HOUSTON, TEXAS – SEPTEMBER 2012: Leon Cortese is the owner of Dynasty Sound, a Houston, Texas-based company that specializes in providing sound masking solutions for buildings and offices both large and small. Cortese himself has been in the business for over forty years. Now his children and grandchildren work for Dynasty Sound, giving the company’s name a very literal spin. In recent years, Cortese has designed his masking systems using Ashly multi-channel amplification, often with integrated processing, citing its cost-effective pricing, bulletproof reliability, and flexible functionality, not to mention the affable Ashly staff.
“There are a few exceptions, but basically all we do is masking,” said Cortese. “Some people say that’s boring, but not to me. Every time someone says they need a masking system – which is common and becoming more common – my cash register rings!” Cortese has installed literally thousands of masking systems, and today, Dynasty Sound installs between 10,000 and 15,000 loudspeakers a year.
“In the old days, everybody had an office, which made masking much less critical than it is today,” explained Cortese. “Today, companies put people in cubicles, and all of their conversations float throughout that space. Masking serves two purposes. First, it alleviates the potential distractions caused by so many conversations, and second, it brings companies in line with privacy laws. It used to be that companies piped in music to create an ‘environment,’ but music is much more personal today than it was then. If you pipe music into an office of workers these days, you’re pretty much guaranteed to have a large fraction of them hating what you’re playing.” In contrast, employees won’t argue over whether you should play pink or brown noise.
When he started out in the business, the amps that Cortese worked with were all tube-based. He has thus witnessed the tremendous technological advances that led to the modern amplifier. “There are several reasons why we only install Ashly amplifiers,” said Cortese. “First and foremost, they make one of the few eight-channel, two-rack space amplifiers that deliver greater than 125 watts per channel. Using the Ashly ne8250.70pe allows me to install twice as many loudspeakers, and I can avoid buying and installing a separate DSP by using the ne8250.70pe’s optional onboard DSP. It is a tremendously cost-effective solution.” Cortese reports that his company has installed between 400 and 500 Ashly amplifiers and that only one of them didn’t work perfectly right out of the box. “The people at Ashly are wonderful,” he said. “They are very easy to work with and are always ready to lend assistance.”
Every job is different and comes with its own idiosyncrasies and nuances, but they also share many commonalities. For example, a well-distributed masking system requires a loudspeaker for approximately every 144 feet, and except for where architectural concerns prevent it, Cortese places the loudspeakers above the hung ceiling. “Instead of pointing downward like a normal speaker, they point up,” he said. “That way the noise fires up, hits structure, and rains down like a sprinkler.”
Dynasty Sound most recently completed masking systems in the new 28-story building of Hess Oil Company in Houston. Delivering masking to every office space required 28 eight-channel Ashly ne8250.70pe amps and 10 four-channel Ashly ne4250.70pe amplifiers. “For that job, we mostly used loudspeakers that were placed in the sheetrock,” Cortese said. “With Ashly’s optional DSP tools built right into the amps, it’s very quick to install them, give them a quick EQ curve, and rock and roll.”
Now well into his 60s, Cortese shows no signs of slowing his active lifestyle, and his enthusiasm for creating functional masking systems has never been greater.