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Cornell’s Sage Chapel Turns 7 Feet of Amplification into 7 Inches With Ashly Audio

Ashly Audio products condense the processing and amplification system at Cornell University’s Sage Chapel.

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Cornell University’s Sage Chapel has been through many technological upgrades since its opening in 1875.

For the chapel’s latest upgrade, Ashly Audio powered processors were used to condense seven feet of rack space into just seven inches. Two units, the Ashly Pema 8250 and Ashly ne4250pe, combines Ashly’s Protea signal processing with 12 clean, high-powered amplifier channels.

This is a big change from Sage Chapel’s previous 1990s-era processing and amplification. The new system provides for any musical instrument reinforcement needed, apart from two organs in the very back of the church.

The chapel, which is distinctly non-denominational and beautifully decorated with symbols of many world religions, seats over 700 people not including a large choir space. And the choir needs sound reinforcement to prevent the chapel songs from being muffled or incoherent in the large space.

“We put the previous system in over twenty years ago to deal with issues of intelligibility that were plaguing them at the time,” said Barny Cole, president of Calf Audio, who chose and installed the Ashly products. “We put in three sets of loudspeakers arrayed in stereo pairs on delays running from the front of the chapel to the back. It delivered great sound quality, but it took a ton of processing to dial in. In those days, that meant a lot of separate rack units to individually equalize and time align each component. That system took seven feet of rack space! The university approached us recently to ask if we could condense all that processing because the closet was coveted by the janitorial staff. Of course, they didn’t want to lean their mops against a bunch of electrical equipment, so if we could condense it down and raise it up, everyone would be happy.”

The Ashly Pema 8250 includes line-level outputs from the processing section and can auto-mix all of the usual inputs. Its front-end processing capabilities allow the 8250 to carry out all of the everyday mixing and processing.

Together, the Pema 8250 and ne4250pe provide twelve 250-Watt amplifier channels. An Ashly neWR-5 wall panel remote control provides simple selection of several presets for common events at the Sage Chapel. Calf Audio is often called in to provide sound engineer support for more complicated events.