Alexandria, VA | April, 2010 – T. C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Va., which found Hollywood fame in the 2000 Disney blockbuster Remember the Titans, presented an unusual challenge to the designers of its new sound system – plenty of space for the new loudspeakers but very little time to fit them.
Sure, it wasn’t quite as tough as the struggle faced by Denzel Washington’s football coach character in the movie, set in 1971, who builds a team for the freshly integrated Alexandria Virginia high school, overcomes inter-racial tensions and the loss of one of its stars, goes on to win the state championship and becomes national runner-up. But it seems every job has a few unique wrinkles, and this one was no exception.
The real school recently moved into a new building designed as the flagship of Alexandria City Public Schools. The facility includes an 880-seat auditorium with a proscenium stage up front and two lecture halls in the rear. To provide sound reinforcement for both school meetings and cultural events like theatrical productions and concerts, Alexandria City Public Schools Director of Construction Mark Burke called the district’s long-time provider Corbett Technology Solutions, Inc. (CTSI).
How much of a problem could one little auditorium be for CTSI (a firm that handles AV, IT, multimedia and networking solutions for the complete spectrum of corporate and government customers)? “On this project, the school district needed a 30 day turnaround from contact to completion,” CTSI Senior Vice President Gino Ruta explains. “It was pretty clear there had been very little planning for audiovisual systems, as indicated by the minimal amount of conduit available.” There was, however an existing opening in the ceiling.
CTSI’s search for systems that could provide full coverage of the room from that location quickly centered on Renkus-Heinz’s Reference Point Array (RPA) range of pre-configured arrays. Their designers specified an ST9/4-3(T), a self-powered RPA of three ST9/44 full-range loudspeakers with integral PM-3 tri-amplifiers and System Specific Processing. The RPA package also includes matching hanging hardware and all interconnecting cables. Two extra STX2M CoEntrant Midrange modules were added as downfill.
“Because the cluster is self powered,” Ruta says, “we could pull a single audio input line from the booth, minimizing the amount of conduit and time required.” Along with speed and simplicity, quality and reliable delivery were key criteria in this purchase decision. The entire system was built, prepped and tested at the Foothill Ranch, California factory, and air freighted overnight to meet the extremely tight project schedule.
A Biamp AudiaFlex is CTSI’s main front end for the system. CTSI’s programming and custom control panel offer a choice of three main modes of operation. Simple Automix mode is for use with voice-only presentations using up to eight microphones. Simple Manual Mixer mode allows manual level control over eight mics, intended for musical performances and similar events. Auxiliary Mixer mode comes into play when the school needs to pull out a Roland Digital Snake and a full analog FOH console with effects and dynamics equipment for plays, musicals or other events require a full audio production with lots of input channels on stage.
“We were looking for the perfect balance between simple audio control for the administrators and the advanced processing of a full audio system for the technical operators,” says Ruta.
It looks like CTSI found that perfect balance. “The client was very pleased with the system, and especially the sound quality of the ST9/4-3 RPA, which was well beyond what they expected.”
Based in Chantilly, VA, CTSI serves healthcare, educational, government, houses of worship and corporate customers with customized, integrated technology solutions including healthcare- and education-specific communication, audiovisual, fire detection, security, professional sound and multimedia, voice and voice/data internetworking systems, as well as certified premise wiring.