Play ball

After more than three decades of existence, Anaheim Stadium has a new look and a new name. Now Edison International Field of Anaheim, the familiar structure
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Play ball

Apr 1, 1998 12:00 PM, Toni Flosi

After more than three decades of existence, Anaheim Stadium has a new lookand a new name. Now Edison International Field of Anaheim, the familiarstructure has undergone a dramatic renovation over the past two years. Withabout 43,000 seats concentrated along the baselines to the foul poles, itwas intended for baseball only when originally constructed in the mid-1960sas home to the California Angels. By the late 1970s, the stadium wasexpanded to accommodate the Los Angeles Rams football team, with seatingdecks that enclosed the field of play and increased the seat count to morethan 70,000.

Although the Rams moved on to St. Louis several years ago, the stadiumremained the same until the Disney Company acquired the Angels. Asubsequent agreement between Disney and the city of Anaheim, owner of thefacility, led to the $100 million conversion back to a baseball-onlystadium. The result is a 45,000-seat facility offering a traditional lookand feel with modern amenities. The seating decks around the outfield aregone, replaced by a clear view of the surrounding terrain. Virtually everyaspect of the park has been replaced or upgraded, including the soundreinforcement system.

Past historyCraig Janssen of Acoustic Dimensions had served as project designer whenthe system at Anaheim Stadium was last replaced in 1991 (see S&VC, April1991). At that time, he and the design team conceived and implemented adistributed system to replace a central cluster-based approach that hadbeen employed since the venue's inception.

That project marked one of the earliest and largest applications of Crown'sIQ System computer-control technology, a complement to that system's65-plus Crown Com-Tech 1600 and Com Tech-800 power amps. As Janssen noted,"The IQ System allowed us to implement far more sophisticated methods ofcontrol than had previously been available."

The design team worked with Crown and AMX to develop an interface betweenthe IQ System and an AMX touch-screen controller. The two technologiesworking in tandem provided sequential powering up and down, as well asaccess to presets with zone muting and level control. Janssen worked withEastern Acoustic Works (EAW) to create several custom loudspeakers ideallysuited to the needs of that design.

Fast forward to the present. Janssen and Steve Shull, also of AcousticDimensions, were responsible for the design of this latest system,employing some of the concepts from the earlier system while creating andimplementing new solutions. Signal Perfection, Columbia, MD, alsocontributed its design engineering talents and handled the installation.The new system has just been commissioned following a two-year processcoinciding with the timetable of the renovation.

Dynamic capabilities"From an audio perspective, the system already in place worked very wellfor play-by-play announcements," Shull noted. "What the client wanted wasan upgrade to something with more dynamic reproduction for added excitementduring entertainment segments between innings. In addition, components thatwere either at the end of their life cycle or technologically outdatedneeded to be replaced."

One facet still enjoying a healthy life is the IQ System. This system wasinstalled in 1991 and is still compatible with new IQ gear. Interfaced withan AMX AXCESS system with a touch-screen at the control position, the IQSystem host computer now includes the latest version of Turbo software,providing a reliable method to set amp attenuation, zone muting, statuschecks and power on/off sequentially.

Although most of the original Crown Com-Tech amps were maintained from theprevious system and reside in a room behind the control position, they havebeen joined by a healthy contingent of 15 new amps, largely CrownMacro-Tech 3600VZs. They were added to bolster the system's improvedlow-frequency capability.

"The Com-Tech amps had held up well during years of use with the firstsystem," Shull said. "Crown was very supportive in helping to reconditionthose needing service."

A remote amp room has been added behind the right-field wall to powerloudspeakers used with the Jumbotron video screen in right field and otherloudspeakers covering left-field bleacher seating. A Cobranet-based audionetwork distributes the audio through conventional ethernet.

Another facet of the system is the addition of IQ SLM-8. Integrated on theIQ System control bus, the SLM-8 is an eight-channel unit that providesload monitoring and frequency response. It performs an initial sweep,obtaining reference evaluation of system performance, translating this intoan on-board E-prom in the form of a data curve depicting plot of impedanceversus frequency along with voltage versus frequency. With this referencedata, test curves can be taken with this data and mapped on the IQ hostcomputer, indicating pass or fail of channels. It also compares the lasttest taken against the reference point for a pass/fail comparison.

"The SLM-8 performs rapid, comprehensive checks prior to each event,significant because the sheer size of the Edison Field system poseschallenges for operators to insure that all components are in goodoperating condition," said Janssen. "Of particular interest to us were thefrequency response tests, which reduce the time required for maintenance."

A Peavey MediaMatrix system is used for all processing, replacing racks ofindividual signal processing units. Acoustic Dimensions defined optimumparameters for the MediaMatrix system, then password protected it toprevent changes. Operators have access to a level of MediaMatrix via theAMX touch-screen to mute parts or all of the system if necessary. Also withthe touch-screen, the operator can bypass Media-Matrix and use the oldprocessing equipment, which was kept for emergency situations.

Custom tailoringMany of the loudspeakers, particularly those mounted on the canopy abovethe upper deck, had spent years exposed to the elements and were thereforenearing the end of funcionality. However, some existing loudspeakers couldbe retained, although they have been deployed differently.

Acoustic Dimensions worked with EAW on development of several custommodels. The most intensive effort focused on new three-way loudspeakersmounted on the supports of the canopy and firing down to cover field-levelseating. The new loudspeaker marries an EAW MH Series mid/high loudspeakerwith a TD415 low-frequency loudspeaker, housed together in a newhorizontally oriented cabinet. The basis of the TD415 is a concept createdby Janssen called tuned dipolar array (TDA), which when combined withspecialized signal processing, supplies powerful low-end energy that istightly controlled. The loudspeakers, in single units, are mounted on everyother canopy support arm and are housed in steel cages, devised by DaveCallahan of SPL, that provide stable support.

"The new canopy loudspeakers are absolutely driving the system. They coverthe most significant percentage of seats," explained Shull. "There was somechallenge here, largely due to the need to follow strict seismicguidelines, which changed the canopy structure significantly. Previously,the loudspeakers had been mounted on large concrete panels between thesupports, but more than half of these were removed.

"As a result, we needed to find alternative mounting positions," hecontinued. "This took a considerable amount of work, with Dave'ssubstantial experience with iron and steel structures allowing the job tobe done safely, effectively and within the installation deadline."

"Kenton Forsythe of EAW was an excellent partner on this part of theproject," Janssen noted. "We supplied him with our criteria and somerelatively strict budget constraints, and he was able to come back to uswith solutions."

The upper deck is covered by existing down-firing and rear-firing two-wayloudspeakers repositioned in pairs on every canopy support arm. Seats onthe field level shadowed by the terrace balcony receive reinforcement frommore rear-firing loudspeakers mounted toward the front of the balcony'sunderside. The Jumbotron in left field uses EAW MH series loudspeakersretained from the prior system. Bleacher seating is covered by loudspeakersmounted above and behind the section. The MediaMatrix handles the timedelay necessary to produce a coherent image at each seat.

Acoustic Dimensions has presented a number of other ideas for enhancing thesystem. Before the next baseball season begins, Crown will update IQ forWindows software and have the system running on a Windows '95 platform.

"This provides the option of upgrading systems to allow multiple IQcontrol/monitor computers throughout a facility," added Jim Stembel,Crown's IQ product manager.

In the meantime, however, the new system at Edison Field stands up as amongthe best ballpark systems, and it speaks directly of the rapid advancesmade by designers, installers and manufacturers in providing sound qualitythat only a few years ago would not have been possible in such a largespace.

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