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Danley audio horsepower for Kentucky Derby racecourse

Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, US, has installed a Danley loudspeaker system to serve its 52,000-seat grandstand and to complement a huge new 171ft by 9ft video screen – credited as the largest 4K video board in the world.

The new screen, which has been installed in anticipation of the 2014 Kentucky Derby, required a sound system to realise its full potential and impact. The system replaces the facility’s previous low-fi sound reinforcement system that had been designed a while back for spoken word reproduction.

Dallas-based Marsh/PMK International, designed the new sound reinforcement systems for all of the outdoor areas after being enlisted by Kentucky-based Encompass Develop, Design & Construct who oversaw the installation of both the new video board and the new sound systems.

The project had to be completed in six-and-a-half months from start to finish – in time to make the system fully ready for the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby race days on 2 and 3 May 2014.

“From the time we got the order until it was shipped complete was four weeks; 250 fully weatherproofed loudspeakers in four weeks, that’s unheard of in this day of off shore production!” commented Mike Hedden President and CEO commented, Danley Sound Labs.

Unlike a typical baseball or football stadium, the grandstand building at Churchill Downs has seating tiers that are stacked vertically, straight up and down. Moreover, various expansions have occurred over the years adding sections on either side of the historic “twin spires.” All of these sections have slightly different profiles. There are varying ceiling heights, seating depths and column spacing. It was a unique situation that required careful planning.

The final system uses two basic cluster types alternate along the length of the grandstand, just under the front edge of the Level 300 ceiling. There are nearly sixty clusters in total. The first type of cluster includes a Danley SH50 long-throw box and a companion TH212 subwoofer. The SH50 covers the seating in front of the grandstand building all the way out to the edge of the track. The second type of cluster replaces those boxes with a Danley SM96 to provide near coverage in between the horizontal cut-off angles of the SH50s in the adjacent clusters. Both cluster types include a rear-firing full-range SM60F aimed toward the top of the Level 300 seating tier and a more-or-less down firing SM96 with its woofer removed.