TUKWILA, WA-The perception of bowling has changed a lot over the past decade or so. Highlighting the transition is the replacement of dingy, smoky "alleys" with sparkling "bowling centers" complete with high-end audio, video, and lighting systems.
Just outside of Seattle, the new Acme Bowling & Billiard Events Center serves as a primary example of the transformation. The 51,000-square-foot facility looks more like a posh nightclub than a traditional bowling center.
The Acme Bowling center in Tukwila, WA provides exceptional clarity and musicality throughout the space-even with pins crashing in 40 lanes-ensuring that people feel low-end energy pounding their chest as they approach the lane.
With emphasis on entertainment, Kent, WA-based Triamp Group was contracted to design and install the Acme Bowl's professional-caliber sound reinforcement system, along with a professional lighting and control system.
"Our number-one goal was to exceed every expectation for audio in a bowling center," explained Kevin Hill, vice president of Triamp Group. "Specifically, we were looking to provide exceptional clarity and musicality throughout the space-even with pins crashing in 40 lanes-and we wanted people to feel low-end energy pounding their chest as they approach the lane."
The choice for loudspeakers proved to be EAW Commercial VR Series.
"Compared to the other models, the VR Series offered much higher output before distortion and an overall better high-fidelity sound," Hill noted.
The VR Series includes several 2-way loudspeaker designs, all in low-profile cabinets that offer rotatable mid-/high-frequency horns for flexible vertical or horizontal orientation. Integral passive crossover networks in each cabinet facilitate economical single-amplifier powering.
Based upon acoustic modeling of the coverage areas combined with his own experience in implementing dozens of sound reinforcement systems, Hill chose to mount 15 VR62 (offering dual 6-inch cone woofers) loudspeakers above the 30 public lanes. Spaced equidistantly, all of these loudspeakers are secured via their mounting brackets to the backside of a ridge that runs above the lanes, with their 90 x 60-degree coverage pattern carefully aimed backward and downward to ensure that they produce a "blanket of sound" at the area between the back portion of each lane's approach area and the concourse seating regions, without spilling too much stray energy on the front approach to the foul line.
"The idea is to concentrate full-range audio energy directly behind each lane and have it extend far back into the seating areas," Hill said. "Placement was further complicated due to the presence of video screens above every lane, and the multi-level nature of the concourse."
Bolstering the objective of pounding low-end energy, the VR62 models are joined by EAW Commercial VR Series VRS18 subwoofers. These single, 18-inch-loaded units, with vented cabinets, are also positioned equidistantly, flush-mounted to the ceiling right behind the full-range loudspeakers and firing straight down.
The 10 private lanes receive the same loudspeaker treatment, but it's even more dynamic, with five full-range VR62s backed up by four VRS18 subwoofers. "When they want to really 'rock out' in the private lanes, there's plenty of capability to meet those wishes," Hill added.
In the meantime, the rear portion of the concourse area, from one end of the venue to the other, receives additional coverage from EAW Commercial CIS400 and CIS300 ceiling loudspeakers. Via the system's digital signal processor, these receive delayed input to match the arrival time of output from the main loudspeakers. Several VR61 full-range loudspeakers, offering the same mid/high-frequency components and coverage as the VR62 but with one 6-inch-woofer, handle coverage in the billiards area, again in tandem with several VRS18 subwoofers.
Interfacing with the sound system's digital signal processor, a Crestron control system allows the user to select and send discrete audio programming to several zones of loudspeakers.