Designer's Choice

The University at Albany took the old adage, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," to heart recently while bringing new audio to its Recreation and Convocation Center (RACC). Located on the SUNY school's Uptown campus, the RACC is a multipurpose room used for everything from basketball and other indoor sports to graduation commencements. Designed and implemented by SimplexGrinnell, the facility's new sound system takes careful aim at curbing inherent acoustical problems within the cavernous environment with the aid of QSC's ModularDesign and AcousticDesign Series loudspeakers.

With corporate headquarters in Boca Raton, FL, SimplexGrinnell maintains 160 local branches throughout North America. To handle the UAlbany RACC project, the firm called upon Dominick Campana, its pro sound market manager within the New York region.

"The project was a challenge," Campana admitted. "Basically because it is such a massive space. Dilemmas posed by the sheer size of the structure were compounded by the building's harsh, reflective walls, made from concrete block and an open-shell grid deck. If all of this isn't bad enough, when a large crowd is present, the noise floor hovers around 80 dB without even turning the sound system on. When I designed the room's new audio system, my goal was to meet these issues head-on before they could get out of control. To that end, I relied upon the high output and tight pattern control of QSC's ModularDesign and AcousticDesign loudspeakers."

Powered by 17 CX Series amplifiers including CX1102s, 902s, 702s, 502s, 302s and 1202Vs, Campana's distributed loudspeaker arrays fan out around the room using four ModularDesign MD-F122/124r enclosures, eight MD-F122/94r's, eight MD-F122/64r's and four MD-L115 low-frequency cabinets. Thirty-six AcousticDesign AD-S52T loudspeakers join the club as fills for the upper balcony area.

The RACC's previous system was either powered all the way on, or all the loudspeakers were off. In keeping with the project's "ounce of prevention" philosophy, this time around Campana provided system presets that allowed the rig to be configured according to crowd sizes and the nature of the activity going on.

"Before, if only half the house was full, you still had to turn on the entire system," he related. "Now, you can select from a preset to accommodate half the house, or any other seating configuration, and only use the loudspeaker arrays you need. The last thing you want to do in here is aim loudspeakers at an empty space, as that will only add to the reverberant energy present."
Putting the MD Series loudspeakers' respective 60- x 40-degree, 90- x 40-degree, and 120- x 40-degree dispersion patterns to work within the environment provided the exact, even coverage Campana required to neutralize the effects of its harsh, reflective surfaces. Conversely, the compact AD-S52T enclosures pulled their weight as well, extending the sound field into the building's upper level with the same sonic precision.
"These are my loudspeakers of choice when I have the choice," Campana said. "I needed high output, and I needed control. They gave me both, plus a lot more. Arriving out-of-the-box finished in white, they matched the interior decor perfectly. They were extremely affordable too, which was a plus on a job where we were pushing the limits of the budget."

Since the completion of the installation, audio in the RACC has moved forward by an order of magnitude, both in terms of flexibility and performance. "Before, some events required that a separate touring-style rig be brought in," Campana added. "Now, in many cases, larger events require only a separate mixing board, and maybe a mic or two. There's not much going on in here that this system can't handle. The performance has been outstanding. If I had to do it all over, I wouldn't change a thing."

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