Electro-Sound helps SBS win big in Texas high school stadium market
"The big thing for high school stadiums," says Brent Thornhill, sales manager for sound and communications at Southwest Building Systems (SBS) in Silsbee, TX, "is that not only do they want everything to be heard, but they want to feel the pre-game music and the half-time music all the way down to 60 Hz. Music and voice both have to come out loud and clear, so you need a loudspeaker that can handle a lot of SPL. You have to take into account those requirements and deliver a system that fits their needs." To do that, SBS developed a unique "X-treme Sound Box" enclosure that houses three Electro-Voice EVH-1152D/43 loudspeakers and provides both the power and the intelligibility to satisfy Texas's avid high school football fans.
SBS has been providing design and installation services in sound, security, and life safety for over 30 years, and has lots of experience meeting the needs of the high school market. "We've replaced plenty of older stadium systems," Thornhill says, "many of which were just old paging horns, which are basically like talking through a tin can."
SBS recently partnered with Texas Scoreboard Services (TSS), based in Conroe, which handles sales, service, and maintenance of video displays, marquees, and scoreboards for athletic facilities including for football stadiums, gymnasiums, and baseball/softball fields. By working together, the two companies are able to bid based on an integrated solution incorporating both signage and sound. "The customers now want an LED board that supports video features such as replays and advertising and is synced with the audio," Thornhill says. "The best way to make that work is to build your loudspeakers right onto the top of the board."
Rather than simply mounting the speakers on top of the scoreboard, which Thornhill says can create a sort of mouse ears effect, SBS decided to create a seamless solution, the XSB-10 X-treme Sound Box. "We build an enclosure with a printable mesh on front that allows you to put the home-team name up there," he says, "which allows us to dress the enclosure up to match the overall design of the scoreboard."
The enclosure of the XSB-10, which measures 4 feet high by 10 feet wide and four feet deep, is made of 12 gauge powder-coated steel and lined with dense insulation that reduces the interior temperature and dampens low frequency vibrations. In a typical configuration for football stadiums of up to 10,000 capacity, such as SBS recently installed at La Porte High School in La Porte Texas, the three EVH-1152D/43 loudspeakers inside are aimed at the home and visitor bleachers as well as the playing field.
"There are a few things that set the EVH apart from the other speakers we considered for this application," Thornhill says. "We wanted a single box that would produce full-range audio from 17 or 18 kHz all the way down to 60Hz, because there's no subwoofer. And we knew that we were going to have to project long distances, so we needed a speaker with a tight coverage pattern to concentrate the sound where we needed it to go."
"Most other manufactures didn't have loudspeakers capable of producing full-range sound at the required distance that would also fit within our enclosure dimensions," Thornhill continues. "EVH worked for us in all of those areas, especially with the beefier driver in the D series. And it is also part of a product line that includes great amps and great DSP. So with EV we basically got an all-in-one solution."
Each X-treme Sound Box system includes three CP4000S power amplifiers, one for each speaker in biamp mode, and a Dx46 two-in/six-out IRIS-Net sound system processor. "The Dx46 gives us EV's FIR filters for the EVH components," Thornhill says, "which means that we're able to produce very clear audio."
Thornhill says that the X-treme Sound Box installation at La Porte High School has been very well received. "The president of TSS, who has been involved with scoreboard installations for a long, long time," Thornhill says, "described the XSB-10 at La Porte as the best-sounding audio solution that he's ever heard in a small or mid-sized stadium. And our customer, the maintenance director for the school district's facilities, was also very, very pleased. He loves the fact that he has the high SPL that he had from the old horns, but now he has full-range sound and better intelligibility."
Thornhill says that while there's no one-size-fits-all solution for every stadium, the EVH-enabled Sound Box concept has won SBS some new fans. "There are a lot of factors that we take into account before recommending how to handle any given stadium or field," he says. "But the XSB-10 has turned out to be an excellent solution for La Porte. It worked out great, and we're already preparing to do four or five more for other high school stadiums this coming summer."