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Bowl loudspeaker set-up solves university challenge

A new upgraded audio installation has managed to improve multi-purpose sound quality for Weber State University's Dee Events Center

Pro audio specialist L-Acoustics has been discussing its work with Weber State University, and how its recent audio system redesign has addressed some long-standing issues with the central hung array set-up at the campus’ Dee Events Center facility.

The venue in Ogden, Utah which has served as the home court of the NCAA Division I WSU Wildcats men’s and women’s basketball teams and played host to many Big Sky Conference championship games, is a domed bowl facility with a capacity of around 11,600 people.

The existing audio system has been in place for more than 25 years and had been become less effective in catering for the variety of events taking place at the venue, particularly those not taking place ‘in the round’ with a stage set up at one end of the arena.

“A center hung array has a disadvantage in this type of set-up, which is our usual scenario for ceremonies, speeches, main assemblies, graduations, small concerts, and so on,” said Deward Timothy, owner of Poll Sound who led the new L-Acoustics system design. “So we were given the directive to come up with a new design that would work well for both sports and stage events.”

Timothy’s Poll Sound team used L-Acoustics Soundvision design software to find the ideal solution for the venue. The result was a bowl system made up of 66 Kara(i) enclosures and a dozen SB18i subs  divided into six identical arrays of 11 Kara, plus two adjacent SB18, evenly spaced around the cloud and scoreboard above the centre of the court and hung directly from the ceiling of the dome (as pictured). For power, a dozen LA12X amplified controllers are split into four racks positioned around the cloud catwalk.

To meet the challenge of having audio originate from the stage, Poll Sound chose to specify the deployment of four medium-throw L-Acoustics Syva colinear loudspeakers, each seated atop a Syva Low enclosure on the stage floor for extended LF performance. “These provide the audio precedence and floor coverage, and delay portions of the main array back to the stage,” Timothy explained. “This is easy to do because we can create coverage zones with the positioning of the Kara arrays; for example, those facing back to the podium and blocked off areas are not turned on when using the stage.”

Although the facility has yet to welcome spectators due to the pandemic, Mark Livingston, the university’s assistant director, event and sports facilities, said the improvement in quality was evident even before the install was complete. “We have been very pleased with the coverage and clarity of the sound system at all points from the court floor to the top of the arena. When our current director and I first heard Poll Sound starting to test the system from her office, it sounded so clear that we thought we were hearing the full system, when in fact, it was just the first line array that they had flown. Even that one array was outperforming our entire old system!

“This sound system has been one of the greatest upgrades I have seen for the university in my years with Weber State. We’re also very excited to finally be able to tie touring concerts and performances into our sound system, which is something we’ve always had to hire out in the past. We can’t wait for WSU Wildcats fans and our other patrons to experience it for themselves.”