Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C. seats 20,000 fans and is home to the Washington Capitals NHL hockey team, the Washington Wizards NBA basketball team, and the Georgetown NCAA men’s basketball team.
The sound reinforcement system at the arena has been in place for 20 years and this started to affect sound quality. Headquartered two hours away in Manheim, Pennsylvania, national AVL integration firm Clair Solutions embraced the task of modernising the Capital One Arena with the installation of new EAW self-powered Anna and Otto adaptive line array elements, complete with custom flown equipment racks. Clair Solutions managed the project without a hiccup on a short lead time.
“Capital One Arena’s previous sound reinforcement system was 20 years old,” explained Jim Devenney, Clair Solutions senior systems designer. “It lacked clarity in some seats and was not up to modern expectations for a live arena experience. The owners worked with Stuart Shatz at WJHW consultants to draft several possible sound reinforcement solutions that would work for the arena and then put them out to bid. Since we have established relationships with so many different manufacturers, we were able to bid on all of the proposals. They chose us based on our competitive pricing, our well-established record of successful jobs of this scope, and on our proximity to Capital One Arena.” The owners approved Clair Solutions’ bid in early July, and Devenney’s team met several short deadlines to get everything in place and fully commissioned before the first pre-season hockey games in mid-September.
At the heart of the new system are six self-powered EAW adaptive line array clusters. Each cluster uses nine Anna full-range components and five Otto subwoofer components. To minimise runs, Clair Solutions technicians built and installed custom equipment racks to fly behind each cluster for I/O, power distribution, and network switches and ran new fibre from the mix position to the equipment racks. The fibre carries signal (fully-redundant Dante, plus analogue backup) from a BSS Blu DSP and networking system that in turn takes its feed from an existing console at the mix position. In addition, the fibre allows the operators to steer the EAW system. For example, if the upper bowl isn’t being used, the upper Anna components can steer down to reinforce the lower bowl. Clair Solutions worked with Mountain Productions to install the EAW clusters on hoists. A custom Niscon/Raynok hoist control system allows the clusters to raise and lower to storage, maintenance, and use positions, either individually or as a group.
Although the main EAW clusters cover the vast majority of the arena, several additional areas of fill were needed. Twenty-four EAW QX364 full-range loudspeakers cover the upper-quarter of the upper bowl. Appropriate delays from the BSS DSP ensure coherent arrival times relative to the main system. Sixteen Fulcrum AH463 horns aim straight down from above the hockey dasher to cover fans who are right up against the glass (and thus in the shadow of the main system). Those horns are turned off for non-hockey events. Eight more Fulcrum CX 1265 speakers cover the court area from the scoreboard. Although the line arrays are self-powered, Crown DCi amplifiers power all of the fill loudspeakers.
“Clair Solutions was a terrific partner throughout our recent sound system replacement at Capital One Arena,” said David Touhey, president, venues at Monumental Sports & Entertainment, the company that owns and operates Capital One Arena. “They were organised, timely, available to troubleshoot at any twist or turn, and provided constant communication throughout the process. Clair Solutions has been very supportive in the initial operations of the sound system upgrade, and we are appreciative of all their hard work in helping us provide the best overall fan experience.”