MESA, AZ-Track and field, football, soccer, cheerleading, graduation, and other ceremonies: the Mesa Community College stadium is busy nearly year-round with college as well as area high school events. But a five-year old PA system-embedded in a 10-year old infrastructure-consisting of few high-frequency paging horns, with no low frequency capability at all, was completely inadequate to support their schedule.
Mesa Community College, the Southern and Dobson campus near downtown Mesa, AZ, is part of the Maricopa County community college system. Mesa is part of the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale metropolitan area, and the third-largest city in Arizona with a population of 450,000. Trying to compliment the growing locale, coordinator of video productions Ron Rangel struggled with the legacy system for years, but remained steadfast in his refusal to update it with anything less than a full-range system.
"The most important requirement the school had was the ability to play music for their events," said Ron Birkla, president of A/V Tecture, Glendale, AZ. "They really needed a full-range loudspeaker system, on a limited budget."
A/V Tecture set up a demo for Rangel, the campus director of media services, the facilities coordinator for the stadium, and the school's football coach. "Ron brought a couple of different loudspeaker models from three manufacturers," said Rangel, "and rented a high-lift so he could raise the speakers up to the physical height where they would actually be mounted on the poles. When he fired them up, all of us were extremely impressed with the Atlas Sound AH series horns.
"Ron was the only vendor who bid the system who actually brought a speaker on-site so we could hear it before we bought it," continued Rangel. "What this said to us was that he really wanted our input, whereas the other vendors were telling us, more-or-less, you're getting what I spec'ed for you."
Demoing product on-site, in the actual application, is the A/V Tecture MO. "Get it out where it's actually going to be heard and let the customer make the decision," said Birkla. "You can read spec sheets to the client all day, but until they hear the speaker in its environment, they really have nothing to go by."
"Two things made the choice easy for them," said Birkla. "First was the sound from the Atlas AH 6565s was remarkable. Highs were crisp and clear and the lows were rich and full. It made everyone at the demo say, 'That's a horn?' Second was the throw distance from the 6565s. We had a limited number of poles to use for hanging speakers, but a very large area to cover-specifically a track and field staging area about 120 feet from the nearest pole. We used a 6565 to hit this area and it was incredibly clear even at that distance."
The new sound system for the Mesa Community College stadium consists of eight Atlas Sound AH Series Stadium Horns: two 6565s for long throw into the track and field areas, and six 9040s located above home stands (two), above visitor stands (two), above the field (two) for on-field events such as cheerleading competitions and graduation ceremonies. All are powered by Crown XLS series amps. Processing is via a Symetrix Symnet DSP.
Of course, the solution to the sound system overhaul was not without issues. "There was no infrastructure in-place to build on," said Birkla. "So we had to demonstrate to the client what needed to be done-trenching, saw-cutting concrete, installing conduit-and why they needed to spend the money."
Problems with the school's existing on-field wireless system had to be solved also. "The school leases every square foot they can spare around the stadium and ball fields to cell phone and radio towers," said Birkla. "So there's a lot of ambient radiation around the field." At the same time they demoed loudspeaker horns, A/V Tecture demoed the Shure SLX wireless system. "We used the system end-to-end on the field with no signal loss," said Birkla, "so the problem was solved right away."
People have called Rangel and asked what Mesa is running in its stadium. "I tell them that the Atlas horns are phenomenal, and I refer them to Ron and A/V Tecture." Birkla is currently installing a nearly identical system in a Glendale school district high school stadium, while Mesa will re-do its baseball stadium system using the same Atlas horns.