WICHITA, KANSAS – MARCH 2014: Originally constructed in 1953 and renovated in 2003, the 10,500-seat Charles Koch Arena is home to the Wichita State University Shockers’ basketball and volleyball teams. The men’s basketball team is a ten-time contender in the NCAA finals, and its home games usually sell out the arena. Recently, Daktronics (Brookings, South Dakota) designed and installed a new center-hung video board in Koch Arena, which prompted a simultaneous renovation of its previously disappointing sound reinforcement system. Now, twenty-four Danley Sound Labs Synergy Horn loudspeakers join four Tapped Horn subwoofers to deliver high-volume, high-fidelity audio to Shockers fans.
“Men’s basketball at Wichita State University attracts large, mostly sold-out, crowds,” said John Olsen, a Daktronics regional sales representative for large sport venue audio. “Because the shape of the building is circular and because the roof is curved, the sound level in Koch Arena can be challenging to overcome when the action on the court heats up. The old system lacked the proper design and performance to cover the entire arena with intelligible speech and impactful music, and there was a definite lack of low-end performance. The school had invested a lot of money in past improvements, but they were ineffective for the whole facility. The new system had to be more inclusive of their immediate in-game needs for all the fans.”
In addition to Olsen, who provided the client contact and communication necessary to understand and meet the university’s expectations, the Daktronics team consisted of Aaron Louwagie, project manager, Dan Eckert, system design engineer, and Doug Dodge, field installation engineer. Decker Electric of Wichita, Kansas provided the high- and low-voltage installation and rigging of the clusters, which required extensive welding to existing roof structures. Larry Lucas of Anthony James Partners (Richmond, Virginia) assisted with system design and commissioning.
Owing to its circular architecture (designed to give everyone a better seat), Koch Arena is known locally as “The Roundhouse.” “It’s a symmetrical room with a highly reflective dome,” said Lucas. “The acoustical challenges that come with that are extreme. The new system would have to have exceptional pattern control so that energy would hit the fans and not the ceiling. Danley Sound Labs’ unique horn-loaded designs offer that kind of precise pattern control. Moreover, they’re very cost-effective, especially when you factor in that each Synergy Horn loudspeaker or Tapped Horn subwoofer requires only one processing and amplifier channel.”
The system is comprised of eight clusters that circle the top ring of the new center-hung video board. Each cluster contains a Danley SH-96, a Danley SH-64, and a Danley SM-80. In addition, four Danley TH-118 subwoofers round out the bottom end. “The tight pattern control of those Synergy Horn boxes worked well within each cluster and between each cluster,” continued Lucas. “When we commissioned the system, one box was inadvertently set 6dB hotter than the rest, and it upset the acoustical balancing act that we had designed for the symmetry of the room. Once we brought it back down, the whole system tightened up nicely.”
A Yamaha LS9-16 manages all of the inputs to the system and in turn feeds a QSC Q-Sys processing system. Twenty QSC PL240 and four QSC CX1102 amplifiers power the Danley boxes, whereas two QSC CX302V and two QSC CX108V 70-volt amplifiers power thirty-six JBL Control 25T wall-mounted speakers that cover seats below a balcony lip that is shaded from the video board.
“On the surface, projects like Koch Arena can sometimes seem straightforward, but in reality they are very complex,” explained Olsen. “The SPL and intelligibility required in a facility like this can be very tricky to obtain. The complexity of equipment and the engineering know-how that is needed to properly design, install, test, tune, and fully commission this kind of system takes experience. At Daktronics, we are fortunate to have a team that includes experienced people who can make a project like this look easy. We are pleased with how the Danley speakers perform. They fit well at Koch Arena and the Wichita State University Athletics Department is pleased with the clarity of music and speech that we have achieved. Their fans immediately noticed the upgrades. With a high-performance audio and video system in place, the production team at Wichita now has a broad palette with which to work. Just like viewing a standard-definition video signal on an HD screen reveals hidden flaws, so too, a modern high-definition sound system reveals details in audio content that could not be heard before!”
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