A university sports arena has been updated with a new audio system that depends almost exclusively on self-powered Tannoy VQNET loudspeakers for reinforcement of speech and music.
As the home of the University of Wisconsin-Stout (UW-Stout) men’s and women’s basketball, gymnastics and volleyball teams, the Johnson Fieldhouse arena is primarily used for athletics, but it’s also the site of the campus’ annual commencement ceremonies. It required an audio system to provide high intelligibility and even coverage for use with games, competitions, practice sessions, or commencement.
“The old system was installed roughly 25 years ago,” said Lori Anda, director, recreation and sports complexes at UW-Stout, “but it wasn’t efficient for events that weren’t athletics. The speaker cluster was above the centre of the court, so during games it hit the spectators; but at commencement, people said they couldn’t hear very well, so [the speakers] needed to be updated to accommodate all our events.”
Designed and installed by Wisconsin- based AV firm Audio Architects, the new loudspeaker system is comprised of 10 Tannoy VQNET 100 loudspeakers. These fit the needs of the facility in all respects: for output, intelligibility and aesthetics, according to Andy Pierson, Audio Architects’ senior sales engineer/lead digital signal processor programmer. “They provide extremely high directivity and in reverberant environments like this it’s all about control,” said Pierson. “Also, with the sensitivity of the VQNET 100s, you’re getting the fundamental vocal range within the horn-loaded portion of the box, supplemented by some of the low range from its dual 12in drivers.”
The Tannoy loudspeakers are flown from the ceiling above the arena’s beams to keep them from accidentally interfering with play during ball games and to keep them out of sight when aesthetics are a factor. Two pairs of VQNET 100s cover the main bleacher sections on either side of the gymnasium. Another two provide coverage for the court itself. During commencement, those are augmented by four more VQNET 100s, two of which cover each end of the room.
“The time-zero point is right where the podium microphone is set up for commencement; the same place they make courtside announcements from,” Pierson explained. “The loudspeakers for the bleachers behind the announcer and the loudspeakers covering the court aren’t time-delayed, but those covering the other side and each end are time-aligned and work very well for both commencement and games.”
“We really like powered speakers for large fieldhouses,” he continued. “It makes servicing easier, frees up real estate in key areas and limits the need for long cable runs. In rooms like this, typical runs can be 200ft long and result in a lot of loss. Also, because of the VNET software, you get precise control and can monitor the loudspeakers remotely. With a powered box, you know the manufacturer’s design provides the right amount of power for all the drivers, which makes them a really good fit for this environment.”
The main system also includes two pre-existing third-party dual 15in subs, Biamp Tesira DSP and a rolling equipment rack that can be connected to an external mixer and/or used in conjunction with any of a number of Cat5 receptacles installed in the arena to expand the venue’s flexibility –“for instance, if they need microphones for a reader or choir during commencement,” Pierson explained.
For Pierson, the job involved both audio and video upgrades to the venue; just one of many projects that Audio Architects has undertaken at UW-Stout over time, including the February 2015 installation of a smaller Tannoy system in the Johnson Fieldhouse weight room. That system is comprised of four Tannoy DVS 8 surface-mount loudspeakers; these were chosen for their high output and the amount of low-frequency energy they provide when mounted in each corner of the room.
In every case, another key factor for UW-Stout beyond intelligibility and flexibility is ease of use, which the Johnson Fieldhouse system provides with individual, automated settings for commencement, game days and practice sessions. “So when people want to listen to music while they shoot hoops, they’re not blasting everyone else out of the building,” Anda said. Most importantly, the Tannoy VQNET 100s provide a substantial improvement in sound. “Audio Architects met our needs very well. The system works perfectly. Budget permitting, I’d put these loudspeakers into the other venues at Stout as well.”