More than 140 Community R.5 loudspeakers cover the main casino and gaming area at the Harrah's, while 550 Community Cloud Series ceiling speakers handle the simulcast area, as well as restaurants, ballrooms, and other non-gaming areas.CHESTER, PA-With a casino larger than three football fields and the area's only 5/8-mile harness racing track, Harrah's Casino and Racetrack combines the best of indoor and outdoor gaming. Located just down the road from Philadelphia International Airport, the "Race-Ino" offers live racing during the summer months, featuring a multi-story gaming lounge that overlooks the entire track through massive walls of glass.
Jim Esher, Harrah's technical manager of entertainment, oversaw the design of the venue's audio and video systems. As Esher explained, the casino's close proximity to one of the nation's busiest airports presented its own unique challenges. "We're so close to the end of the runway, I can look up and tell you what kind of sunglasses the pilot's wearing," he quipped.
"Needless to say, one of our biggest issues was to overcome the noise factor."
Esher specified 15 Community R1-Series full-range two-way loudspeakers to cover the outdoor racetrack area. "The R-Series speakers really made sense for this project," Esher said. "Nobody comes close to Community for that type of wide-area, high-SPL coverage. If you look at the vast majority of football and baseball stadiums, NASCAR racetracks and sporting arenas, Community is really the de facto loudspeaker for that application. And they're the best-equipped to deal with our Pennsylvania winters as well."
The enclosed Clubhouse area presented another set of challenges. The four-tiered seating area overlooks the track, replete with grandstand seating and a large glass front. "It's an open area with a high ceiling, and there's seating on several levels," Esher explains. "It's pretty much impossible to control the dispersion across the different levels, so ceiling speakers were out of the question." Seven Community IHP-Series trapezoidal two-way boxes cover the area, all mounted at different levels on the massive columns supporting the structure. Adjacent to the Clubhouse, the Racing Lobby and sports bar areas are served by Community I/O surface mount speakers, with 14 pairs of I/O8 8-inch 2-way systems and 6 pairs of I/O5 5-inch 2-way models.
Harrah's specified 15 Community R1-Series full-range two-way loudspeakers to cover the outdoor racetrack area.
Inside the main casino, flexibility was key. "Casinos tend to change things around every so often," observed Esher. "One month you'll have a slot machine area, the next it might become part of a restaurant. So I'm a real proponent of zoned audio, which gives us the flexibility to regroup and restructure the signal distribution easily."
Twelve BSS London BLU80 series audio processors handle signal drive and distribution, with more than 140 R.5 loudspeakers covering the main casino and gaming area, and 550 Community Cloud Series ceiling speakers handling the simulcast area, as well as restaurants, ballrooms, and other non-gaming areas. All systems are powered by Crown CTs-Series amplification.
Networking the system is normally a fairly mundane affair, but as Esher explained, the Harrah's factor called for some creativity. "We knew we would not be permitted to connect our equipment to Harrah's own proprietary network. So we created our own AV local area network, loading all our rack rooms with Cisco 2960 switchers connected by a redundant fiber optic backbone. It's routed through our own firewall and tied to the internet via cable modem, so we can log onto the audio network from anywhere via remote desktop."
With harness racing season in full swing, Esher reports that Chester Downs' second season has seen record attendance figures. Local and national music and performance acts bring in the crowds, and the racetrack and gaming rooms are packed 24/7. "The Chester area has seen a rebirth of sorts, and we're glad to be a part of it," said Esher.