CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA – AUGUST 2012: Known affectionately to the students at the University of Virginia as “Mem Gym,” Memorial Gymnasium was constructed in 1924 to provide a home for the school’s basketball team. In 1940, as President Roosevelt was preparing to deliver a commencement address to the University’s graduating class, of which his son was a member, he learned of Italy’s allegiance with Germany and delivered his famous impromptu “stab in the back” speech in Memorial Gymnasium. In the ensuing years, the school carefully maintained the aesthetic charm of the 2,500-seat facility, which currently serves as a workout center and home to the school’s volleyball, wrestling, and intramural sports teams. As part of its commitment to keeping the facility in tip-top shape, the school recently hired dB Audio & Video of Gainesville, Georgia to renovate Memorial Gymnasium’s sound reinforcement system. In order to deliver intelligible speech and spirit-motivating bass, dB Audio & Video installed Danley Sound Labs Synergy Horn loudspeakers and Tapped Horn subwoofers, with Danley Sound Labs processing and amplification at the front end.
The previous sound system was centered on four clusters of horns that fired down from the rafters. Because the brick walls are untreated and because the horns had poorly-controlled patterns, significant energy bounced around the room, effectively masking speech and undermining intelligibility. “It was an echo chamber,” deadpanned David Clark, operations manager at dB Audio & Video. “It was very difficult to understand what was being said.”
One option might have been to treat the walls with absorptive material, but the aesthetic integrity of the building was of paramount importance. Fortunately, an ultimately better solution presented itself. Danley Sound Labs’ Synergy Horn technology not only delivers point-source, hard-pack arrayable, phase-coherent sound, it also delivers well-defined pattern control all the way down into the low octaves. “With the Danley boxes, I was able to keep all of the energy on the bleachers and off of the walls,” said Clark. Danley’s Synergy Horn line contains a diversity of boxes with different beam widths for different situations. At Memorial Gymnasium, the Danley SH-69’s 60×90 pattern fit the bill perfectly.
Clark used a total of eight Danley SH-69s, three each on either end of the building and two at the midline. “The athletic director also requested some low end to help pump up the crowd,” recounted Clark. A pair of Danley TH-118 subwoofers would fulfill that request wonderfully, and Clark mounted them in the rafters, splitting the distance between the three clusters of SH-69s. A Danley DSLP48 DSP provides modest input tuning, as well as loudspeaker conditioning and protection. A pair of Danley DSLA-3.3k amplifiers powers all of the SH-69s, and one Danley DSLA-6.5k amp powers both subwoofers. “With Danley processing and amplifiers, I always know that I’ll have the flexibility to meet the requirements of the system and the power to make it sound its best,” said Clark. “And it’s a very clean installation when everything comes from the same manufacturer. It looks good, and you know everything is matched to work well together.”
He continued, “The system turned out sounding really nice. The intelligibility improved one-hundred percent, and now the fans can understand everything that’s being said. Moreover, we were able to position the loudspeakers and subwoofers high above the rafters – above the light fixtures even – so that the aesthetics of the building remain intact. With the clarity of the Danley SH-69s and the undistorted thump of the Danley TH-118s, the sound quality of music in Memorial Gymnasium is now amazing!”
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