Atlanta school overcomes sound barriers in assembly hall

Established in 1926 in midtown Atlanta by forward-thinking educator Ms. Eva Edwards Lovett, the Lovett School continues a tradition of excellence today, with over 99% of its students going on to attend four-year colleges. The private school has some 1,400 students in kindergarten through twelfth grade.

A recent "75th Anniversary Campaign" raised over $55 million to expand facilities, most notably for the addition of a new middle school. The centerpiece of the middle school project is a 500-seat multipurpose room, serving as an assembly space for the middle school student body and as an indoor recreation facility. Because of the flexible nature of the room and the varied construction materials, acoustics were a special problem.

Lovett hired the local engineering firm Newcomb & Boyd to design an audiovisual system for the multipurpose space. Josef H. Henschen, Lovett alumnus and audiovisual engineer in the Special Technologies Group at Newcomb & Boyd, led the effort. "The multipurpose room is a pretty decent compromise between a gym and a performance space," said Henschen. "But still, we were presented with an acoustical challenge."

Henscehn explained that the many different materials used - hardwood floor; concrete block, ceramic brick and acoustical block walls; perforated panel ceiling - meant that the space would tend to sound more like a gym than a theater. Improving that sound was the audiogoal.

"I had read a lot about Danley's history in the trade magazines and knew they had a reputation for designing uniquely functional loudspeakers," said Henschen. "In addition to the desire to
support a local Georgia business, I was curious to hear these Danley boxes in action for myself."

The core of the new audiovisual system is formed by Danley loudspeakers and subwoofers, with two flown Danley SH-50s providing the bulk of the main coverage. Additional sound is provided by a pair of SH-95s and a TH-50 subwoofer.

Feeding the speakers are ten wired mic inputs and two wireless mics. The video side of the system includes three laptop inputs, a multimedia lectern with a document camera, and a Blu-Ray player. A Digital Projections 10,000 lumens projector displays onto a 240-inch screen.

With the school year just underway, everyone is pleased with the new middle school and its central multipurpose room. "I am impressed by how even the coverage is, despite the challenging acoustical environment," said Henschen. "It's not the sort of thing I'm used to hearing in a system like this. The entire audio spectrum is incredibly smooth across the space."