If it isn’t already, The Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York should be on the bucket list of everyone who is a child at heart. The Strong houses the world’s largest and most complete collection of toys, both contemporary and historical, and is home to the Centre for the History of Electronic Games, the World Video Game Hall of Fame, the Brian Sutton-Smith Library & Archives of Play, the American Journal of Play, and, as of this year, the National Toy Hall of Fame. With the addition of the National Toy Hall of Fame, The Strong undertook a major renovation of its sound reinforcement and lighting systems. Where it was previously piecemeal, The Strong’s sound system is now united and uses Ashly Audio processing, amplification, and user control, including a hardwired fader bank and a wireless Ashly Remote iPad app.
“Previously, The Strong used local sound generated by individual kiosks, and it had no specific lighting for any of the live performance spaces,” explained Jeff Stid, the service & installations manager at Applied Audio & Theatre Supply. Applied Audio, which is also in Rochester, designed and installed The Strong’s new audio and lighting systems.
By using Ashly Audio’s flexible signal processing software and customizable preset recalls, Stid and his team turned one of the project’s biggest challenges into one of its greatest assets. Because the two stages are so close to each other and because the main purpose of using a distributed system is to keep overall SPLs as low as possible, multiple loudspeakers would have to serve multiple functions. For example, one bank of loudspeakers serves as the delay for the bigger stage while also being the stage-right mains for the smaller “scoop” stage (so named because it is scooped out around the stairs leading to the second floor).
In addition to the Ashly ne24.24M (the modular I/O count of which is configured for twelve inputs and eight outputs), the system uses one Ashly KLR-3200 two-channel 800W 70V amp, one Ashly SRA-2150 two-channel 150W amp, and one TRA-4150 four-channel 150W selectable output amp, for a total of eight amplifier channels. A Denon multimedia playback device pairs with four Shure wireless microphone systems and a collection of hardwired jacks as inputs to the system, and a Denon recorder joins the amps on the output side. The whole head end resides in a rack built by The Strong’s in-house carpentry team. QSC Acoustic Design Series ceiling- and wall-mount loudspeakers finish the sound reinforcement system and are joined by new ETC Source Four LED lights, custom finished to white to match the venue.
The Strong already had a Nicolaudie STICK lighting control to use with the new lighting system, but Applied Audio selected and customized the audio interfaces. An Ashly FR-16 sixteen-channel network remote fader bank, located at the rack, provides intuitive control over input and zone volumes and mutes. In addition, Applied Audio customized the Ashly Remote iPad App so that staff can walk the venue and make pre-set, volume, and source changes.