Electro-Voice line-array helps Akron University athletics beat winter weather
Practice makes perfect, the old saying goes, but practicing an outdoor sport can be problematic when you're just 40 miles south of Lake Erie in what is often referred to as Ohio's "snow belt." That's why the University of Akron Zips football team has a choice of two on-campus practice fields, one outside and one in the Louis and Freda Stile Athletics Field House. A full 120 yards including both end zones, the indoor field is the centerpiece of a major athletic facility for the public university, which serves over 29,000 students as part of the University System of Ohio. The building also includes a 300-meter 6-lane track surrounding the field, a sports medicine center, a strength and conditioning center, a golf putting green and bunker, and spectator seating for 1100. Originally built with no PA, it now also boasts a high-quality line-array sound system supplied by Electro-Voice and installed by AA Sound & Lighting of nearby Barberton, Ohio.
"The University was looking for a system that could be used for announcements, music, and emergency paging," says Ryan Durfee, who oversaw the installation for AA. "The system had to be able to keep up with the noise level of athletes and fans in a very large environment. And we had to cover the venue without placing any speakers directly above the field itself, which is used not only for football but also for baseball, soccer, and track practices. So we were looking for something compact but also loud."
Durfee says that it was natural that AA turn to Jason Jacquemain of regional Electro-Voice representatives C.L. Pugh & Associates of Brunswick, Ohio for design input on the project. "EV has a wide variety of speakers for almost any application, and we know EV quality from past events and other installations. Plus we've worked with Jason and the guys at EV for a while on installations. Jason designed the system and helped with support for initial set-up of the NetMax. He also was on site assisting with the final tuning of the system. And Stu Schatz from EV helped us with organizing the system and gave us helpful tips."
To cover the field without being directly above it, AA put together an XLD system from Electro-Voice's XLVC series of compact line arrays for installation. "We used eight XLD281s and eight XLD291s," Durfee says. "The wider-coverage 281s were perfect for the short throw, and the 291s gave us a narrower pattern to throw across the football field."
The single array is powered with 12,000 watts and weighs almost 900 pounds. It hangs from steel girders on steel aircraft cable with a safety ratio of 6:1. Each enclosure has two rear integrated hinge points to control the angles from 0-10 degrees, with the top enclosure starting at a 2 degree down-tilt and the final enclosure pointing 80 degrees down.
For the field house's bleachers, AA went with six Electro-Voice ZX3-PI-W 12-inch two-way full-range loudspeakers, with total power handling of 4800 watts. "The ZX3s are a great general purpose box," Durfee says, "and when we looked at the drawings and available spots to hang these for a bleacher system, they filled perfectly. The bleacher system can be tied into the video screen as well as to anything else from the main system."
Both the array and the bleacher system are powered by Electro-Voice CPS 2.12 Class-H power amplifiers, with system control and processing provided by an Electro-Voice NetMax N8000 digital matrix controller. "The NetMax is a user-friendly system that is very customizable but also secure from being broken by everyday users," Durfee says. "We're using it for crossover, delay for the bleachers when needed, general and specific EQ of the room, 6 in/14 out DSP, and programmable wall-mount control panels. It would not be possible to even fit into our rack the number of analog units it would take to properly do the functions of this one digital unit."
Durfee says that the installation "turned out very positively. We were able to get everything sounding great with minimal system EQ and zero problems that we couldn't solve in our installation time frame. I was on site for several of the first events with the customer, and they were extremely happy with everything."