An Audio Club Experience from Jackson Hole AV
by Tibby Plasse
When infrastructure intersects with indulgence, innovation occurs—and Jackson Hole AV is quite literally the wires behind such invention.
“With a team of nine sound specialists, there is absolutely no corner of the room not covered. The experience of sound and light with live performance spaces requires very particular engineering. Sound is not a flat sensory experience. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Sound should be a multidimensional immersion into the medium. Rich Ashburn knows exactly how to plan and execute a transcendent audio-visual experience, no matter the space or the event.
The features in “The Party Barn,” are nearly limitless.
In the case of an estate located just outside the town of Jackson, the program list for a converted entertainment barn included every activity imaginable, and it’s nearly all controlled by a swipe to the left or right with the Savant platform.
The features in “The Party Barn,” as Ashburn refers it, are nearly limitless. An old Ford Motor Company barn was purchased out-of-state and moved to Wyoming. Its adaptation into an entertainment lodge includes a rock and maple amphitheater, a roller-skating rink, a stage, a dance floor, and an overnight lounge. The sound system takes all of this into account and utilizes every design line that the architects engineered to create perfect syncopation between guest, bass, harmony, and the host.
“We use CAD for our designs, and it enables us to be fully integrated with the design-build process,” says Ashburn. In the case of the barn, that was critical. “Some of those speakers weighed up to 500 pounds and required a professional-grade rigging set-up,” he adds.
“This type of sound quality is immersive surround sound. Think of the best club you have ever danced in. I would say the closest sound system of this caliber is in Las Vegas.”
–Rich Ashburn, Jackson Hole AV
The building’s design dictated how the Bose speaker system, controlled with Dante, was developed. There are six dedicated 20A circuits. The 20-amp dedicated circuits power the multiple amplifiers and the AV systems.
Whether someone is lapping on their skates, hosting a film screening, playing DJ sets, or performing a full stage operation, there are multiple entertainment zones to control the sound and how the speakers suit the activity for that space. For such a multidimensional space, the control over the sound and light makes each zone autonomous or unified, depending on the event.
“This type of sound quality is immersive surround sound. Think of the best club you have ever danced in. I would say the closest sound system of this caliber is in Las Vegas,” says Ashburn.
The system is equipped with Dante. Dante is an advanced DJ system but it’s as simple as plugging in a network cable, giving whoever is the beat master access to 64 inputs and outputs. The stage is also equipped with inputs and outputs for audio, video, and XLR. Convenience and effectivity were the pillars of design for both the performance space and the audience.
For staged events, audiences enjoy an amphitheater in the converted barn building. The building is 30 feet tall, constructed with rock and maple inlay, and can sit 12 to 15 people comfortably. An elevated lounge acts as a lobby and doubles for overnights and overflow. The south-facing steps face a drop-down projection screen. The screen measures out at 21 feet wide and is accompanied by designated cinema speakers. Directly behind where the screen drops are the dance floor and stage and there’s also a roller-skating rink encircling the main floor and a kitchen hidden under the amphitheater.
For a project so site-specific, collaboration was critical for JHAV to ensure that their client would have a sound system that fulfilled the original vision for the space and how it could be utilized. “There was a lot of collaboration with the architect and contractor,” says Ashburn. “Once it was operational, we had a couple of training sessions with the client. Our first meeting was designed to not overwhelm the client but to have her understand the basics. The following meeting was going over the advanced features.” The advanced features included troubleshooting the system in case of a network outage. “Everything else is remotely monitored and maintained. We will do a couple of site visits per year to make sure the system is functioning as designed,” Ashburn explains.
Sound is a design element in The Party Barn and not just an amenity. Sources for sound are found everywhere. The Bose speakers that Ashburn selected for the job have unmatched performance when it comes to direct sound projection, and perhaps it’s because Ashburn concentrates on how sound acts and tries to predict how it will circulate. JHAV uses the Bose Modeler software to map out the performance space and performance of the system.
The most fundamental goal in a good sound system is ensuring an even, direct field of sound intensity over the entire audience area. A direct field means that the listener has a pure access point for what’s coming through the speaker without any interruption of other room reflections.
JHAV utilized ray tracing predictions and created infrared maps of how the sound would interact for a given listener as well as what the architecture demanded of the sound on a particular coordinate of the building—where a speaker could go and where one was needed. They settled on 24 first-level speakers with a total of 37 speakers, all with very specific sound fields. .
“The goal was to produce a party atmosphere. The dance floor needed to have adequate sound pressure for dancing, so we used ArenaMatch speakers. The inputs are there for musicians, DJs, even a karaoke set-up. For the upstairs lounge we needed to consider the size of the speakers given the ceilings, and so too with the bathrooms and outdoor areas. No corner of the barn is left out of the venue plan,” describes Ashburn.
Ashburn’s team is made up of nine in-house specialists: a programmer, master electrician, journeyman electrician CAD designer, network technician, AV technicians, and the office design and management team. Their work is a seamless extension of the building site design and planning.
The design of The Party Barn pays homage to the Old Faithful Inn with its ambiance but the operating system behind this seemingly campy venue is anything but vintage. It doesn’t matter the style of entertainment; any evening is sure to be a full immersion into The Party Barn vibe.
“The goal was to produce a party atmosphere. The dance floor needed to have adequate sound pressure for dancing, so we used ArenaMatch speakers. The inputs are there for musicians, DJs, even a karaoke set-up. For the upstairs lounge we needed to consider the size of the speakers given the ceilings, and so too with the bathrooms and outdoor areas. No corner of the barn is left out of the venue plan,”
–Rich Ashburn, Jackson Hole AV