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Lowrance Sound Company Installs SymNet Units in UT’s Thompson-Boling Arena

It's easy to excite crowds at the University of Tennessee's Thompson-Boling Arena

Lowrance Sound Company Installs SymNet Units in UT’s Thompson-Boling Arena

Jul 17, 2006 4:31 PM

It’s easy to excite crowds at the University of Tennessee’s Thompson-Boling Arena, which serves as home court for the NCAA’s winningest basketball coach, Pat Summitt, and her Lady Volunteers. The 24,000-seat arena’s operators understand that precise audio is crucial to keeping fans at a fever pitch, and depends on Symetrix SymNet digital signal processing to keep everybody moving.

“Thompson-Boling Arena is high-energy, high-profile. The people there are having a good time and the sound is integral to that,” says Mark Lowrance, president of A/V design firm, Lowrance Sound Company of Union City, Tenn. “SymNet allows me to be completely confident in the audio processing system that we designed for such a well-attended facility. You want to make the install as perfect as you can. And after one entire season of SymNet we’ve had zero problems.”

Originally built in the early 1980’s, Thompson-Boling Arena was forced to replace the failing system front end as both the UT men’s and women’s basketball teams reached national prominence. With a need for a full 196 output channels, 12 inputs, and massive processing power, Lowrance knew from experience that the control, flexibility, and sound quality of the SymNet DSP solution was ideal. In all, 18 1RU SymNet Express Cobra units were specified, allowing Lowrance and his team, to replace five racks full of equipment with a much more efficient two-rack system front end.

“We had used SymNet previously for UT’s alumni auditorium and found that it worked extremely well,” he reports. “With so many outputs in this arena, I wanted to be sure we had distributed DSP power. SymNet’s architecture allowed us to create a system where even if one box went down, the others would remain fully operational. The entire SymNet system is built using only two models of processors allowing easy planning for exchange if needed. This setup has been operational for an entire basketball season now, and we did not have one service call the entire year.”

Working on Ethernet and CobraNet networks in conjunction with existing ElectroVoice speakers, Crown amps, and a Crest 32 x 8 console, SymNet’s processing, based on four SHARC floating-point DSP chips, 24-bit A/D and D/A converters and a dynamic range of 110dB, delivers the clear sound quality that Thompson-Boling Arena’s environment demands. “Anybody can route audio, but the big question is, ‘What does it sound like when you do it?'” says Lowrance. “Symetrix SymNet does exactly what it’s supposed to do. This is a high-performance processor with equalizers and compressors that work well and sound very good – we simply haven’t had any audio issues at all.” Symetrix’s commitment to complete support was also a key factor in Lowrance’s specification of SymNet. “This was a big project with a short timeframe and a great deal of challenges,” he notes. “I wanted what would be the best support network, which is why I went with Symetrix. Once installed, SymNet proved to be very adept at updates and maintenance. We built a GUI where we could look at every speaker output and turn them on and off for troubleshooting. It does not get easier than that.”

With great athletic action pretty much guaranteed at every contest in Thompson-Boling Arena, Symetrix SymNet gives Mark Lowrance, its meticulous audio system designer, assurance that the sound will always add to the intense atmosphere. “This is one of the largest on-campus arenas in the country and top audio performance and reliability were a must,” Lowrance says. “SymNet did exactly what I needed, giving me distributed processing, audio fidelity, and networking with solid reliability at the core. All of this came at the best value for the university.”

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