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Audio in the End Zone at Texas Christian University, Part 1

Jan 10, 2012 2:20 PM

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Editor’s note: For your convenience, this transcription of the podcast includes timestamps. If you are listening to the podcast and reading its accompanying transcription, you can use the timestamps to jump to any part of the audio podcast by simply dragging the slider on the podcast to the time indicated in the transcription.

Designing a total sound system upgrade for Amon G. Carter Stadium at Texas Christian University was a big job and Acoustic Dimensions pulled it off successfully. Casey Sherred and Brian Elwell of Acoustic Dimensions are here to tell us how they did the complete sound system upgrade with JBL speakers and Crown amps, coming right up on the SVC Podcast.

SVC: Casey and Brian from Acoustic Dimensions, thanks for being with us on the SVC Podcast and we’re talking about a big installation out in Texas Christian University’s Amon G. Carter Stadium. All JBL line arrays and a lot more of their things involved in this. You also used a lot of Crown amps and we’ll talk about those, but first tell me a little about Acoustic Dimensions.

Elwell: Well this is Brian and Acoustic Dimensions has been around since, I think, 1992. I joined the company in January of ’97. Casey joined the company in…

Sherred: January of 2001

Elwell: …2001, so I’ve been there it’ll be 15 years, and Casey’s been here going on ten years now. So in that time we started off, I think, I was the sixth employee in the Dallas office and now we’ve got over 26 employees here in Dallas and we also have a San Diego office. At the time I joined, there was a New York office and we’ve got an office in the U.K. [Timestamp: 1:55]

And from the looks of this, you’ve got more than enough to keep all of those people busy.

Elwell: Well, that’s the hope. Yes, we’re able to keep these people busy, and I think that we really like the kind of projects that we work on. They’re high profile; they’re exciting, they involve high-level technology, and they’re a lot of fun to work on. [Timestamp: 2:18]

And you can’t get much more high profile than a university football stadium and this one was in for a major overhaul, particularly the sound system. And you guys were called in so at what point did Acoustic Dimensions get into this project?

Elwell: Well, you know, I think I want to say that it actually was not that the sound system that they had previously was bad; it was a fairly recent upgrade. The problem was that they were tearing the entire stadium down and along with that came the demolition of the existing speaker system. So it was an entirely new stadium design, which required the new speakers. And we came on the project, it was just before schematic design was being wrapped up, so in essence, it was fairly early on in the project. [Timestamp: 3:09]

Well, that sure helps.

Elwell: Yes it does. [Timestamp: 3:11]

When you get in on the ground floor and maybe have some influence over some things that you can see coming that might be a problem later and sing out about it at the beginning.

Elwell: Yeah, there were some times where you are able to make some adjustments being there early on. There were some other things that tend to drive the look of the stadium that you can’t change no matter what point that you come into the project. [Timestamp: 3:34]

So you started with the idea of the distributed system and then went with the end zone system.

Elwell: Actually what we did, we came into the stadium with an open mind in terms of what is the best system we could design. And as we evaluated the distributed versus the end zone, we ran into concerns about the distances from where the distributed speakers could be located versus how far they needed to throw, and the ratios were too great. It was going to be too loud underneath the speakers and not loud enough at the far end. So based on that, our original concept was an end-zone system. From there, the university was thinking that they have heard distributed systems; they really liked it; they wanted us to take another hard look to see if there was any way that we could get a distributed system in there. So we then scrapped the end-zone design and started looking at a distributed system, and we still were faced with the same distance problems, but what we ended up doing was we were looking at using line arrays and high cue boxes—things that would throw a lot of energy down to the farthest seats and not be too loud for people underneath, and we felt that we came up with a decent design that would have worked. About that time, TCU got a new athletic director who for the reason that he did not like these big speakers on the precast spaces wanted us to go back and look at the end-zone design, and there are actually some things that helped the end-zone design to make it a little more cost effective and a little better in that the scoreboard was raised in elevation. It got pushed further back. There were just things that started to happen that made it a little more appealing at that time. So really felt that the design, it started off with an end zone went to distributed and then got switched back to an end zone, and that’s what’s in there now. [Timestamp: 5:57]

Well, that can happen quite a bit when you get more people and more influences coming from different directions into the mix. But on a big project like a stadium, depending on what point it comes along, that could really make a substantial difference in the time and cost of the whole thing. But you seemed to have handled it pretty well. From what I’ve seen here, the stadium sound system seems to have gotten good reviews. Now, how far is it from the amps to the speaker arrays on this? What sort of cable runs do you have there?

Sherred: Well, the speakers—the main clusters, main arrays—flank the video scoreboard, and the amp rooms for each of those arrays on the left and right are directly below in the support of the scoreboard structure, so all these runs are less than 100ft. for the main speakers. There’s some delay speakers that get a little further than that—maybe 200ft. run, but were not dealing with really, really long runs on the main speaker system. [Timestamp: 6:54]

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