This year, sports fans headed to the Wells Fargo Center to take in games by the NBA Philadelphia 76ers, NHL Philadelphia Flyers, and AFL Philadelphia Soul will enjoy a significantly enhanced experience thanks to $250 million in upgrades underway at the arena as part of its “Transformation 2020” initiative. In addition to setting exceptional standards for the fan experience, this modern multi-use venue is now served by future-proofed, expandable AVB networking connectivity for the transmission of high-quality audio alongside system control and monitoring.
With new lounges boasting large-format video displays and other amenities already in place to help get Philly’s sports fanatics off their couches and back to the arena, the centerpiece of the venue’s renovation so far is its new L-Acoustics K2/K1-SB sound system. Designed by global technology solutions provider Diversified, headquartered in nearby Kenilworth, New Jersey, the system features significant input from sports-design consultant Wrightson, Johnson, Haddon and Williams (WJHW) of Dallas, Texas.
The Center’s new L-Acoustics system is comprised of two flown arrays of 12 K2 three-way, full-range enclosures covering each long side of the arena, plus four arrays of 13 K2 covering the ends and corners. Six arrays of four K1-SB subwoofers are flown in an end-fire configuration behind each K2 array to support low-end impact and offer enhanced LF directivity in the 20,000-seat venue. To further optimize performance, the subs are precisely spaced and time aligned to maximize both forward directivity and rear rejection of low frequencies.
The lightweight yet incredibly powerful K2/K1-SB system solves a major issue that all sports venues face today: the need to provide complete and consistent coverage and high SPL to each and every seat in the house while at the same time avoiding interference with sightlines to video screens.
“The L-Acoustics K2 system hit all of the main points for this project, like power and coverage, but the decision was also driven by budget, and L-Acoustics was able to provide the performance this installation needed within the project’s budget guidelines,” says Justo Gutierrez, Diversified’s Director of AV and Sound, Sports & Live Events. “But just as importantly,” he adds, “L-Acoustics was also the choice of the exceptionally knowledgeable Wells Fargo Center operations staff.”
In addition to the main arrays and subs, two arrays of ARCS WiFo enclosures are hung to provide coverage across the bowl floor, with each fill array composed of one ARCS Wide and three ARCS Focus enclosures. Three more hockey fill sources are used at the ends of the ice around the dasher boards, each comprising three ARCS Focus.
The full audio system is powered via 37 L-Acoustics LA12X amplified controllers and two LA4X, all integrated using Cisco Catalyst AVB-enabled network switches and the new L-Acoustics Q-SYS control plug-in on an Ethernet-based network. Arena staff can switch between dedicated setups for different game days and even trigger emergency evacuation messages with just the press of a button, courtesy of a customized Q-SYS control interface.
Wells Fargo Center’s AVB digital audio network can transmit high quality audio alongside system control and monitoring data, with no dropouts or degradation of media—even over long distances. Ease of use is ensured via a customized GUI, facilitating the use of the sound reinforcement system for highly intelligible PA/VA.
From the start, Diversified and its partners set about designing the sound system to both accommodate the current needs of the arena as well as its future requirements. For instance, plans for a new scoreboard—touted by venue owner Comcast Spectacor as “the first-ever Kinetic 4K center-hung entertainment system”—have recently been announced, and the K2 system design and installation would have to provide for that future addition.
That also applied to the K2 system’s deployment flexibility when the venue is used for activities beyond sports. The K2 and K1-SB arrays are flown in the arena on motorized hoists, and individual groups of speakers can now be quickly flown out to the grid or dropped back into play position to improve sightlines or support various venue configurations, unlike the arena’s previous dead-hung clusters.
The choice of the L-Acoustics K2 system furthermore reflects another key trend in the sports-venue sector: as arenas and stadiums are increasingly called on to host entertainment events as well as sports, those venues are making their audio system choices based on the same criteria that concert touring does—full-range musicality and clear intelligibility.
“The L-Acoustics K2 system is truly a concert sound system, and that’s what venue operators are looking for now,” says Gutierrez, who notes that the K1-SB subwoofers have brought exceptionally articulate and powerful low-end performance to the Wells Fargo Center. “Sports are being increasingly regarded as entertainment, and consumers’ expectations are changing as a result. They want concert-level sound in the stadiums and arenas, and L-Acoustics is one of a very few brands that can deliver that experience. Great sound is part of fan engagement, and L-Acoustics certainly scores big in that regard.”