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A virtual press conference from Sound & Video Contractor


hitchcockfield.JPGAUBURN, ALABAMA – FEBRUARY 2009: Auburn University in east-central Alabama is one of the state’s largest public institutions, and its legion of students and alumni are fiercely proud of their Auburn Tiger athletic teams. Auburn baseball is one of its crown jewels and boasts six SEC championships, three SEC Tournament championships, sixteen NCAA Regionals appearances, and four College World Series appearances. Over a dozen Auburn alumni have gone on to the Major Leagues, including all-star baseball player and football player Bo Jackson. Befitting the prestige of the team, Samford Stadium-Hitchcock Field at Plainsman Park is arguably the most “professional” stadium in college baseball, with a seating capacity of over 4,000 in the stands alone.

However, the intelligibility and punch had gone out of the field’s sound system over the last several seasons, a fate codetermined by exposure to the elements and the nesting instincts of the local fauna. “The sound system sat on top of the scoreboard and bore the brunt of Alabama’s frequent and extreme thunderstorms year in and year out,” explained Bill Manning of Pensacola’s All Pro Sound. “The cabinets had totally deteriorated. Some were still functioning, but many were not. What’s worse, birds had gotten inside many of the speaker cabinets, and several found their final resting place there. It was pretty bad!”

Auburn University has an established and trusting relationship with All Pro Sound, and the officials in charge of the field were happy to call on Manning for his assessment. It didn’t take much consideration to decide that the system needed a complete overhaul. “We agreed that the new speakers would sit on top of the scoreboard without any modifications to the scoreboard’s structure,” said Manning. “Thus, the new speakers would be no closer to the stands than the old ones had been, and they would be just as exposed to the elements.”

speakercloseup.JPGFortunately, in the years since the old system was put in place, Danley loudspeakers have come into existence, and with Danley come solutions to both problems. Manning specified seven Danley SH-25 full-range loudspeakers and four Danley TH-212 subwoofers and situated them on top of the scoreboard in an exploded cluster. They all aim in across the field to provide even coverage along the width and height of the stands. Lab Gruppen amplifiers power all the units.

“On the face of it, the Danley boxes are a little bit more expensive, but we’ve found that the return for that cost makes them more than competitive,” said Manning. “The SH-25 is a very powerful little box. It fits in the space we were constrained to, and delivers a concentrated 25 by 25-degree beam, even down to low-mid frequencies. That puts more energy where we need it with less wasted on the ground and sky.”

Of course, Manning was also careful to ensure that the new system will not meet the same, dilapidated fate that the old system met. Thus, he had all of the Danley boxes completely weatherized at the Danley factory, an option that Danley extends to all their products. “Many loudspeaker manufacturers only offer a small percentage of their products in weatherized finishes,” noted Manning. “Danley on the other hand offers their entire product line with two weatherization finish options. This provides the designer much more flexibility and confidence knowing that regardless of the outdoor conditions, the Danley Sound Labs products will deliver great performance.

While they were switching out the speakers, Manning and Auburn’s officials agreed that the rest of the system could use an upgrade as well. Manning outfitted the field with two wireless Audio Technica microphones for flexible paging, announcements, and on-field performances. A CD player, a portable MP3 player dock, and a laptop-based “Quick Effects” program provide the other inputs to an Allen and Heath Mix Wizard. Quick Effects effectively replaces the baseball stadium organ of yore. The whole system fits in one tidy rack and is simple enough to use that the dozens of people who need to can simply intuit its function.

The installation finished in early February, just in time for the late February opener against Elon University. “This was a straightforward job,” said Manning. “We came in, got it done, and got out. With weatherized Danley loudspeakers at the forefront, it is simple and solid and will last a long, long time!”

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.

Danley Sound Labs • www.danleysoundlabs.com

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February 2009
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