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Legoland Pyrotechnics Fire Up Crowds with Shure Wireless Audio Soundtrack

Dec 28, 2006 8:00 AM

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With a colorful family playground filled with more than 50 rides, shows, and attractions, Legoland California is nestled within this seaside town in a unique landscape that serves as a life-size expression of blueprints you may well find in an actual Lego building-brick manual.

Once inside the theme park, visitors wind their way along paths leading in numerous directions. A stroll through the Imagination Zone challenges children to devise new, creative Lego designs. Turn a corner, and Miniland USA replicates familiar cities in 1:20 scale using a staggering 20-million Lego bricks. Travel a little further, and you wind up in Fun Town, where youngsters longing to be big live out their dreams in a scaled-down environment made just for them.

Not all that long ago during a series of "block party" events, days ended at Legoland with an explosive fireworks display. Choreographed against a musical DVD soundtrack developed by Legoland show technician Paul Beach, the aerial show painted the heavens in front of crowds gathered at a dedicated main stage, as well as a satellite viewing area located at the park's entrance. Bringing the audio track to the main stage was no problem, but as Beach set forth to send his stereo feed to the entrance area, he was met with a number of obstacles.

"First and foremost, the loudspeaker runs were just impossible for cable mainly because of the labyrinth of routing required," he recalls. "However, I had successfully experimented with wireless audio on the main stage in some places, so left with no other real option for the entrance, I decided to expand upon that same idea and chart an audio path through the park directly as the crow flies with the help of Quiet Voice Audio out of Fallbrook, Calif., and Mike Cromer of Audio Geer."

A musician who played bass with the '60s vocal group The Mamas & the Papas and other chart-topping bands of the era, Beach still performs professionally today. No stranger to in-ear personal stage monitors as a result, he was familiar with the Shure PSM700 system Quiet Voice and Mike Cromer suggested he use to solve his dilemma in an innovative and unorthodox fashion.

Having installed a pair of two-way, Mackie SRM450 loudspeakers at the entrance to serve his intended area of coverage, Beach mounted a PSM700 receiver inside of a Pelican dry box and attached it to the side of one of the self-powered enclosures. Standard cable was connected to the receiver to link it with the loudspeakers. Using paddle antennas at both the receiver and transmitter ends, he had no trouble sending quality sound over 1,000ft. across a section of park inhabited with a fair share of added RF signals, trees, buildings, and other obstacles.

"You know, I was pleasantly surprised when we first tried the system," Beach freely admits. "It cut right through. I was expecting to hear a severe amount of companding, and figured my signal would really be squashed, but that wasn't the case at all. Running the volume at about 75 percent, I had plenty of headroom, and it was plenty loud. We had no problem holding crowds. If you think about it, what we created was a giant set of earbuds. For the 400-500 people who gathered nightly at the spot, the sound was ideal."

Based upon the success of the design, Beach is already dreaming of other wireless schemes he can implement at Legoland. "Just wait ‘til I go digital," he says. "That's when the real fireworks will begin."

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