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Purdue University Kicks Off with New Meyer System
With seating for more than 65,000 Boilermaker fans, Ross-Ade Stadium at Purdue University is the second-largest football stadium in Indiana — following, not surprisingly, right behind the home field of Notre Dame's "Fighting Irish."
Being number two has only made the Boilermakers try harder. A three-year, $70 million stadium renovation project at the school's West Lafayette campus — when completed next year — will enlarge the stadium footprint, add new suites and premium seating, upgrade media facilities, and generally improve amenities for fans and players alike. As for this year's improvements, perhaps the most appreciated has been the stadium's new self-powered PA system from Meyer Sound.
"This new system is, by far, clearer, stronger and more versatile," says Jay Cooperider, assistant athletic director at Purdue. "It is better in all ways imaginable. The phrase 'night and day' doesn't really do justice to the change."
The new Meyer Sound system comprises eight MSL-6 Horn-Loaded High-Q Main loudspeakers and four SB-1 Parabolic Long-Throw Sound Beams. The MSL-6s cover the near and middle sections, while the SB-1s aim at the farthest grandstands — with some seats as much as 600 feet away.
Considering its uniform coverage of the U-shaped bowl, the new Meyer Sound system is remarkably compact, nestling snugly inside a 32-foot-long deck barely eight feet high by six feet deep. Because the scoreboard had been rebuilt only five years earlier to accommodate a Sony Jumbotron screen, there remained no budget for major structural renovations to house the new loudspeakers. Instead, the entire system had to be shoehorned into a shallow deck that was formerly allotted to camera crews.
"In other circumstances, I would have considered a tall vertical array for the long throw," says Kevin Day, principal system designer and an associate at the Dallas-based consulting firm of Wrightson, Johnson, Haddon and Williams. "But the architects on the project wouldn't allow it, so the Meyer Sound SB-1 became the solution of choice for the long throw."
Day adds that the SB-1 proved easy to install and integrate into the system. "There's no arraying to it. These are point-and-shoot devices. With amplifiers and processing built in, you simply feed it a signal and aim it. Also, the bandwidth extends significantly lower than the old multi-cellular horns they had in here before."
Boosting output level and extending the bandwidth were crucial considerations in specifying the new system. For the previous five years, the Jumbotron had provided high-impact visuals — but with no sound to match. Despite the space crunch, Day needed to design a system that could accommodate the punch of modern music. "With the new Meyer Sound system, we are getting a couple octaves lower and about ten dB more maximum output," says Day, "and the response is much more flat."
According to Purdue's Jay Cooperider, the added audio impact has pumped up this season's pre-game energy. "Our fire-up video is set to the tune of 'When Worlds Collide,' and it would have sounded like high-level static on the old system. Now, we have a system that can handle rocking music."
Curiously, one of the first steps toward the stadium system upgrade started in a venue known for music of a more refined nature: Purdue's 6,000-seat Elliot Hall of Music, where a Meyer Sound system was installed several years ago. When consultations began with WJHW, several university officials expressed a preference for a Meyer Sound system — among them, senior electrical engineer Charlie Beard. "We were extremely pleased with what we had in the Hall of Music, and we had heard that Meyer had installed a stadium system at Tampa Bay," he says. "The sound quality was a point in favor of Meyer Sound loudspeakers, but longevity was also a key consideration. We like things that last for a long time. The last time we touched the stadium system was in the mid-1960s, and we were looking for something that we felt would do the job for many years to come."