ATLANTA, GEORGIA: Poised for a future playoff berth with a hopeful mixture of youth and experience, the Atlanta Braves finished the 2009 season with a respectable record and much to look forward to.
But for Turner Field, built originally
for the 1996 Olympics and the club's home ever since, 2009 marked the transition from possession of a dated sound system to possession of arguably the best system in major league baseball. Assailed by the elements, the old loudspeakers were showing signs of age, replaced by over four-hundred Danley loudspeakers with full weatherproofing, as well as customized rigging and coverage patterns to fit perfectly in the old speakers' places. Not only did Danley deliver extensive customization, it did so within an extremely short timeframe.
The original equipment had been in place for thirteen years and the loudspeakers were beginning to deteriorate. The Braves organization knew a replacement was necessary, and they wanted one that would provide noticeably higher sound quality than their existing system had been able to deliver. They hired local A/V design/build firm Baker Audio, with whom they had a longstanding relationship. In business for 56 years, Baker designed the sound system for Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, the stadium that helped lure the Braves to Atlanta in 1966. Baker vice president, Jason Hicks, served as point person on the project while Joe Kimsey served as project manager.
As part of its proposal, Baker had suggested that reusing the existing speaker rigging and (miles and miles of!) eight-gauge speaker wire would save money and time. The only potential trade-off was that they would need to find new speakers with rigging and coverage patterns to match. That seemed easy enough until the timeframe presented itself: a late October 2008 go-ahead with completion in time for the home opener in early April 2009.
"Danley really stepped up to the plate," said Hicks, intending no pun. "The folks from Danley came out to the stadium to provide a demo. We were impressed with the sound and the Braves organization was happy to hear an obvious improvement in fidelity. But, really, what sealed the deal was the turnaround time Danley promised given that all four hundred plus speakers would need weatherproofing, custom rigging, and custom paint. In addition, we would need some thirty speakers with custom coverage patterns because no off-the-shelf Danley products provided them."
Danley president, Mike Hedden, not only added custom rigging, but altered the long dimension of the SH-95 to fit," added Kimsey. "It was very involved. But with Danley's on-time delivery and accommodations, we were able to simply swap old speakers with new speakers. We did 422 speakers - installed and tested - in just 35 days. It was pretty amazing."
Turner Field's new sound system is comprised of 29 SH-46, 31 SH-25, 31 custom, and 331 SH-95 Danley loudspeakers. With narrow beam widths, the SH-25s fire down from the upper deck to cover seats near center field and home plate. Digital signage at the edge of intermediate levels prevented placing them any closer. The SH-46s cover the upper deck itself. The SH-95s cover the remainder, with the custom speakers filling those odd spaces where other choices would have led to double-coverage or under-coverage. In addition, modified Danley Genesis Horns (Danley's answer to the line array) at the first and third base side cover the field itself.
"The coverage is excellent," said Kimsey. "The Danley technology is controlled off-axis and really reduces the comb filtering that you almost expect in these sort of distributed overhead systems. Normally, when an announcer says something in these sorts of systems, you hear it multiple times. You might assume that it is the result of echoes, but most of it is simply multiple boxes hitting you with different delays. The Danleys don't have that problem."
In addition to the main bowl speakers, Baker replaced all of the 70-volt system throughout the interior of Turner Field, along with all of the power amps and processors. Some 787 Atlas Sound surface- and ceiling-mounted speakers make the transition from the bowl to the interior sonically seamless. One hundred forty QSC EL- and CX-series amps power the new Danley system, with QSC Basis units providing all of the front-end processing.
As a result of Turner Field, the Braves organization ordered Danley speakers for their brand new 10,000-seat Gwinnett Stadium in suburban Atlanta, home to the new Triple-A Gwinnett Braves affiliate. The new stadium features an historic feel with modern accommodations, along with a sound system designed and installed by Baker Audio. Over twenty Danley SH-100s provide fidelity and even coverage that puts other triple-A parks in the hole.
ABOUT DANLEY SOUND LABS Danley Sound Labs is the exclusive home of Tom Danley, one of the most innovative loudspeaker designers in the industry today and recognized worldwide as a pioneer for "outside the box" thinking in professional audio technology.www.danleysoundlabs.com