The Racine County Courthouse in southeast Wisconsin was built in the 1930s and, at eleven stories, remains the tallest building in the county. The bold, Art Deco style of Chicago architects John Holabird and John Root earned it a place in the National Register of Historic Places in 1980, and it continues to actively serve as the seat of justice for Racine County. The professionals at local A/V integration firm Sound Specialty Company have been working their way through the Racine County Courthouse’s twelve courtrooms. In each, they have installed an Ashly ne8250 eight-channel 250W network amplifier to provide clean and reliable audio reinforcement. The most recent Ashly ne8250 to go in includes an optional Dante™ networking card to allow easy setup for court recordings.


“We’ve been working with the county for a long time, but it has only been in the last three years that we’ve undertaken work on the Racine County Courthouse courtrooms,” explained Jeff Saunders, design engineer at Sound Specialty Company. “The technology in the courtrooms was at least twenty years old, and it was high time for an upgrade. We’re currently on the seventh courtroom, and the recipe for each one has been similar. The goal is to give them a powerful, reliable system that’s easy to control and that will retain its performance long into the future.”


Each courtroom includes a microphone each for the judge and the witness and two microphones each for the defence and prosecutor’s tables. In addition, a custom input panel allows a microphone to be used for speech on the courtroom floor, such as for opening or closing arguments. The court reporter controls a QSC Q-SYS Core 110f via a programmable touchscreen, which in turn feeds an Ashly network eight-channel ne8250 power amplifier, delivering 250W per channel (one per courtroom). At least three of its ne8250’s eight channels are used in each courtroom: one for a judge loudspeaker, one for a jury loudspeaker. In addition, several courtrooms had an additional loudspeaker for the gallery. Another courtroom included speakers for the defence and the prosecution teams. Loudspeakers are a mix of Martin and QSC. Whereas the newer courtrooms have standard 10-foot ceilings that permitted the use of in-ceiling speakers for the gallery and jury, the older courtrooms have 25-foot ceilings. Saunders used two ne8250 amplifier channels in the older courtrooms in order to power separate wall mounted speakers in two gallery zones. SurgeX power conditioning and Williams hearing assist system round things out.


The remaining unused channels on each Ashly ne8250 are reserved for possible future expansion, including individual loudspeakers for the defence and prosecution teams, and the witness. The latest courtroom now has an Ashly ne8250 with optional Dante networking so that the court can make recordings when short on court reporters. “Everyone wants to make sure the courts are well-positioned for the future,” Saunders said. “We’ve built the systems to grow as needed. We put an Ashly amplifier into each courtroom because no one can touch Ashly’s value and quality. And Ashly’s reliability is legendary; we’ve never had one fail! And if one did fail, Ashly’s five-year warranty and excellent customer service would take care of it.”