Reno, NV, February 9, 2015: Located on the northern portion of University of Nevada’s Reno (UNR) campus, Mackay Stadium is the principal venue for the University’s football and soccer events. The stadium, which was originally constructed in 1966 and has been subject to many renovations over its nearly 50 year history, is host to the Nevada Wolf Pack football program and also the venue of choice for many other events, including the women’s soccer team and Special Olympics. Recently, Sparks, NV-based Pro AV & Electronics, was chosen to upgrade Mackay Stadium’s aging audio system, which was reaching end of life and experiencing intermittent performance issues. The installation, which was completed in September, was anchored around Powersoft amplification.
Mackay Stadium, which has a seating capacity of 30,000 and average attendance of around 26,000 people, is situated within an extremely demanding climatic environment. In the Nevada desert, temperatures can be punishing during the start of the Fall football season, and inside the Mackay Stadium equipment closet situated under the north scoreboard, temperatures often exceed 100 degrees fahrenheit. In 2012, Pro AV was called in to perform a full system analysis of the venue and to prepare the audio system for a new decade of University of Nevada sports fans.
“When we were contacted in 2012, we assisted UNR with a DSP swap out and also began helping them with a system roadmap as they were planning for their current system’s end of life — and amplifiers were an important part of that roadmap,” said Nathan Barlow of Pro AV & Electronics. “During the first game in 2014, some of the old amplifiers experienced failures, resulting in audible drop outs during the game. We had been using Powersoft K and M-Series amplifiers for a long time and were aware of their low power consumption and high output / high performance. So we didnt’ hesitate to recommend Powersoft for this installation.”
Too Much Heat in the Kitchen
Barlow explains that one of the biggest issues they were facing was a lack of air conditioning or cooling system within the control room, where he says temperatures had reached up to 115 degrees. “The first football games of every season are in the first part of September, right at the tail end of summer when temperatures are still extremely high. So we really needed a solution that had a low power consumption requirement and low heat dispersion. We cherry picked the amplifiers that would fit such a profile, and Powersoft was at the top of the list.”
Since the stadium was experiencing failures after the season had already begun, Barlow and his team knew they needed a reliable solution that could be swapped in before the next home game — which was to occur in two weeks. As a test, they brought in (4) Powersoft Ottocanali 1204s — replacing (12) pre-existing 3U space units — and decided to try running the entire system off of a single 20 amp circuit. “We wanted to know if we could,” quips Barlow. The result was astounding to him and his team: “Our experiment gave us all the assurance we could have wanted. We were not pushing those Powersoft amps anywhere near their capacity, and each amplifier in our previous system would draw anywhere between 11 and 17 amps during game time.”
Given the limited control room space Pro AV had to work with, the small footprint and high output of Powersoft amplifiers factored heavily into their decision: “When we discovered we could get (8) channels in a 2U rack space at such a high wattage per channel, it was no brainer to jump on it,” Barlow says. Another key factor was reliability: “We needed a bulletproof unit,” he says. “The control room is a cinder block building that is constantly exposed to the heat, and there is very little insulation or ventilation. I already knew the Powersoft units were reliable and would stand up to the challenge.”
Pro AV executed the installation while the team was playing two consecutive away games before returning for another home game. As Barlow recalls, it was a seamless ‘set and forget’ experience installing the new amplifiers. “We called Powersoft and said that we needed these units now — they delivered, and everything performed flawlessly.” The entire cutover from the older system took less than an hour.
Hard Hitting Sound for the Nevada Wolf Pack
After the new amplifiers were installed, just one day before the home game, it didn’t take long for both staff and fans to notice the difference in audio quality. “The sound and clarity was amazing,” says Barlow. “One of the first comments we heard was one of the executives asking if we had installed subwoofers in the system, which of course, we hadn’t.” Barlow attributes the increased sound clarity to the extremely fast, accurate performance of the new Powersoft Ottocanali amplifiers: “These amplifiers hit a lot harder than others on the market. It is a much faster response that gives us a lot more detail and intelligibility at the end of the day.”
“We have A/B’d Powersoft gear against other amplifiers using the same rig and EQ curves; and the sound quality is superior,” says Barlow. “You can hear it in the frequency response times, and the way you feel the bass. For example, 15″ subs can sound like 18″ subs. The difference is not marginal and is very audible.”
The Nevada Wolf Pack has already played seven games through the new audio system at Mackay Stadium, and both Pro AV and its client have been extremely pleased with the result: “We were looking for a system that would hold up for a long time and last them many years and we made the right choice. This was our biggest Powersoft installation so far, and we would do another in a heartbeat.”
Powersoft is the world leader in lightweight, high power, single rack space, energy efficient amplifiers for the professional audio market. Founded in Italy in 1995, headquartered in Florence, Italy, with offices in Ventura, CA, Powersoft couples the experience and precision of its production department with exceptional components to deliver products with perfect audio response and high performance reliability. Its state-of-the-art amplifiers can be found in an array of markets, ranging from stadiums, sporting arenas, theme parks, performance venues and airports to convention centers, churches and clubs, and are used by the world’s leading tour sound companies. For more information, visit the Powersoft website @ www.powersoft-audio.com.
1) Aerial view of University of Reno Nevada’s Mackay Stadium
2) As part of Mackay Stadium’s recent audio system upgrade, Pro AV installed (4) Powersoft Ottocanali 1204s amplifiers.
3) Mackay Stadium chose Powersoft amplification because of their low power consumption and low heat dispersion.