SEDONA, ARIZONA – APRIL 2012: Words hardly do justice to Enchantment Resort in Sedona, Arizona. The upscale retreat is tastefully nestled within a red rock canyon in a way that makes the views from the pools, rooms, restaurants, lounges, and spa breathtakingly open and serene. It is a rare amalgam of backcountry camping’s beauty and modern hospitality’s comforts in which neither aspect is compromised.
Enchantment Resort began an eight-million dollar renovation to its main building, the Clubhouse, this past November. This building houses the resorts front desk, restaurants, bar, specialty wine bar, pool and pool bar, and an activity center. The Clubhouse renovation was completed and reopened just in time for their peak spring break season, which typically brings 100% occupancy. With an entire makeover of all restaurants, bars, public areas, front desk, retail shopping, and a new pool almost three times the size of the original pool, Enchantment’s aging sound system was slated for a total replacement. IT Director Bob Gassick sought out the modular Ashly ne24.24M processor and paired Ashly NE-Series amplifiers to deliver a flexible, modern system with reliability and fidelity worthy of Enchantment Resort’s understated poise.
“The old system had four inputs, and we were looking to expand that to six inputs with the new system,” explained Gassick. “It seems like a straightforward thing, but finding a cost-effective, six-input processor that would be simple for our staff to operate wasn’t such an easy task. After a few days of searching, I was glad to discover the Ashly ne24.24M, which – together with the Ashly neWR-5 wall panel remote – was our ideal solution.” The input/output count of the Ashly ne24.24M is modular, and base units start at 4-in/4-out with easy-to-install hardware expansion available up to a maximum of 24 input/output combinations. Enchantment Resort’s ne24.24M supplies an intermediate 8-in/12-out.
There are no pages at Enchantment Resort. In fact, apart from a balanced line input for live performances and auxiliary input for iPod, line input, or CD, there is no voice reinforcement at all. Instead, Gassick designed the system primarily for music playback using two MC500 players from Play Network each having two dynamic programmable content channels. Each channel is a well “listened out” evaluated mix of five different channels (genres) from over seventy available genres. “Each of the channels from the MC500s is a dynamic mix of genres customized to the character and demographics of our resort and our restaurants,” Gassick further explains. “The four music sources available on each of our WR-5 controllers are: Lobby, Fine Dining, Tii Gavo (our Jazzy casual dining), and Pool (upbeat, contemporary, and a touch of World Beats). The last two inputs are: Custom which is a Tascam CD-200i, and Live.”
The idea was that ten different zones within the resort would be able to play any of the input material independently, a substantial improvement over the old system. The output from the Ashly ne24.24M feeds Ashly ne8250.70 and Ashly ne4250.70 amplifiers, which together deliver twelve channels at 250 Watts per channel into the 70-volt system. The Enchantment Resort purchased all of the Ashly equipment from Don Nelson at Valhalla Sound in Scottsdale, Arizona. Nelson also consulted on the system design and programmed the ne24.24M.
Per demand of the renovation’s lead interior designer, all of the loudspeaker grills had to be square not round. Again, Gassick searched for a cost-effective, high-performance solution. He found Outdoor Speaker Depot (OSD) and after purchasing the first pair of demo speakers, CW-840SQ, he fell in love. OSD offers a 30-day trial and ten-year warranty and huge orders magically appear two days after ordering. The final design ended with 85 speakers installed. The majority of them were the CW-840SQ but several omnidirectional landscaping speakers, bracket speakers, and rock speakers were used. All the speakers installed were purchased from OSD. Gassick did use one of the old outdoor bracket speakers from the old system just for a touch of sentimentality and good luck. The CW-840SQ speakers are 8 ohm out of the box. OSD makes an outdoor 70-volt transformer that Gassick refers to as a “flawless design – a real gem,” that was used on all the indoor speakers and outdoors as needed.
Gassick was faced with one final challenge. The Clubhouse ceilings were an array of materials and colors. Obviously, white grills would affect the design concepts and ambiance that was so well thought out and planned. Gassick said, “Serendipity really came to the rescue. My wife and I are friends with a local artist who used to do work for Disney. In fact he worked on the Lion King,” said Gassick. “We called on him for this project. He airbrushed the loudspeaker grills not just to “faux” them but made them disappear. He did a fabulous job; you have to really know what you’re looking for to find them. He even matched a cork ceiling over the wine bar!” Gassick added, “The proof of his craftsmanship is that the interior designer or the architect never mentioned a word about the finished speakers. Maybe they didn’t even know they were there?”
Simple user control was an essential requirement of the renovated system. To make that a reality, Gassick installed ten Ashly neWR-5 wall-mounted remote controls, one for each zone. Nelson helped program the neWR-5s such that each of the six push buttons selects a different Play Network customized channel mix as stated above. The up/down buttons change the volume. Installation was also simple because the neWR-5 receives its power over Ethernet. “The neWR-5s look great and are ultimate simplicity for the staff to use,” said Gassick. “They just select a source and adjust the volume.”
Nelson traveled to Sedona and tuned the system, which consisted primarily of judiciously increasing the bass and other minor tweaks. Once the sound system was fully installed, Gassick did everything he could think of to “kill it” so that he would be sure it could withstand the daily rigors of the hospitality and restaurant industry without fail. The most demanding test came in the form of dance music he played (before the renovation was complete) pushed way past any sensible volume. “It was tremendously loud and the amps were wisely clipping and shutting down,” he said. “But after it was all said and done, the amps came back on and performed perfectly. Like nothing had happened. All the OSD speakers weren’t bothered at all by the ruthless “acid” test.”
The new clubhouse reopened the third week in March. A balanced XLR line was run from an indoor/outdoor terrace area to the Ashly equipment to accommodate live performances. Nelson terminated and adjusted levels on the “Live” line and the following week a favorite performer at the resort gave his first live guitar performance. Gassick describes this magical moment, “When Fitzhugh Jenkins arrived and was setup with a small mixer we plugged in to our XLR jack on the terrace and pressed the “Live” button on the WR-5s in all the restaurant areas. It just sounded beautiful! I left that night with Fitz playing and smiling. He called me the next day to tell me that an east coast couple had listened to his performance while eating in our fine dining area. After they ate they searched him out and sat near where he was seating and stayed for half an hour just listening. The gentleman told him it was the best sounding guitar he had ever heard anywhere. The only way to describe that is magical!”
Gassick sums it up, “The whole project has been a huge labor of love. I’ve been at the resort for over fourteen years so whatever I do I want to be the best possible decision. Between the versatility and value of the Ashly products and Don Nelson as my local support source I know I’ve made the best possible decision. I’m sure that for years to come many more people will come in at a live performance and sit outside under the magical Sedona night sky with our signature Prickly Pear Margarita and after ten minutes will say, “Wow, this is the best live performance I’ve ever heard!”
ABOUT ASHLY AUDIO
Ashly Audio Inc. is recognized as a world leader in the design and manufacturing of high quality & high performance signal processing equipment and power amplification for use in the commercial sound contracting and professional audio markets. The 37-year old company is headquartered in Webster, New York U.S.A.