Full Court Press

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At the new Pete Hanna Arena at Samford University, 20 Danley SH-50 full range loudspeakers cover the 6,000-seat facility providing the needed volume, intelligibility, and pattern control.BIRMINGHAM, AL-Samford University in suburban Birmingham, AL is home to over 4,000 students and the brand new, $32 million Pete Hanna Arena for sports, fitness, and special events. The arena seats 6,000 and, in addition to being the home of Bulldogs basketball and other indoor sports teams, hosts the University's graduation ceremonies and special events. Samford contacted regional contractor dB Audio and Video to design and install a sound system for the arena.

From the user's viewpoint, the system is simple and flexible. A Biamp Volume 8 allows volume adjustment and selection of presets for different uses. Importantly, several presets shut some loudspeakers off when the seats they cover aren't filled, minimizing reflections that would otherwise unnecessarily excite the room. For athletic events or graduation, the moderators simply roll out the appropriate portable equipment rack, plug a cable into a floor pocket, and are ready to go.

From dB Audio and Video system advisor Keith Armstrong's viewpoint, however, designing such a usable system with remarkable audio clarity was challenging. "It's a massive space covered in hard surfaces," he explained. "The decay time is up around 12 seconds. You might question our use of Danley loudspeakers because they're so powerful. But in addition to being powerful, Danley's patented design leads to pattern control that is remarkably tight even at frequencies way below 500Hz. We controlled the energy hitting the walls and thus gave Samford a sound that is refreshingly unlike the mud that typifies most gym sound reinforcement systems."

Armstrong flew six Danley SH-50s above either side of the basketball court in pairs, with one SH-50 on top of the second, to cover the long axis of seating. A single SH-50 flown above each corner of the court fills in the corner seats, and two SH-50s cover seating on either end of the court. The University rolls out two additional SH-50s and two SH-100s to fill in the floor and a temporary stage for faculty during graduation ceremonies.

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Keith Armstong, system advisor, dB Audio and Video hung six Danley SH-50s in pairs on both sides of seating area with one SH-50 in each corner of the arena. The SH-50s' tight pattern control prevents energy from hitting the many reflective surfaces.
Because the Danley loudspeakers do not require bi- or tri-amplification, dB Audio and Video was able to save the University a lot of money on amplification and processing. QSC RMX-series amplifiers power the entire system, one amp channel per loudspeaker, and a single Biamp Audia Solo 4x12 DSP provides processing. In addition, a 70-volt system of Atlas in-ceiling speakers provide sound in the arena's concourses, around the concession stands, and in the hospitality suites.

The courtside control for sporting events consists of a Shure SCM 268 mixer with a Tascam CDA 500 for intermission audio. Two Electrosonics VRM wireless microphones and receivers allow the University to reinforce things like free throw contests or tee-shirt giveaways. In the control room, a Yamaha 01v906 mixes pre-game music and provides feeds for a master video recorder. The portable graduation equipment rack centers on an Allen & Heath GL 2400 mixer and includes several Shure SM 58 handheld mics and a Telex DTR 800 UHF wireless system for wireless intercom.

In addition to the arena's audio system, Armstrong installed video for Samford. A 42-inch plasma screen graces each of the arena's six concession areas and an additional screen provides latecomers with a glimpse of the action at the ticket stand. This distributed video system is controlled by a Crestron system that in turn controls an Analog Way Octovue OVX 831 eight-input switcher.

Although sound for the Pete Hanna Arena's conference rooms, seminar rooms, fitness center, and locker rooms has yet to be finished, the center's biggest job has been a tremendous success. "The University was plagued by complaints in its old graduation location," said Armstrong. "Attendees had difficulty hearing the names being called. They recently held their first graduation ceremony in the new arena and everyone raved about how crystal clear everything was."

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