Hillsdale, MI—Located in rural southern Michigan, Hillsdale College is an independent, coeducational, residential, liberal arts college with a student body of about 1,400. With the February opening of the Margot V. Biermann Athletic Center, the college has a new 76,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility that primarily serves the track and tennis programs while providing additional space for general physical fitness. As part of this new addition to the campus, sound reinforcement takes on a new dimension with the installation of a sound system drawn from the Aero Series 2, Artec, and Arco catalogs of Valencia, Spain-based D.A.S. Audio.
Battle Creek MI-based AVTEK, a design / build and special events firm with a focus on AV installations for the commercial, education, and worship markets, was contracted to design and deploy the college’s new sound system. Andrew Walker, who handles both system design and sales for the company, discussed the nature of the project and his decision to install D.A.S. Audio loudspeakers.
“With the February opening of the Margot V. Biermann Athletic Center,” states Walker, “Hillsdale College has a spectacular new venue that, in addition to being the new home of the tennis, track, and general fitness programs, will also serve as a special use facility for events such as speeches, presentations, various productions, and graduation ceremonies. The space measures 345 feet long by 205 feet wide with a 55 foot ceiling at its peak. It incorporates an Olympic caliber track surface and, when used for non-athletic events, has a capacity for roughly 4,500 people. For both sporting and other events, a high quality sound system capable of a high level of speech intelligibility and music reproduction was considered essential.”
Ultimately, Walker and the AVTEK installation crew outfitted the room with 18 D.A.S. Audio Aero 8A powered, ultra-compact two-way line array modules, 4 LX-215A powered subwoofers, 24 Arco 24T molded high-impact ABS enclosures, and 3 Artec 28 two-way passive loudspeakers. The Aero 8A enclosures are positioned using a flown left-center-right array configuration of 6 boxes per hang while the LX-215 subwoofers are flown centered between the left-center array and the right-center array. The Artec 28’s are flown above the mezzanine level and the Arco 24T loudspeakers are ceiling mounted to steel joists.
When asked about those features that made the various loudspeaker models a compelling choice for this project, Walker offered the following. “The D.A.S. Aero Series 2 loudspeakers were a great fit for the system scope of the building, and their acoustical performance was supported in EASE,” Walker explained. “Secondly, their small size was an asset with the weight load on the building structure and their visual appeal nicely complimented the building’s design. Equally important, they have a very warm, smooth sound. Speech intelligibility was a major concern in this building because of all its hard, reflective surfaces and no sound control. These speakers articulate very well, with clear, detailed voice reproduction while being very musical—with a tight, punchy low end.”
“The Artec 28’s are used to provide direct coverage to the mezzanine level when the space is used for athletic events,” Walker continued. “This is where the crowd would watch a track meet from. These loudspeakers are also used for fill to the area when the system is used for event purposes. These speakers were chosen for their coverage pattern, performance quality, and low profile aesthetic appeal. The Arco24T speakers provide zone sound for the locker rooms, bathrooms, and trainers’ room so that announcements, etc. can be heard throughout the facility.”
Walker was also very complimentary of D.A.S. Audio’s rigging hardware. “The D.A.S. rigging system is very well designed,” he said. “It’s very fast, easy to use, and adaptable. These qualities made it easy to suspend, take down, and re-hang the loudspeakers several times as we did—this being due to the boxes being painted to match the building’s interior color.”
After just over a month in service, Walker reports the project is a big success for all involved, “The room sounds terrific and we’ve received numerous compliments. This new facility is a very important addition to the Hillsdale College campus and I’m pleased to say that D.A.S. had our back every step of the way. The company’s support is amazing and was an important factor in the decision to use their equipment. With the D.A.S. sound system, the Margot V. Biermann Athletic Center is a first-class sports facility with equally impressive sound.”