Detroit’s 22,000-seat Palace of Auburn Hills opened in August 1988, and is reportedly one of the country’s top-grossing arenas of its size. The facility was voted Arena of the Year eight times by Performance magazine and presented with the same honor by Pollstar on two occasions.
KLA Laboratories Inc. (Dearborn, Mich.) is the Palace’s audio systems contractor. For a recent renovation, KLA worked with the Harman Pro Group and recommended that a full Harman system be specified, featuring JBL loudspeakers, more than 150,000 watts of Crown amp power and a 32-mono/4-stereo-channel Soundcraft Series Five mixing console.
Hosting basketball games, major concerts, conventions and other events, the Palace is booked more than 300 days a year, which presented a challenging installation timeline for KLA. “This meant that we had only a five-day window to tear out the pre-existing system and install an entirely new setup,” notes KLA president Matthew O’Bryan, whose family-owned business has been serving the Detroit area since 1929. “To accomplish that, we had to schedule crews around the clock. Any shipping delays or product failures out of the box would have absolutely killed us. But, thankfully, Harman Pro was extremely dependable in getting all of the products to us on time and in working order, and the whole project came off like an NBA slam dunk.”
The Series Five is housed in the venue’s sound room, located at the back of the upper level at mid-court across from the player benches. According to the arena’s sound engineer, Steve Conway, every channel on the new desk is being used—and some more than once. “One of the things that I love about this 36-channel board is that it’s really a 72-channel board because each mono input has both an A and B path,” he says. “That comes in very handy, seeing that even during regular basketball games, I have all of the channels filled up and still sometimes require additional inputs.
“The Series Five also has a ton of outputs, which is equally important because just about every audio signal on our property passes through this desk. In addition to providing the in-arena audio mix, I’m using a combination of matrix and aux outs to provide different feeds and mixes for everything from the TV and radio broadcasters to the parking lot and concourse speakers to recording and hearing impaired devices and a bunch of other things. The fact that each of the 12 aux sends is both pre/post and on/off-switchable is great for that, plus the EQ and metering are both extremely nice on this desk.”
Conway notes that he has been the man in the mixer’s chair for every Pistons and Shock game since he first started working at the Palace 10 years ago. “This means that I’ve heard ‘YMCA’ more times than anybody other than the Village People. And I’ve let the dogs out more times than anyone. But at least they’re a little less painful to let out with the Soundcraft; it’s a beautiful-sounding console.”
For more information, please go to www.soundcraft.com.