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Electro-Voice XLD loudspeaker system with FIR-Drive for Crisler Arena, Ann Arbor

crisler_arena_003.jpgA new Electro-Voice XLD very compact line-array loudspeaker system has opened up a new lease on life at Crisler Arena, a 13,500 seat arena at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. The state-of-the-art system was designed and installed by TeL Systems (Ann Arbor, MI), and features all DSP control via EV’s NetMax platform with FIR-Drive (utilizing FIR filters).

The venue is now used primarily for the University of Michigan Men and Women’s basketball teams, as well as Women’s gymnastics and auxiliary events such as graduations. It has a long history as an event and concert venue, hosting everything from Elvis on his last tour in 1977 to the Dalai Lama in 2008.

TeL Systems was selected to replace the original sound system, which dated back to the original construction of the building in 1967, after submitting a design/build solution during the bidding process. Peter O’Neil from TeL Systems crafted a solution, in design consultation with Jason Jacquemain of Electro-Voice reps CL Pugh, and Stuart Schatz and Chris Aeilts from Electro-Voice. Installation occurred during September and October of 2008.

“The President of TeL Systems, Karl Couyoumjian, is a long time season ticket holder, and had been looking forward to replacing the outdated system for some time,? says Peter O’Neil of TeL Systems. “He says that his friends would look at him during games as if to say ‘Do something!’ Our only real venue requirements were to keep the arrays above and outside of the scoreboard—the existing system was multi-cell horns with giant bass bins mounted below the scoreboard. As it was a bid situation, it was important to be cost effective and yet still meet the performance criteria. I brought the project to the table with the idea of using four line arrays and a directional subwoofer array.?

Jason Jacquemain of EV reps CL Pugh visited the venue and thought it would be a perfect fit for the XLD281 very compact line-array. O’Neil continues, “We agreed that the ability to use a greater number of boxes—and all while lowering cost—meant that we could achieve vertical pattern control over the steep near sides, while optimizing horizontal pattern control, an inherent design feature of the XLD281, to minimize overlap. Other vendors came in with solutions that used more arrays of bigger boxes, but fewer per array. We are able to more than meet their SPL and coverage goals with a relatively compact XLD deployment of just two arrays of twelve and two arrays of ten boxes (44 total). The installation also includes four FRX+ speakers (two each of the 90×40 and 60×60-degree models) flown under the scoreboard, shading the court and first few rows.

“The main arrays pick up at 25 feet, and the overlap is remarkably smooth,” O’Neil adds. “The XLD281 box throws so well and is so loud that the trim height (48.5 feet) is a non-issue. The overall compactness of the EV system also allowed the scoreboard to be lowered slightly, so it’s now more directly in the fans’ sightlines. Jason and Stu worked out a vertical subwoofer array utilizing the QRx218S (x4) that gives wide coverage, but steers down with delay on the bottom box to keep the sub bass out of the rafters. Everything was modeled with LAPS, Arrayshow, and EASE, and the results were very true to what the software predicted.?

An EV Netmax N8000 matrix controller, equipped with FIR filters (FIR-Drive) was specified as the DSP hub for the system. With the new DO-1 output card, signals can be sent signal digitally via AES-3 to the RCM-26 DSP modules loaded into each of the Dynacord PowerH amplifiers powering the system (19x H2500; 2x H5000). “This provides the stability and noise resistance of AES-3, as well as full DSP redundancy,? O’Neil adds, “and allows us to take advantage of the incredible new FIR filters from Electro-Voice. We have been very impressed with the low noise of the system, as well as the power and power consumption.?

The facility needed a way to easily change between three crowd size settings (court only, lower bowl, and full arena) and EV came up with a great way to make this happen, as O’Neil explains: “We put a (TPI-8) touch panel in the facility office and, utilizing IRIS-Net, we can turn off the top zone of the PA—it works beautifully. The coverage drops off right where the second level of seating starts. The touch panels look great and are very easy to use. The facility staff was up and running with them right away.?

IRIS-Net and the RCM-26 modules also allowed TeL to set up the very simple, yet very powerful, EV one-button system check feature. As part of their maintenance routine, staff can run a test of every driver set, amp channel, cable, and connector in the system at the touch of a button. TeL was also able to tie the system power sequencing into the NetMax unit, and now the last step in the sequence turns all the amps on or puts them on standby. Polar Focus provided an innovative rigging solution utilizing pulleys and their Z-beam, which allowed for quick, accurate rigging, and has kept the arrays hanging straight from a cost effective single point hang. Motion Labs was selected for motor control; their server-based system allows the facility to lower and raise the clusters with repeatable accuracy.

“Everyone who has heard the system so far agrees that it sounds fantastic,? says O’Neil, “It was collaboration in the best sense, and the support from all levels at EV has been amazing. Monte Wise (Director of Special Projects, EV) kept tabs on the project and was there for us to bounce ideas off of, and Mike Webb (Director Installed Sound) made sure that we had all of our boxes well ahead of time. EV has shown that they can be counted on, from both the product end and from the support side.

“I knew that EV products sounded good, having mixed on both the larger X-Line and XLC line-array systems, and we knew they could deliver in critical situations,? adds O’Neil. “The XLD281 has made a believer out of me now as well. In the right situation it is a great value, delivering tremendous sound quality and enough output for a 13,500 seat arena. The game day engineer, Tim O’Farrell from the University of Michigan, commented to me on the quality of the subwoofer array output and the overall clean performance of the system—gone are the buzzes and hums and incessant noise floor. From the first rows to the back, LAPS predicted even coverage, and it is realized in this system. It is a cliché, but the back row really does sound as good as the first.?

Karl Couyoumjian offered some closing thoughts: “This was a large, complicated, high-visibility installation that had to be done in off-hours in a very short timeframe with an unmovable deadline. Everyone at EV and CL Pugh was terrific to work with, helping make this one of the smoothest large-scale audio installations we’ve ever done. They all went the extra mile to assist us. Since the project was completed, I’ve received a number of very positive e-mails raving about the new system, and I keep hearing ‘Wow!’ from fans sitting near me at the games.?

TeL Systems

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