PreSonus WorxAudio Loudspeakers a Revelation at St. Michael High School!

Nestled on 63 lush acres surrounded by protected wetlands, St. Michael the Archangel High School offers a traditional, comprehensive Catholic education to students in grades 9 through 12. The co-educational, college preparatory school started with one building and 130 students in 1984 and today comprises several buildings and a student body of more than 700. St. Michael’s music department, directed by Dr. Kevin Andry—widely known as “Doc”—recently moved into the school’s newest building. The new band room is spacious and well thought out but a very important feature was overlooked during the initial planning: AV.

After receiving an initial quote for an AV system from an electrical contractor that was both inadequate to the program’s needs and a budget buster, Doc reached out to his contacts in the area, who pointed him to Covington, Louisiana, systems integrator Chuck Breaux of Assurance AV Solutions. “Doc told me that the upperclassmen, in particular, needed to do critical listening so if he plays an orchestra recording from the 1950s, they can pick out the cello playing a solo. The sound system in the old band room was a Frankenstein home-stereo system of mismatched speakers that definitely wasn’t working. Doc wanted the best system he could afford.”

After examining the new space, Breaux designed an impressive professional sound system based on a pair of PreSonus WorxAudio W-8A full-range point-source loudspeakers and a WorxAudio X115S subwoofer, driven by QSC PDL4.3 power amplifier. “The band room is a beautiful space,” describes Breaux. “It has high ceilings and they already had functional acoustical treatment on the walls. Doc has an office, and on each side of the office he has windows to the band room, like a recording studio. They have two isolation rooms where the kids can rehearse. I wanted to give Doc a sound system that was going to blow him away and be reliable.”

Breaux does a lot of installs with PreSonus ULT loudspeakers but he thought WorxAudio loudspeakers would better meet Dr. Andry’s needs. “I wanted something that was going to blow Doc away and would be reliable,” he declares. “We had to go into a different category, a higher-line box that would be transparent and brutally honest, so whatever goes in is going to come out. I’ve never heard a WorxAudio loudspeaker that masked the sound or manipulated it. The two W-8As and the X115S were the best loudspeakers we could offer him and stay within his budget.”

Although Breaux considered powered speakers, that would have meant hiring an electrician to run power in the ceiling and installing a power sequencer to remote power the system up and down. “The PreSonus WorxAudio W-8As are passive, so we just had to pull analog cables, which kept the cost down, and we could use a local amplifier to make it easy to power it up and down,” he points out.

Breaux and Andry agreed that the W-8A loudspeakers and the X115S subwoofer should be permanently flown. “This way the speakers don’t take up floor space, nobody is going to try to take them out to the football field, and there’s less chance for the students to plug and unplug them,” Breaux observes. “But we decided to make the front end of the system portable, so I got them a Gator G-TOUR road console rack for the power amplifier.”

Also in the rack is a PreSonus StudioLive 16 Series III digital console mixer, which provides mixing, processing, and recording capabilities. “Doc is familiar with PreSonus Studio One 4 Professional recording software and wanted to be able to record the band,” Breaux relates. “He also wanted to record rehearsal so that if somebody wanted to rehearse a part, they could go into one of the two isolation rooms and practice with the recording.”

The StudioLive 16 is currently doing light duty work while Doc learns the technology. Breaux assigned one of his team who uses PreSonus mixers to set up mixer presets for recording and playback and help set up Studio One Professional on Dr. Andry’s laptop. The laptop networks with the mixer using AVB Ethernet, and the mixer sends analog audio to the power amp and speakers.

Most recording is done with a pair of ceiling-mounted condenser mics and a dynamic mic for a vocalist. “The jazz ensemble has lead singers, so they are not only using the PreSonus WorxAudio system for critical listening and recording but to hear the vocals during rehearsals,” notes Breaux. Breaux also set the school up with two large-diaphragm condenser mics for mobile use where needed. Andry uses a lot of video, so two mixer channels accommodate video soundtracks streaming from his laptop.

The new PreSonus sound system now is in full use, reports Breaux. “Doc loves the system. He is slowly learning to use the digital mixer, and he is extremely happy with how the project turned out. He’s thoroughly impressed with how good the WorxAudio system sounds; he is hearing things he never heard before. Compared to his old system, he went from a Pinto to a Ferrari.”

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