Electro‑Voice Rides High at Wrangler National Finals Rodeo

February 2, 2011

In professional rodeo, staking a claim as the best of the best means taking the ring at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, held each December at the 19,000 seat Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). Culminating each year’s rodeo season, the Wrangler NFR is the premier championship rodeo event in the United States, with 21 events and performances over 17 days. Participants compete for the largest rodeo prize money in the world, and winners can walk away with not only a coveted golden belt buckle, but also in excess of two hundred thousand dollars. With plenty of dirt, sweat, and noise, the high stakes are about all the event shares with the glitz of the gaming tables a few miles down the road.

Keeping the excitement pumped up at the NFR for both announcing and live entertainment was an Electro-Voice sound system provided by rodeo audio specialists LD Systems of Houston. The system was manned by LD’s Bill Johnson, Rudy Guillen, and Darreld Yost. “This system was originally purchased to provide audio for the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo,” Johnson says, “which is the six-time consecutive winner of the annual Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association award for large indoor rodeo.”

“We’ve had a great track record with our EV system, and once again its performance proved worthy of the most highly regarded rodeo in the world, the WNFR!”

The system was based on four center-hung line arrays, each at 90 degrees to the next to cover the arena’s 360-degree seating area. Each array was made up of three XLC215 dual 15-inch subwoofer line-array elements over eight XLC127DVX compact full-range elements. The system was powered by 32 Electro-Voice TG7 amplifiers, using FIR filters to optimize the audio feed to the characteristics of the loudspeaker components.

Overall system processing and routing was handled by a pair of Electro-Voice NetMax N8000-1500 controllers. “The NetMax units provided us with multiple matrix sends for various areas,” Johnson says, “including ESPN's audio for broadcast, in-house Red Vision for video archiving, sound for the adjacent Pavilion, auxiliary sends to the building, and a 70-volt distributed system out back for the contestants.”

The amplifiers and controllers were configured and operated via a wireless tablet using Electro-Voice’s IRIS-Net software. “The separate template pages setup for the TG7 amplifiers and the NetMax controllers made it easy to adjust shading levels and delays,” Johnson says.

Johnson explains that the highest sound priority for this and similar events is to “maintain articulation and coherency to every person in the audience, with enough energy to provide live impact.” Limited rigging options at the Thomas & Mack Center compounded the challenge.

“With three XLC215s on top of eight XLC127s,” Johnson says, “the arrays had to point upwards five degrees to cover the upper bowl. Using EV's LAPS (Line Array Prediction) software, we were able to predict and correct the upward lobing of the sub coverage. We delayed the lower two sub boxes and then delayed the XLC127s to the corrected sub alignment. As a result we were able to get 107 dB of sub energy in the room, while holding the A-weighted average to 98 dB so we wouldn’t offend the family-oriented audience.”

Another challenge of the event, Johnson adds, is “fitting the entire sound system, lighting, and rigging into one semi and keeping it under 80,000 pounds. Luckily the TG7 amps and XLC cabinets are compact and lightweight, allowing us to meet these demands. We’ve had a great track record with our EV system, and once again its performance proved worthy of the most highly regarded rodeo in the world, the WNFR!”

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