PULLMAN, WASHINGTON - JANUARY 2012: To the students of Washington State University and the residents of Pullman, Washington, Beasley Performing Arts Coliseum is a cultural hub for arts, entertainment, and sports. Most notably, it is home to the women and men's Cougar basketball teams, which often draw capacity crowds of 12,000. The coliseum opened in 1973 with the latest sound reinforcement technology available at the time, but the march of the decades recalibrated expectations such that, to modern ears, the reinforcement system at Beasley sounded like an AM radio in a world that had come to expect THX Surround. Thus, when the school contracted Daktronics, Inc. (Brookings, South Dakota) to install a state-of-the-art, center-hung scoreboard and video display, they also hired Anthony James Partners (Richmond, Virginia) to design a state-of-the-art sound reinforcement system to go with it. Daktronics not only installed the scoreboard but won the bid from Washington State University to install the sound system, which relies on the patent-pending Shaded Amplitude Lens Technology of Danley Sound Labs Genesis Horn GH-60s to provide consistent SPL at every seat.
"The original system consisted of a horn-loaded cluster hung in the middle of the facility," said David Sturzenbecher, audio project manager who spearheaded the installation for Daktronics. "It definitely lacked the presence and impact of a modern sound system. Moreover, its location was in direct conflict with the location of the new scoreboard and video display. While the budget was still tight, everyone agreed that the old sound system should be replaced in the process of installing the new scoreboard and video display." As in any bowl-shaped arena, the design challenge was to deliver consistent SPL to both the near seats and the far seats.
"The Danley Genesis Horn GH-60 uses a unique technology that they call 'Shaded Amplitude Lens Technology, or S.A.L.T.'," said Larry Lucas, director of audio engineering at Anthony James Partners. "With it, I was able to cover a wide section of seats with matching SPL." The Shaded Amplitude Lens Technology preserves the point-source performance for which Danley designs are known, while allowing for different output intensity at different heights. S.A.L.T. is an ingenious way of working with the inverse square law. "Using the GH-60s and the other Danley boxes that were included led to a tremendous cost savings," added Sturzenbecher, "Each box requires only one amplifier channel, which was not only good for the budget, but also for the small equipment room we had to work with."
Twelve Danley Genesis Horn GH-60s cover the lower bowl and much of the upper bowl in an exploded ring around center court. Eight Danley SM-60 full-range loudspeakers aimed downward from similar positions cover the floor. Twenty Danley SH-100s fill in the highest reaches of the bowl in a delay ring, and four muscular Danley TH-118 subwoofers provide low-end thump that cannot be denied. Fourteen Crown i-Tech 5000s power the full-range boxes, and two Crown i-Tech 9000s power the subwoofers. Two BSS Soundweb London processors networked with a System Architech user interface provide system conditioning, logic, and control. The existing front end, which was both functional and modern, remained intact.
Depending on the requirements of the coliseum, school technicians can select predetermined zones and volumes with presets, such as "basketball game," or they can manually adjust the volume of each individual zone. System Architect also provides valuable amplifier monitoring of voltage, temperature, etc. "Tuning the system was relatively easy," said Sturzenbecher, "The Danley units sounded great right out the box and they don't require external crossovers and the like. I did little more than add some high pass filters for safety. Getting the delays right took some time, but now that they're locked in and the upper bowl sounds great. The much larger challenges were working around the lighting fixtures and other existing hardware on the ceiling and ensuring that the flexibility of the space was maintained." For example, Daktronics engineered robust quick-release attachments for loudspeakers that would be in the way during a theatrical performance.
The new scoreboard grabs attention, and, for most non-audiophile ticket holders, the vastly improved sound system is likely perceived as a side-effect of its wonderfulness. Each of its four LED video displays (one for each cardinal direction) measures fifteen feet wide by eleven feet high. Ten millimeter line spacing ensures a vivid, high definition image, and sophisticated video input technology allows the school to show all manner of content.
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.