EVANSTON, ILLINOIS: Ryan Field is home to the Northwestern University Wildcats football team and, despite the team’s underdog reputation, the stadium is usually filled to a capacity crowd of over 47,000 fans. The team and the stadium are steeped in tradition – quite similar to the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field. Founding member of the Midwest’s celebrated Big Ten Conference, the Wildcats football team was organized in 1876. The university completed Ryan Field in 1926, making it one of the oldest college football stadiums still in use. Though not quite so old, Ryan Field’s PA system is well into its third decade and exhibits a severely truncated low end and high end. School officials recently hired local pro audio design, rental and sales powerhouse TC Furlong Inc. to bring Ryan Field’s music reproduction into the 21st Century. Now, for every home game, TC Furlong temporarily installs just two Danley Jericho
Horns to cover all 47,000 seats with stunning, full-frequency fidelity.
The most obvious failing in the stadium’s old and heavily patched horn-driven system is a lack of bass. It cuts off around 250 Hz. “You can crank Metallica through that system, but it doesn’t sound tough,” commented company president TC Furlong. “It only gives you the idea of toughness, which is a very different, and much less inspiring, thing. The folks in charge of athletics marketing recognized that this needed to change, so they contacted us. In a word, we promised to give them a solution that would be impactful.”
Furlong and the company’s senior audio technician Scott Helmke had to jump a few logistical hurdles to make that happen. First, because the existing system was still functioning and well maintained, the university was looking for a solution that could be carted in and out only for football games. Second, rigging options were limited. Those constraints, combined with the need to still deliver sound that would be more than merely adequate (after all, the stadium already has adequate sound!) caused Furlong and Helmke to look into Danley’s new point-source solution for high SPL situations, the Jericho Horn. The Jericho Horn combines six 18-inch low-frequency drivers, six 6-inch mid-frequency drivers, and three 4-inch two-way high-frequency drivers using a number of Danley’s proprietary and patented technologies. The end result is point source behavior with exceptional phase coherence, pattern control, and fidelity.
After a very successful demo, Northwestern signed a multi-year contract with TC Furlong Inc. Now, a crew arrives at 6:00am on game day, mounts two Jericho Horns on a rooftop terrace, rolls out a pair of processing and amplifier racks, and ties the temporary system into the stadium’s existing infrastructure using both wired and wireless technologies. Indeed, the wireless signal sent from the nine-story press box sounds “wired” and better than the truly wired signal! The system is ready for pre-game content and an 11:00am kickoff. Because the Jericho Horns are so powerful, Furlong and Helmke decided to cross their patterns, such that the horn mounted on the east side of Ryan Field covers the fans on the west side of the stadium, and vice versa. Each equipment rack contains an XTA DP226 processor and five dual-channel Crown MA3600 amplifiers. A single Socapex connection links each amp rack to a Jericho Horn.
“The fans get a much better experience with the Jericho Horns,” said Furlong. “And the players do too! The first time we brought the system out, the players got very excited about having a giant, full-frequency stereo in their stadium. Honestly, I think they played with greater intensity.” Although the plan was originally to continue using the existing system for spoken word, everyone agreed that the Jericho Horns would do a better job with spoken word as well. Now, everything is routed through the Jericho Horns.
Apart from all of the well-documented reasons for Danley’s excellent fidelity, Furlong cites an additional consideration that makes the Jericho Horns an even better choice for outdoor venues. “Wind can wreck havoc with a multi-point source, such as a line array,” he explains. “Because wind is necessarily turbulent, it affects different point sources differently, which effectively destroys the pattern control of a line array. That’s bad for both coverage and frequency response. In contrast, a Jericho Horn is a point-source unit. Even though the wind can affect it, there is no interaction. As a result, the coverage and frequency response of a Jericho Horn is excellent, even on a very windy day.” And of course, Northwestern is right next to the Windy City!
TC Furlong did an exemplary job of not only installing powerful, full-fidelity PA speakers for Northwestern, but also of making sure that that power would not cause harm to anyone’s hearing. Using a combination of Studio Technologies’ SPLnet and TRENDpro SPL reporting software, Furlong ensures that the Jericho Horns are a safe solution. By calculating exposure targeting, the TRENDpro software integrates exposure over time to prescribe level changes. “With exposure targeting, it’s kind of like we have decibels in the bank,” explained Furlong. “If we come to the end of a game and find that we have very few decibels left in the bank, we can keep the level below the prescribed target level for everyone’s safety. But if we have some decibels “credit” we know that we can safely end the game with a bang, so to speak.”
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
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