Greensboro, NC - An AV trifecta is hard to come by, but an adept integrator completed one recently at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (NC A&T) in Greensboro. For Carey Sound, outfitting a longtime client with simultaneous audio installs at a football stadium, sports complex and theater was a project that clearly illustrated the direction sound and vision are taking on campus.
"Smart classrooms are bringing schools up to higher-end systems, and that's spilled into their sporting facilities," observed Ken Carey, president and owner of Carey Sound. "Sports facilities are big multimedia extravaganzas now, and there are higher expectations from patrons and school administrators. They don't just have an announcer calling out the football game anymore; there are serious presentations where video and audio are precisely timed. These same high-tech expectations are also allowing NC A&T to do things with its theater productions that it wouldn't have been capable of previously."
In just three weeks, Carey helped transform the NC A&T experience with significant audio upgrades to Aggie Football Stadium, Corbett Sports Arena and the Robeson Theater. The football stadium renovation was spurred by the university's decision to install a large, new Barco scoreboard over one end zone. "The scoreboard was really designed around the sound system, rather than the other way around," Carey said. "When I made our presentation to the university, I compared it to a home theater, which is just basically a light show without audio-but it's the audio that really makes things pop. I said, 'You're going to spend a million dollars on what's essentially an outdoor movie screen. The audio ought to be complementary to it, and it wouldn't cost that much more to do it right versus not.'"
Carey and his project manager, Jay Speetjens, specified the Electro-Voice X-Line system, which provides wide, horizontal dispersion from a single vertical line array, to occupy the real estate directly above the scoreboard. "It met all my SPL requirements for being able to get over stadium noise, and I knew I wouldn't have to run subs with that system because I have control of it down to 50 Hz," Carey related. "I also knew I wanted to match them up with the EV P3000RL remote-controlled DSP amplifiers. What's unique about this system is that there's a loop from the backside of the amplifier that goes into the processor, so their processor is not only actively controlling the system but monitoring its status in terms of temperature and input signal level at the same time. So from a service and control standpoint, it can actually tell me in real time if there are problems in the array."
Step two of Carey Sound's NC A&T tour took the company indoors to the Ellis F. Corbett sports center, which not only hosts men's and women's basketball and volleyball but a wide variety of events, including concerts.
"We did the first concert in that arena some 20 years ago, so we're really familiar with the facility," Carey noted. "It was built as a basketball arena, and it's got a lot of challenging issues as far as audio is concerned. We put in a distributed Dynacord system of 12 Cobra top boxes aimed at eight different zones, with four more of the EV P3000RL amps.
"There's a simple line mixer, but when they need to do something more elaborate, they bring in the Midas Venice console that they use for their portable Cobra system. The only area not covered by the fixed installation is the gym floor, so when there are concerts there, they put in the entire portable system, point it at the main floor and off they go."
Feeling invigorated by the first two installs, the Carey Sound team took on the final chapter in the trilogy, the intimate Paul Robeson Theatre. Here, Carey was able to specify a strong sound system without overpowering the aesthetics of the room. "The main speakers facing the audience are the EV QRx 212/75s, and due to the coverage pattern, I don't have to make the boxes lean down very much," he explained. "They're already aiming down at about 15 degrees, so they can stand upright much more than lean forward and not look odd in the front of the stage.
"They also use an EV SX300 as the speaker to build into the set, if need be, so sound effects like a vacuum cleaner can actually come out of the stage. The result is a richer audio experience that can be choreographed into the play."
The 21 days Carey Sound spent reshaping NC A&T's audio are a microcosm of the business philosophy that has protected this AV company's decades-long relationship with its client, and fueled its own growth in general. "I am never the cheap guy on the block-I like to say that we design for the last system they'll ever own," Carey explained. "People know that we sell sophisticated gear, and that nobody does service the way we do. We also do a whole variety of installs, not just big arena stuff. A lot of contractors specialize in something, so how do we keep everything straight? To me, all the different projects we do, from very big to very small, is what keeps me interested in audio."