Audio at Selland Arena, Fresno, Calif.
Sep 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Jessaca Gutierrez
Selland Arena, Fresno, Calif.
Until recently, the sound experience at Selland Arena in Fresno, Calif., was very telling of its age. Built in 1966, the facility had an audio system that was still operating with horn loudspeakers. It was a system Ted Leamy, chief operating officer of Pro Media / UltraSound, says was woefully underpowered for the type of entertainment that today’s sports arenas provide.
“This is classic difference of sports facilities 30 years ago and a sports facility now,” Leamy says. “Sports now are more than just a game. It’s a whole entertainment packagean expectation from the audience point of view. Audio and video are playing an increasing role in sports facilities. There’s an expectation that when you go to a sports [event], they’re like rock concerts.”
So not only did the arena’s audio system need to be modernized and upgraded, it also had to match audience expectationssomething that isn’t without its challenges when working with an older facility. To do that, PMK Consultants designed an audio arrangement that included an arsenal of Tannoy loudspeakers. The center array included eight VQ Net 60 loud¬speakers and VQ Net MB midbass boxes, four VQ Net DF downfill boxes, and 16 VNet 18DR subs. These were installed around a rectangular-shaped catwalk approximately 45ft. above the center floor of the arena. The four VQ Net 60 loudspeakers with VQ Net MB and VQ Net DF boxes were positioned on the cardinal points of the compass, while the other four VQ Net 60 loudspeakers with VQ Net MB boxes were positioned on the intermediate points. The 16 VNet 18DR subs were positioned in the middle of the system in a cluster of 4x4 boxes facing north, south, east, and west. The VQ Net 60 loudspeakers were fitted with the VQ flying bracket and suspended by custom rigging fabricated by Pro Media / UltraSound. The base of the loudspeakers rested on a special footing attached to the catwalk to create a clean hanging system.
At the stage end, Pro Media / UltraSound installed three VQ Net 60 loudspeakers, one VQ Net MB box, one VQ Net DF box, and four VNet 18DR subs to be used for graduations and other civic end-stage events.
One of the greatest challenges was working with a minimal height. The arena isn’t as tall as some of today’s more modern facilitiesanother telling sign of the facility’s age. Working with only a narrow vertical height of 12ft. from the arena’s new videoboard, the loudspeaker system would have to be able to provide coverage to the entire seating bowl and provide intelligibility as well as the high-impact audio needed for the modern sporting event.
“The biggest logistical challenge was how to pack that much energy and to provide that much coverage and full-frequency bandwidth energy in a very constrained vertical space. Obviously I think Jerrold [Stevens] did an outstanding job at PMK, and I think use of the Tannoy productthe dual-concentric Tannoy productwas the right choice. It enabled a lot of energy, a lot of well-defined, full-frequency energy, to placed in that minimal vertical space available,” Leamy says.
Another factor contributing to the audio system success was how well-behaved acoustically the arena was, and it was something that took Leamy and team by surprise.
“This was just an audio/video upgrade, with no acoustic treatment involved, so I think the surprising thing for us was how great the space sounded right from turning the system on. It was just the right thing for this building, providing an enormous level of intelligibility and provided the high-impact power that was being asked for,” he says.
With no equipment room available in the facility, having a self-powered loudspeaker with DSP was important to the design. In addition to the new loudspeaker system, a new Yamaha M7CL mixer, a Midas Venice 160 console, and a microphone system were installed. With a new front end to the system, the overall effect is an easy-to-operate system that is crowd-pleasing.
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