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JBL VLA Line Arrays See Growing Adoption In Recent Stadium And Arena Installations

With a growing number of stadiums and arenas upgrading their audio/video systems, systems integrators are increasingly turning to JBL VLA Series loudspeakers to achieve line array performance in fixed-install applications. Designed specifically for permanent installation applications where even coverage, high intelligibility, and very high sound-pressure levels are required, the JBL VLA Series line arrays are based on the same advanced engineering used in JBL’s VERTEC® Series line array systems.

Series includes six large format horn-loaded modules with three horizontal horn coverage patterns (30, 60 and 90 degrees) in both mid-power and high-power configurations. This modular horn-loaded concept incorporating JBL’s Precision Directivity® series technology provides system designers additional flexibility to vary the horizontal pattern within a vertical array. This can be achieved by incorporating different modules with wider or narrower coverage patterns while still maintaining consistent vertical directivity.
“JBL developed the VLA series with systems integrators in mind, building on the proven success of the VERTEC line array series and Precision Directivity series,� said Brad Ricks, Senior Application Engineer, JBL Professional. “The pro AV market has responded, with some of the world’s most successful systems integration firms installing VLA loudspeakers for permanent installations requiring high-impact sound reinforcement at throw distances beyond the reach of traditional loudspeaker designs.�
Lucas Oil Stadium
In time for the 2008-09 National Football League season, systems integration firm ESCO Communications completed the installation and commissioning of a sound system at Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts. Consulting firm WJHW designed the system, which features JBL VLA line array clusters powered by Crown CTs Series amplifiers, existing on a Harman Professional HiQnet™ network and controlled via HiQnet System Architect™.
Featuring a unique retractable roof that makes it ideal for indoor and outdoor events, Lucas Oil Stadium seats 63,000 for football but can accommodate thousands more for basketball, conventions, concerts and other applications. The stadium covers 1.8 million square feet, features 137 corporate suites, two club lounges, meeting rooms, and two exhibit halls. The sound system is designed to be versatile and high performing. It comprises eight JBL Professional VLA line array clusters powered by Crown CTs series amps for football application. In other applications where additional sound reinforcement is required for field coverage, six clusters of 12 JBL Professional VERTEC® VT4888DPAN midsize powered line array loudspeakers with DrivePack® technology, drop down from the stadium roof. Crown PIP-USP3CN modules installed in the CTs Series amplifiers provide EQ, level control, delay and signal.
As the JBL Professional VERTEC and VLA line arrays and the Crown CTs Series amplifiers are HiQnet-enabled, system designers employed HiQnet System Architect to custom design master control panels to manage the
configuration, operation and monitoring of up to 438 devices in a single venue file. System Architect provides a highly customizable, ultra-intuitive interface and allows recall of pre-programmed configurations for different applications from concerts to basketball games to conventions.
Bank of America Stadium
In another NFL application, SE Systems installed an upgraded audio system at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina, home to the Carolina Panthers. Brawley and Associates designed the scoreboard system, which now features JBL VLA line arrays.
The audio upgrade at Bank of America Stadium was part of a $12 million overhaul to the stadium’s entire audio/video system, and included the installation of new LED high-definition scoreboard displays. In designing the sound system to accompany the scoreboard, James S. Brawley and Associates needed loudspeakers that would match the power of a large HD display. “We needed a PA system that would not only provide high output to the entire stadium, but would also offer excellent pattern control and clarity,� said company founder James S. Brawley.
To meet this need, SE Systems installed a total of four line arrays, containing JBL VLA line array elements: two arrays each containing six VA301H-WRC 3-way loudspeakers (featuring a 30-degree horizontal coverage pattern), and another two arrays each containing six VLA601H-WRC 3-way loudspeakers (which feature a 60-degree horizontal coverage pattern). Additionally, 24 JBL Control 29AV surface-mount loudspeakers provide supplemental fill underneath the scoreboard.
