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Innovations: Ashly Audio’s New Installation Loudspeakers

Noel Larson of Ashly Audio explains how the company's new AW Series and IS Series loudspeaker lines for integrators came to pass.

Ashly Audio’s AW Series
Ashly Audio’s AW Series WalterColley.com

For more than 40 years, Ashly has developed and offered a wide range of reliable, easy-to-use software solutions, smart DSP-laden amplifiers, matrix processors, compact digital mixers and good old-school analog signal processors as practical, affordable solutions.

As you can imagine, our support engineers and integrators have done a lot of system design for a vast range of applications. We found that we continually had to work around the limitations of various speaker systems in the market to achieve what the end user needed.

While we’re not out to be a speaker company per se, we wanted to be able to offer complete solutions that best match all the benefits of an Ashly system. The more we got into speaker engineering, the more we realized the scope of benefits from a system that is designed to work together from end to end, fully accentuating what each part of the puzzle has to offer.

For example, our new AW Series on-wall speaker system is a family of weather-resistant (IP52/IP54 rated) install speakers. They’re great for anywhere that needs on-wall speakers with clear foreground speech or background music—areas we find a lot in restaurants, hotels and resorts.

We noticed that small, wall-mount-type speakers from most speaker companies are designed a lot like studio monitors, so they have a very, very tight sweet spot. They may sound great in that sweet spot, but you lose intelligibility as you move out of that position. The whole point of these speakers is to have patrons actually hear and understand announcements, but the small sweet spots of other systems are very limiting.

Ashly Audio Ships mXa-1502 Mixer Amp

Our AW Series speakers are designed to have a nice, super-wide sweet spot. Getting it took a lot of unique design work on the interior, as well as reformulating how the speaker is made, how the transformer works and how, just in general, the speaker works.

The AW speakers use Directivity Optimized Crossover, a new, proprietary approach to crossover design that significantly improves vertical axis response. More listeners on the extreme left and right can hear the spoken word better, and music in a restaurant or bar is more immersive and less directional. The AW Series avoids the “studio monitor” configuration that is less than optimal for longer-throw applications, and instead creates a wider sweet spot that is perfect for speech throughout the space.

This also ties back to the very effective synergy of how the system works within an overall Ashly DSP system, which makes it even more apparent that the sweet spot is very wide, and that you can do a lot more with it. With AW Series’ wide sweet spot, superior intelligibility and total DSP integration, an installation can now have significantly better coverage with significantly fewer speakers.

Along the same type of development thinking as with the AW Series, we had issues with the column speaker solutions that were available. An immediate issue that we kept running into was that everybody was using these bolt-on transformers for their column speakers. Basically, they are hard to work with and are unattractive. On top of that, if you have to transform the columns, you get this kind of “cone filter” where speech sounds very tinny and mid-tone saturated. It affects the overall tone of the speakers and reduces their functionality and effectiveness.

We came up with an innovative switch system that allows you to select between 8 or 32 ohms on each speaker. The selectable ohm setting resolves the sonic issues of a transformer and allows a single amplifier to drive a high number of columns.

Ashly Audio’s IS Series
Ashly Audio’s IS Series Walter Colley

We kept working with the idea, and with the IS System, installers can easily drive 32 speakers from a single, four-channel Ashly amplifier. What’s really impressive is that because the Ashly CA amplifier can run at a very stable 2 ohms, we can run 64 IS Series column speakers off a single amp. As a result, with just a couple of CA amps, we can run 128 column speakers at less than a 20-amp draw. Nobody can do remotely any of that sort of thing with their solution.

Then, on top of it, while IS Series speakers sound great right out of the box, when you add the Ashly DSP factor into the equation, you get a much wider dispersion, so everybody can hear the speakers with excellent intelligibility.

Advanced DSP voice presets for Ashly DSP-equipped amps provide processing that delivers optimal performance for a variety of venues by providing a flat frequency response across the listening area without the need for complicated and time-consuming manual adjustments. IS’s unique driver array offers horizontal and vertical dispersion and very consistent side-to-side coverage, with virtually no deviation in the critical vocal range, even in excess of 80 degrees off-axis.

Developing the AW Series and IS Series speaker systems was a massive effort for Ashly, but the result has been the development of a set of new products that substantially extend the Ashly DSP ecosystem. We’re just starting to ramp up the full market launch of both of these systems, and I invite everyone to give them a close look and an even closer listen—we’re very confident you will like what you find.

Noel Larson is the vice president of marketing and business development at Ashly Audio. His background combines start-ups, agency, and Fortune 500 environments as well as retail experience at a Top 40 ecommerce company.

Ashly Audio • www.ashly.com

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