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May 17, 2011 11:24 AM, by Dan Daley

How BYU integrated a multi-facility system.

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The college that prays together stays together.
At least, that simple aphorism is part of what was behind a new Event Center facility that’s the core of Brigham Young University Idaho’s (BYUI) new multi-purpose facility for its new campus in Rexburg, Idaho. Officially known as the BYU-Idaho, the three-year ground-up construction project offers a massive gymnasium with 10 3/4-sized basketball courts and a 15,000-seat auditorium, with separate and complex sound systems for each space.

The auditorium’s size was based on the maximum number of students and faculty that the entire campus can accommodate in order to bring them together for the Mormon school’s traditional Tuesday devotional services. These had been held in a smaller 4,300-seat building on campus and then broadcast on the school’s fiber-cabled AV distribution system to seven other campus venues. That was an effective use of AV technology, but still not the same thing as being together for an intensely spiritual institution. “It’s a very big project that was based on that premise, but that gives you an idea of how important that gathering is to the school,” says David Mann, BYU-Idaho Center’s mixer and audio engineer.

The Gymnasium

The school gets a lot of use out of the 434,000-square-foot center. In addition to basketball, the 97,000-square-foot gym is used for tennis, volleyball, indoor soccer, as well as educational presentations and the first dance. That side of the building, separated by a large foyer from the auditorium, has four portable racks on carts each fitted with an Alesis iMultimix 9R mixer with an integrated iPod dock, a Tascam CD-01U Pro CD player, and a mic input panel. These can be connected to any of four inputs that feed the gym’s PA system. This is comprised of a Yamaha DME64N digital mixing engine and divided into 10 zones of Electro-Voice SX300Pi loudspeakers, which are configurable and controlled via a Crestron TPMC-12LB touchscreen that interfaces with the DME 64N to feed Yamaha PC4801N power amplifiers. However, there are no acoustical barriers, only curtains to separate the courts visually. When the gym is used in a divided mode, zones will overlap, which requires that levels be kept relatively low. Mann says the gym’s sound system is more intended to address possible future needs rather than any specific current ones, but he says that it has performed well the few times it has been use since the facility opened in January.

The Auditorium

The BYU-Idaho Center’s much larger (337,000 square feet) auditorium is a full stage-house theater—and its sound system is also far more complex—in response to the building’s interior architectural design. In a combined point-source and distributed design using Yamaha’s Nexo systems components, three main L-C-R clusters hang in front of the 105’x70’ stage. Left and right arrays house 18 GEO D10 speakers in each cluster, configured such that at the bottom of each array, a Nexo S1230 side-fill fires downward, a design to address the auditorium’s enormous fan-shaped design. The center array consists of 14 Geo D10 cabinets, with four S1210s as down-fills paired on each side of the cluster. There are four Nexo GEOSUB subwoofers at the top of each cluster. “The sub frequency cabinets are positioned at the top of each cluster, and the D10 boxes are precisely aimed downward to suit maximum evenness of coverage in the vertical plane,” says Andy Prager, senior project engineer at Diversified Systems, the systems integrator on the project. “There was concern about placing the subs at such a high elevation in this large volume open space, [since] there’s a lot of air to push. So it was decided to add subs to the design, where under certain circumstances—such as amplified music performances—dual-stacked Geo Subs could be rolled out on each side of the stage, using separate mix outputs from the DiGiCo SD7 console. Since both flown and stage subs have discrete mix output channels from the console, the mix engineer can use faders as a gas pedal to suit sub-frequency gain requirements.”

While music is one of the applications for the auditorium, as well as theater performances and large group meetings, the overriding mandate for the systems’ performance was that its speech quality be highly intelligible since its primary mission was the weekly devotional services. “The challenge was to get even and highly intelligible coverage throughout the entire auditorium, despite there being some architectural challenges,” says Prager, with a goal set of ±2dB variation within the space, there is no more than ±3dB variation in level with frequency response up to 12Khz. These included the raked angle calipers on the sides and two jutting balconies necessary to accommodate 15,000 seats into the space.

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