RBC Center
Two hundred miles east in Raleigh, North Carolina, Clair Brothers Systems recently upgraded the audio system at the RBC Center, home to the Carolina Hurricanes of the National Hockey League and the North Carolina State University men’s basketball team. The Center’s new system features a combination of JBL VLA and VERTEC line arrays, as well as Application Engineered® (AE) series loudspeakers.
The arena seats 19,722 for basketball and 18,680 for hockey, including 75 luxury suites and 2,000 club seats. The arena also hosts numerous other events, ranging from WWE contests to rock concerts. According to Jim Devenney, Senior Audio Designer, for Clair Brothers, the audio system at the RBC Center was due for an overhaul. “The system originally installed in the building had lots of clusters and lots of overlap that degraded the system’s intelligibility,� he said. “The system was also underpowered for the events the arena was used for, particularly the Hurricanes and NC State basketball. The goals of the new system were to alleviate those problems and to give the customer the ability to zone the system for different event seating situations.�
For this combination of power and flexibility, Clair Brothers installed a system that consisted of eight arrays each containing 10 VLA901 loudspeakers flown along the dasher board line, and two arrays each containing four VLA601 loudspeakers for basketball floor fills. Additionally, four arrays each containing six VT4880A arrayable subwoofers provide support. Five AM6212 loudspeakers were installed in the scoreboard for center floor/ice fill, while 24 AM4212 loudspeakers were installed for very upper seat delay fill.
“The coverage of the arena with the eight VLA arrays is excellent and the VT4880A subwoofers give the system an extra dynamic and fullness quality,� Devenney said. “The two VLA601 clusters do an excellent job of filling in the floor from the basketball court to the hockey dashers at the ends of the arena.�
Vaught-Hemingway Stadium
On the college football front, Daktronics recently upgraded the sound system at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, home to the University of Mississippi football team in Oxford. The audio upgrade is part of a $6 million overhaul that includes the largest high-definition video display in the NCAA Southeastern Conference.
Home to the Ole Miss Rebels since 1915, Vaught-Hemingway Stadium holds more than 62,000. As part of the Southeastern Conference (SEC), Ole Miss faces some of the top college football programs each year. With the addition of the large high-definition LED screen before the 2008 football season, an equally powerful audio system was needed.
To that end, Daktronics designed and installed an end-zone system consisting of 12 JBL VLA601H line array loudspeakers configured in left-right hangs of six loudspeakers each. The system is supplemented by two JBL PD743 loudspeakers and two PD5212/64 loudspeakers. Crown I-Tech amplifiers power the system, which is configured via the Harman HiQnet System Architect platform.
“We needed a powerful system that was also highly controllable,� said Doug Dodge of Daktronics. “The VLA loudspeakers fit the bill and they have performed terrifically since we completed the installation.�
Rose Garden
Turning to the National Basketball Association, AVI-SPL recently oversaw the redesign of the audio system at the Rose Garden, home of the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers. AVI-SPL installed a system featuring six JBL VLA line array clusters. The two side arrays are each comprised of eight VLA901 loudspeakers, while the four corner arrays each include six VLA601 and two VLA901 array modules.
The redesign of the audio system at the Rose Garden was a part of a major capital improvements project that included a new video scoreboard, powered by a state-of-the-art HD control room. The improvements also included a facelift of the Rose Garden’s main concourses, restaurants, party suites, as well as upgraded LED stats boards and auxiliary scoreboards.
To meet these heightened entertainment standards, AVI-SPL needed a loudspeaker system that would provide powerful, controlled sound while retaining a visually discrete appearance. “If we had gone with a central cluster approach, the scoreboard would not have been able to recess all the way into the ceiling,� said Nathan Thomas, of AVI-SPL. “We needed the scoreboard and loudspeakers to be located completely above the rigging points on the low steel frame so they could hold different kinds of events that used other rigging points.�
“We chose the VLA loudspeakers knowing that we would need a highly controllable system,� said Nathan Thomas of AVI-SPL. “The VLA’s offer that controllability, and the well-defined horizontal coverage angles drove us to ultimately go with that product.