Ashly Audio delivers intelligible paging at huge distribution facility

Tractor Supply Company is one of the leading retailers of livestock and pet supplies, hardware, tools, and truck supplies, and home improvement and outdoor clothing. In addition to a brisk online business, TSC operates close to 1,500 stores throughout the United States and Canada – and that number is growing. To efficiently move products in the Southwest, TSC opened a new 800,000 square-foot distribution facility near Phoenix, Arizona. The company, which is headquartered near Nashville, Tennessee, hired Southeastern Sound, also from Nashville, to design and install a high-intelligibility paging system. Southeastern Sound obliged, using an Ashly Audio 3.6SP Protea™ digital signal processor to deliver the requisite intelligibility, as they had previously in two of TSC’s other large distribution facilities.

“The acoustical conditions in a large distribution facility like this are obviously not conducive to intelligibility,” said Brian Cook, senior audio designer at Southeastern Sound. “And yet intelligibility is key. If we can’t deliver intelligible pages, then there’s no point in putting in a paging system at all. Moreover, the inputs to the paging system can vary widely. One can imagine everything from a high, soft female voice to a low, loud male voice, and everything in-between. The paging system has to take that large dynamic range of input qualities and produce uniformly smooth, intelligible output regardless.”

He continued, “We’ve come to rely on Ashly’s Protea processing to manage situations like this. We use the Ashly 3.6SP to custom-equalize all of the loudspeakers to maximize intelligibility, and we use input compression, equalization, and filtering to make the range of possible input volumes and tonalities emerge on the other side with equal intelligibility. We’ve had fantastic experience with Ashly’s reliability – in fact, not one of their processors has failed on us in years of use! That’s especially important in a situation like this, where we’re installing a system halfway across the country. Finally, Ashly’s customer service is legendary. I can always get timely help when it’s needed. Tractor Supply Company has implicitly endorsed the work we’ve done and, by extension, Ashly processing because this is the third distribution facility they’ve asked us to work on.”

The paging system taps into the phone system so that pages can be delivered from all around the facility. The Ashly 3.6SP provides all of the processing and outputs to QSC amplifiers, which power Atlas APX 40 TN loudspeakers in the warehouse section and Atlas FAP 42 T loudspeakers in the office section. Those two sections are on different zones so that Cook could customize the Ashly processing to optimize both the different loudspeakers themselves and the different acoustical conditions they are in.

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