MAD Productions scores hat trick with Electro‑Voice EVID & ZX loudspeakers at Gateway Ice Centre

July 26, 2013

Canadians love hockey. Put a couple of thousand of them in front of an ice hockey game and you can count on some serious noise. So sound reinforcement for Canadian hockey rinks — not just at big-team arenas but at  community- and youth-oriented facilities as well — requires systems with enough power to cut through the roar and also with the exceptional clarity and pattern control needed to maintain intelligibility in a highly-reflective environment.

That’s why MAD Productions of Stoney Creek, Ontario selected ZX series loudspeakers from Electro-Voice to outfit Stoney Creek’s three-rink Gateway Ice Centre, a newly-constructed, community-oriented skating center that has been selected to host the 2014 Esso Cup national women’s hockey tournament. MAD Productions handled the system design and installation, and also chose Electro-Voice for the facility’s in-house restaurant and ancillary spaces, using EVID ceiling and surface-mount commercial loudspeakers.
“Our client had heard and liked EV ZX5s in other rinks, and they wanted similar sound quality.”

Of the three rinks at the privately-owned Gateway, two are regulation NHL-sized surfaces and the third is a slightly smaller “community size.” All three rinks are intended for year-round use. “The main rink, Rink 1, can seat 2200 hundred fans and will be used for most of the hockey games,” says Michael Di Berardo, who handled the project from the MAD Productions side. “The two other rinks will also be used for ice rentals for hockey, with the third rink having figure skating as well.” These two rinks will each accommodate about 400 spectators.

ZX series for three rinks

For Rink 1, Di Berardo says, the client’s requirement was for “good, clean, clear sound that would be loud enough to be heard by everyone when the stands are full. And they wanted to be sure there would be no feedback when anthems are being sung.” There was no opportunity to experiment with different designs in an existing room, he adds, “because the facility was only a shell when the system was designed, so we were working off of blueprints and it was a challenge to get a picture of what acoustic issues might arise when the room was completed.”

Luckily both MAD Productions and the client were familiar with how well Electro-Voice ZX5 loudspeakers could work in a skating rink environment. “Our client had heard and liked EV ZX5s in other rinks, and they wanted similar sound quality. And we really like the ZX series because of the versatility of the entire line and the quality/value ratio for each speaker. In fact we prefer to use EV in general, based on factors such as sound quality, build quality, ease of use, product and design support, and value. I’ve always loved the sound of EV speakers.”

In all, 14 ZX5s are distributed around Rink 1. “The ZX5s were an easy sell,” Di Berardo says. “They are an excellent cabinet and an incredible value for what they are and can do. The molded shell is durable and compliments the arena environment visually, the rigging points are easy to manage, the clarity and bi-ampability contributes to the overall sound quality, and the components are tour grade, which ensures overall quality of the product. The ability to bi-amp helped us deal with feedback and sound delay concerns.”

With the bulk of the budget allocated to Rink 1, where the Esso Cup games will be played, Rinks 2 and 3 required a different approach. “These rooms are primarily for community hockey,” Di Berardo says, “but the Gateway wanted a better sound system than traditionally found in community-type rinks. They also wanted the sound concentrated on the ice surface for figure skaters and men's hockey leagues, so we went with a four-box center cluster design in each room. We used the ZX4, which is a passive model equipped with components a grade down from ZX5 – it provides the ideal performance level for this particular space. It’s a great-sounding box at a really good value. And it uses the same rigging hardware and Neutrik inputs as the ZX5s.”

EVIDs for commercial spaces

In addition to skating, the building also houses a separately-operated business: a Don Cherry’s Sports Grill franchise restaurant. MAD Productions handled the sound system design and installation for the restaurant, which is on the second floor and overlooks the main rink through a wall of glass. “Being a sports bar/restaurant, the volume has to be higher than in a traditional restaurant,” Di Berardo says. “So we designed a low-impedance system that is controlled by an EV DC-One sound system processor, which we use to limit the volume while maintaining the quality requested by the client. The DC-One is perfect for that application.”

A total of 26 EV EVID series speakers were used throughout, with ceiling speakers inside the restaurant and surface-mounted speakers in the hallway/foyer (EVID 4.2v) and outside the restaurant/in the patio area (EVID 6.2). “Both the ceiling and surface-mount EVIDs provide excellent quality at an excellent value,” Di Berardo says. “They have a clear, clean sound which will project in the entire restaurant without producing distortion. We have previously installed EVIDs in other restaurants and clients love them.”

With the Gateway Ice Centre now up and running, Di Berardo says the installation “turned out fabulously. All three rinks sound fantastic, and Rink 1 is the best-sounding rink of its size in the region. The music and the mic can be heard clearly everywhere, including all seated areas, as well as the standing areas. Our client is very pleased. In fact, when we first turned the system on, one of the owners plugged in his iPod, cranked the system, and listened to the entire song "Who Are You" by The Who while standing in the middle of the ice with his eyes closed. Those are the moments that make installations worthwhile.”

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