ALLENDALE, MICHIGAN – OCTOBER 2011: With a student body in excess of 24,000, Grand Valley State University (GVSU) in Allendale, Michigan is a major institution of higher education. Its football team is widely recognized as one of the fiercest competitors in the NCAA’s Division II, and it won the national championship in 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2006. It’s no surprise that football is a very big deal at GVSU, a fact reflected in the high-end accommodations of Lubbers Stadium, the school’s large (by Division II standards) football stadium. Its current capacity of 8,500 is regularly met and often wildly exceeded. At a home opener, over 14,000 fans crammed in to see the GVSU Lakers trounce Ferris State. When the school had finally had enough of Lubbers Stadium’s piecemeal audio system and the innumerable complaints it inspired, they hired ASCOM of Holland, Michigan
to replace it. After considering a first-rate line array from a very big loudspeaker manufacturer, Todd Billin, sales engineer for ASCOM, opted instead for a pair of the comparably priced, but vastly more effective, Danley Sound Labs Jericho Horn JH-90s.
“Lubbers Stadium has grown by bits and pieces over the last forty years,” explained Billin. “Every time they added more seats, they added more loudspeakers to cover those seats. But because there wasn’t always an optimal place to put those loudspeakers, the stadium ended up with a lot of crossed coverage patterns. What put the school over the edge were complaints from parents and alumni, who were getting inadvertently blasted by speakers meant for the students. All together, the coverage was extraordinarily uneven.” ASCOM started with a clean slate and recognized that the most cost-effective way to cover the horseshoe-shaped stadium would be to place loudspeakers at the open end of the horseshoe, where, conveniently, the scoreboard sits. A dual line array, with one array for each side of the horseshoe, was his reasonable first suggestion, but he also wanted to investigate Danley Sound Labs’ new Jericho Horn.
“I had heard about Danley’s Jericho Horn, but I found its spec sheet very hard to believe,” said Billin. “Moreover, there were stories floating around about giant stadiums, much larger than Lubbers, that were covered by just one Jericho Horn!” To satisfy his skeptical side, Danley Sound Labs invited Billin and Jeff VandeHoef (systems engineer) to its headquarters in Gainesville, Georgia, where the pair was treated to an outdoor demonstration. “We stood back as far as I could get – about 250 feet,” recalls VandeHoef. ” The JH-90 sounded like a high-end reference monitor located only a few feet away – and the bass was literally pounding us in the chest!”
When he got back to Michigan, ASCOM engineers modeled both the prospective line array and the Jericho Horn JH-90 in EASE. “Line arrays create interference between the components,” said Billin. “It’s a fact, but I can often work around it and live with it. However, when I compared the EASE models side-by-side, it was apparent that the JH-90’s complete lack of interference artifacts was going to yield a better sounding system at GVSU.” With the help of Danley’s Chad Edwardson (who also traveled to Allendale to help commission the system), it was determined that they could intentionally couple the two JH-90s in such a way that there would be a build-up of low frequency energy directed at the student section seating (right where it was needed!). When he considered the improved sound quality, the simplicity of placing two boxes atop the scoreboard (instead of somehow hanging a line array up there), and the similarity in cost between the two prospective systems, the balance was clearly in favor of the Danley Jericho JH-90.
With the help of Bob Brown, assistant director of facilities planning at GVSU, ASCOM custom-mounted the two fully weatherized Jericho Horn JH-90s to an I-beam and used a crane to hoist it into place. A Danley Sound Labs DSLP48 processor provides modest input conditioning and loudspeaker management, and fifteen ElectroVoice CPS 2.12 amplifiers provide power. “When we first fired it up, our system engineers were standing in the student section bleachers at the far end of the field,” said Billin. “They were amazed that the bleachers were resonating loudly with the bass from the Jerichos!” Chad Edwardson and Billin measured the SPL at the closest (~75 feet) and at the farthest (~350 feet) seats and found only 4dB difference!
Now GVSU has a sound system that more than rivals the two big Division I schools to its east. “All the other big systems in the state are loaded with subwoofers, but the bass response is still not all one might hope for,” said Billin. “These two Jericho Horns produce a tremendous amount of clean bass. They’re amazing. When the stadium facilities manager heard how fantastic it sounded, his mind raced ahead to the students’ reaction. He was less interested in the fact that they would love it than in what it might mean for the field he so tenderly cared for: he was guessing the students would want to hold concerts at Lubbers Stadium! And he was right, they could easily hold a raging concert with just the Two Jerichos!”
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