. 
 “Everyone that has listened to it is raving, and we even had one comment that perfectly filled the owner’s second requirement. His cook came up while we were tuning the system, and one of my crew members eased the volume up when he walked through the door. Engulfed in sound, he walked over to the owner and said the exact words that the owner had wanted to hear: AWESOME!” 

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