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THE SVC INTERVIEW: Eddie Zamorano, Bobby Lackey Stadium, Texas

SVC: We know that there was a high school that was in pretty dire need of a new sound system for the home games at Bobby Lackey Stadium. Did something big happen, like a system failure, to get them into action on this? How did they get moving on it?

Eddie Zamorano: Well, they went to a game at another town and another venue and they heard the sound system that had just been installed a couple weeks before and they were not pleased with what they heard. So they were thinking ‘we need to find something better.’ Particularly, they have an outstanding video production group inside of the school district itself. They run all their ads on their scoreboard screen including an ESPN-style pregame before the actual game. They service two high schools – Weslaco High School and Weslaco East High School – and then they do a post-game for about 30 minutes after the game. It streams out over the internet, but they also play it over the screen and the audio comes out over the scoreboard there in the stadium.

And so that’s all produced in-house by the high schools?

Yes, sir, it is in-house. And I’m telling you that for a south Texas school district running that kind of an outfit, it is top-notch.

Wow, that must be a great experience for the kids when they get to help out and learn about all of this stuff from the ground up.

They do. They actually do.

What’s the general design of the new sound system that you put in?

We went through a process. We had to do several demos with them. We did the Danley J1. We did a J1 with a BC415. And finally when they had a catastrophic failure in the audio system there we did one last demo with them with a pair of J3s and some BC218s; actually a pair of those. And in the end that’s the system that they stuck with.

Well, that’s great that they were able to demo it instead of having to rely just on promotion.

Sure. Yeah, the system sold itself. I mean Danley makes an outstanding product. I mean it’s unbelievable with the quality of sound. Sometimes the appearance may seem a little unorthodox to some people, but the thing is the product is outstanding.

And I think you used the Danley DNA 20k4 Pro amplifiers and those are four-channel units?

Yes, sir, they’re 4 channels. The thing is that we had to use one DNA 20k per Jericho. And then we used one more DNA 20k for the two BC218 cabinets.

Okay, and so each of those actually needs a four-channel amp.

Yes, sir. Yes, sir. Especially with the way that the system is configured and the way they would set all the components up, you need one of those amps and believe me, those amps do all the work. They handle all the processing. They’re worth every penny.

It looks like you didn’t have to do a lot of balancing and tweaking on this setup because you had some Danley presets all ready to go.

Yes. That’s the ease of using their software. They’re using a new software now that’s called System Engineer and all you do is you load up presets that they’ve already configured for you. That install was a little bit more involved because these are actually the 20k4 Pro Dante amplifiers. I’m actually running Dante signal from the press box all the way to the scoreboard.

Oh, and that’s what I wanted to ask you about—how you’re getting the audio from the amplifiers all the way to the scoreboard. So do you have the amps up there in the press box somewhere?

No, I don’t actually. What I did was I ran fiber optics. Over 700 feet of fiber optics from the top of the press box to the scoreboard itself. And I’ve used a couple of Cisco switchers and ran that through that fiber and did the conversion through those Cisco switchers. And then I ran that Dante signal through that.

Oh yeah, the fiber link really makes better sense for stadiums and big venues where you need to cover a lot of distance and you don’t have to worry with grounding issues if the scoreboard is getting its power from somewhere else.

It does. Exactly. No problems with that. The main thing about that is when you’re configuring those systems, especially with Dante, if you follow Audinate’s instructions it makes life so simple setting these systems up. I mean they practically just work on their own.

And so what did you use for the mixer that you’ve got up there in the press box? I think it was a Midas M32R?

That’s correct, sir. It’s a Midas M32R with an X-Dante out card. It goes out from there into the switch and then the switch runs out to the scoreboard. Now out at the scoreboard we did use a climate-controlled, weatherproofed box. We set all the amplifiers in there and the router and everything. It’s very well-protected. It’s got an AC unit because things get really hot down here in south Texas.

Okay, so you’ve got the amplifiers at the scoreboard?

Yes, sir.

And you’re feeding the audio from the control area so you don’t have to deal with a long speaker run.

Right. Exactly. We ran a long analog— insulated a mic cable all the way from the press box down to the same station there as an analog backup.

And so the Midas M32R, I’ve seen a couple of those and it looks to me like one of the advantages of that one would be having a lot of very versatile mixing power in a very small space.

Yes, sir. Yes, sir. It really makes the job easier for us, especially in that situation. With the live sound feed, everything is going into that mixer from the scoreboard and everything else that’s going on in that facility. Our engineers actually set up matrixes to run out to their video feeds as well, so it’s all tied into that whole system there.

Okay, and I would think that the video control and audio control are co-located right there in the press box.

Yes, sir, they are. It’s right next door in the press box.

Yeah, it’s a great experience working on something like that in-house and not having to worry about getting a contract crew together every time they want to do anything. So with the former sound system out of action, how long did it take to get all of this in there?

Well, it took us longer than we would have liked. The main reason being the Danley speakers are a little bigger. It wasn’t exactly what was in there before. I won’t mention what was in there before because they actually do make a great product, it’s just that I believe it was more user error on their part that actually led to that catastrophic failure. So that’s where we jumped in. It took us a couple of months to get in there only because the engineers in the school district, they’re contract engineers that just want to make sure everything is put in there right and we cover all our bases, especially with safety. The scoreboard is actually on the football field at that stadium so you have to be careful with these because there’s people walking around and it is an old structure as well. So it took us a little longer just to get the approvals from the engineers, but once we got that then we got ourselves going. It took us a couple of weeks just to get it up.

And I know that in Texas they are VERY serious about their high school football.

Yes, sir, they are. And, you know, it’s a production. I mean when you go to those games they run everything on that scoreboard. They have advertising. That’s crucial to maintaining what goes on in the stadium as well.

So since you had the presets to put in, I guess it didn’t take very long to get the whole sound system tweaked and tested.

Honestly, it took me maybe a couple of hours maximum especially with the ease-of-use with the Danley amplifiers and the Dante. Dante—I’m sold on that stuff. I mean, it’s really good. It’s easy to use. I haven’t had any problems with failure yet, so I haven’t gotten that call yet, so it works well. It works very, very well.

And the first time it was used, was that on a big home football game?

Well, actually they used it for a large area track meet. It was totally intelligible. Everything that was going on, you could hear everything that was happening. And then the next event they had after that was the EastWest All-Star game and honestly, there were no complaints. They used to have complaints before with the old system as it was getting ready to fail. You couldn’t hear anything. Things were unintelligible. It was just one thing after another with that system. So they really needed something bad.

Wow. So I’m sure after it was tested and you knew it was going to work, there would still have to be a little pressure with that big crowd out there expecting to hear good, clear sound.

Right, right. And that audio system is crucial to their advertising as well, so it will be important to really see it once they get their first football game series starting up this fall.

And with Hermes Music, are you more into sales or installation or a little of both?

We’re getting into AV integration, especially the pro audio. I’ve done several projects here using a lot of Danley product. I’ve been able to demo a lot of the Danley product to some of the school districts down here. They get to see and they get to hear first-hand how these products work and I’m telling you they sell themselves. I mean, it’s just the way they work and the way they’re engineered, designed, it’s just optimum audio.

So, have you guys got some more installation projects coming up?

I do, actually. We’re getting ready to do some – schoolboard room, there’s a couple of smaller football stadiums and practice facilities in McAllen that we’re working on. I just finished one; I’m about to do the other one once they get the facility done.

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