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University Of New Mexico Renovates The Pit’s Sound System

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The Pit’s primary sound system consists of six D.A.S. Audio loudspeaker clusters covering the main area, with two center court clusters and four corner fill clusters.

ALBUQUERQUE, NM—One of college basketball’s most famous and recognizable buildings, University Arena— affectionately known as The Pit—is the crown jewel of the University of New Mexico’s Lobos men’s and women’s basketball teams. With a capacity of 18,018 spectators, the arena is currently undergoing a dramatic renovation and, as part of the upgrade, a new audio system was mandated.

Nashville, TN-based Durrell Sports was contracted to design and install the arena’s new sound system. Originally scheduled for installation during the summer of 2010, the University’s teams elected to remain in The Pit for the current basketball season and, hence, the project was moved forward as a means of not only providing sound reinforcement, but also conforming to emergency evacuation requirements.

“The Pit is a very unusual sports facility,” said John Horrell, president of Durrell Sports. “Originally constructed in 1966, it was built in a 37-foot hole on Albuquerque’s southeast mesa. This facility has a reputation as one of the most hostile arenas in the country. The rise to the stands is very steep, putting fans very close to the action. This, combined with a low 60-foot ceiling results in painfully high crowd noise decibel levels that prove difficult to overcome with properly amplified speech intelligibility. The ability to identify and properly install the correct loudspeaker system that offered precise control over its dispersion was critical for this project. Phase one involved the actual installation of the main bowl loudspeakers while phase two—the installation of a control room plus an ancillary patch field and routing systems for broadcast hooks—will be completed during summer 2010.”

The primary sound system deployed by Durrell Sports consists of six loudspeaker clusters covering the main area, with two center court clusters and four corner fill clusters. Each center cluster includes three D.A.S. Audio ST-1510 3-way mid-high loudspeakers paired with three D.A.S. Rf 12.85 2-way enclosures. Each of the four corner clusters is comprised of a single ST 15.10 plus one Rf 12.85. Low frequency support is provided by eight D.A.S. SUB-18H subwoofers. These subwoofers are ceiling mounted above the main seating area and aimed straight downward, thus allowing tighter control of room resident frequency issues. These loudspeakers are driven by Lab.gruppen C 68:4 amplifiers.

“In a highly reflective environment like The Pit, we required a loudspeaker that offered as much dispersion control as possible,” Horrell said. “We chose the D.A.S. ST 15.10 because of its long throw capabilities and high ‘Q’ rating that enabled us to reach the back rows in a clearly defined dispersion pattern. The Rf 12.85s serve in a nearfield capacity. These speakers point down at or near the court, which for the most part, is a mediacontrolled area that you can’t overwhelm with volume since this is where the on-air commentators are located. The SUB-18H subwoofers were ideal because they have long excursions, moving lots of air, and were the perfect size to replace the previous enclosures without drilling new holes.”

Forty-eight D.A.S. Audio Arco 24T two-way surface mount loudspeakers are installed throughout the “shadow areas” and in the concourse. These lightweight molded enclosures serve as a distributed delay ring that is powered by Lab.gruppen C 68:4 amplifiers. All power amps and DSPs are positioned in the upper balcony behind the arena’s new Daktronics scoreboard. Loudspeaker management chores for the entire system are handled by three Biamp Nexia SP 4-in/8-out digital signal processors.

With phase one of the sound system installation completed, university officials are impressed. “The initial games have been a huge success, and everyone has been really pleased with the system’s performance,” Horrell said. “The combination of Lab.gruppen amplifiers and D.A.S. loudspeakers provides great, even coverage throughout with plenty of headroom to achieve any reasonable levels the client may want. Best of all, speech intelligibility has dramatically improved and clear sound is finally a reality is this challenging space.”

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