Electro-Voice EVA sound system brings clarity and power to TCU Coliseum
More than simply an on-court duel, a modern college basketball game is a multi-sensory event in which audio and video are deployed to fuel fan excitement and amplify the home-team edge. So when Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas decided to upgrade the sound system in its Daniel-Meyer Coliseum, home of the TCU Horned Frogs, it was clear that the new system would need to pack plenty of punch at every seat. But the arena is also used for commencements, banquets, exhibits, and other special events where intelligibility — always a challenge in reverberant arenas — is a key requirement. To deliver on both counts, TCU turned to Fort Worth's Electro Acoustics, Inc., who designed and installed a system built around the efficiency and performance of Electro-Voice's new EVA (Expandable Vertical Array) loudspeakers.
A longtime supplier of audio, video, and related systems to TCU, Electro Acoustics had actually supplied the arena's existing main and concourse sound systems nearly 20 years before. "Those were Electro-Voice systems, and had worked well and reliably," says Chris Jordan, Electro Acoustics' President and Chief Steward. "But the University was ready for a main system upgrade that could pump up the excitement level in the Coliseum and also improve speech clarity and articulation."
Jordan says the main sonic challenges in arena installations come down to high background noise and excessive acoustic reverberation. To deal with those issues, he says, "You need systems that are very controlled, so they don't put extraneous energy on the ceiling. You want everything focused on the listener, and line arrays do that very well."
Since launching at InfoComm 2009, EVA – part of the EV-Innovation family of installation-dedicated loudspeakers – has become one of the most talked-about loudspeaker lines in the business, offering a host of features that balance aesthetics, ease-of-use, value, and, of course, audio quality. Having used EVA systems in a number of recent successful house-of-worship installations, Jordan was eager to bring the same benefits to an arena setting. "We think the sound quality of EVA is every bit as good as any other line array we've used," he says. "When the EVA line first came out we did a shootout with another major-brand array. We had quite few people there, and while everybody agreed that either array would exceed customer expectations, the general consensus was that the high end was a little smoother on the EVAs. The performance of the EVA system is just outstanding."
With the sonic quality of EVA firmly established, Electro Acoustics was able to take advantage of what really sets the arrays apart – the extraordinary efficiency that the 16-ohm elements enable in a system's overall design. "Typically, each power amplifier and DSP output can only be used for one or maybe two modules in an array," Jordan explains. "But with the EVA system there are passive jumpers right on the loudspeaker that allow you to set the overall attenuation of the speaker and also the individual attenuation of a high-frequency driver. So you have quite a bit of control, but since all these adjustments are made passively at the speaker instead of in the digital processor, you can feed the array from a single DSP output and power it with just one high-powered amplifier."
The result, Jordan says, is a "huge savings in the cost of processor outputs and power amplifiers required for a system. If your array would have needed six 500-watt amps, instead you can use a single 3000-watt amp. At TCU, using EVAs saved more than $75,000 compared to any other brand-name line array system."
The main Coliseum system consists primarily of six arrays in an outward-facing circle, each comprised of a set of six dual-element line array modules: three EVA-2082S 906, two EVA-2082S 126, and one EVA-2082S 1220. Passive jumper settings for each module were determined in the project's design phase using Electro-Voice's LAPS II line array prediction program. "EV's tech support team provided both LAPS and EASE modeling for the project," Jordan says, "and the actual measurements came out extremely close to what was predicted."
Jordan describes the overall design as a collaborative effort between Electro Acoustics and Electro-Voice, with peer review provided by Gary White of Wrightson, Johnson, Haddon & Williams (WJHW) in Dallas. "EV was very involved. We sent them blueprints and said that we'd like to consider trying EVA on this project. They suggested the number and types of boxes, and then we chose the speaker placement that would work best considering installation and ongoing service. Because the arrays provide very focused energy to the seats, with very little to the ceiling and floor, you can hear a substantial improvement in speech articulation."
For low-end, the mains are supplemented by a single array of eight XLC 215 dual 15-inch subwoofers. Electro-Voice tech support calculated time offsets to adjust the polar pattern of each element to provide even bass energy distribution from the floor to the top of the seats. The delay is provided by an Electro-Voice NetMax N8000-1500 digital matrix controller, which uses an Electro-Voice IRIS-Net network to control the main system's 12 Electro-Voice P3000RL power amplifiers.
The N8000-1500 also provides audio routing, DSP, remote control, and status monitoring for the entire facility, including Electro-Voice EVH two-way coaxial full-range loudspeakers at the bottom of the scoreboard, Electro-Voice front fill and monitor speakers, and the existing system of Electro-Voice wall-mount speakers in the concourse. "With NetMax we are able to set all the gain, EQ, and limiting from inside one software program," Jordan says. "And it has a 12-inch color touch-screen panel that allows you to control everything from the input level of the REV wireless mics to the system configuration presets for different events such as games, commencement, and banquets. When we did our training with the facility staff, everyone was really surprised at how simple that panel makes it to operate the system."
With the system now fully commissioned and ready for action, Jordan is enthusiastic about the decision to rely on EVA in an arena setting. "We've put in a lot of line arrays from a lot of different brands," he says, "and the sound quality of this EVA system is just exceptional. And there was a tremendous cost saving to the client compared to a typical line array system. So with a big cost saving and great performance, using EVA allowed us to give TCU a lot more bang for the buck."