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Florida Arena Installs 100% Meyer System


"We're now having productions come in, take a look at what we have and say, 'I'm sorry we pulled our rig off the truck. I like what you have in here."

- Jeff Chenery,
Assistant Director, Stephen C. O'Connell Center at the University of Florida

In order to significantly boost sound quality in the upper tier of seating, the Stephen C. O'Connell Center at the University of Florida in Gainesville has installed a new delay ring of 18 Meyer Sound UPA-1P compact wide coverage loudspeakers. When coupled with a 25-cabinet Meyer Sound main cluster installed earlier, the completed system now provides seamless coverage from the courtside seats through the topmost rows of this 12,000-seat home for Florida Gator athletics.

The new ring of self-powered UPA-1P cabinets replaces a five-year-old conventional delay system that was installed at the same time as the main Meyer Sound cluster. However, sound quality in the upper tier had never proven satisfactory, according to the venue's assistant director, Jeff Chenery. "They ran into some budget constraints and the old upper ring system was put in as a compromise," he says. "It was obvious to anybody with a decent ear that, when you walked up the steps outside the field of the main cluster and into the delays, the sound really dropped off. You were getting more ambient noise than direct sound."

Two factors combined to bring about a remedy to the situation. First, the hiring of Billy Donovan as the Gator's head basketball coach had boosted attendance at home games, filling the arena to capacity for most Southeastern Conference contests. But, according to Chenery, the final push to upgrade came from the Provost's office, primarily because of a desire to upgrade audio quality for the university's commencement ceremonies. "The impression the Center makes at commencement is something the university values very much," he says, "and the Provost's office wanted everybody in the building to experience the same quality of sound."

The new delay ring complements a main cluster that was installed in 1998, when the multi-use facility – completed in 1980 – replaced the original fabric roof with a permanent steel structure. The Meyer Sound cluster comprises ten MSL-4 horn-loaded long throw loudspeakers; five CQ-2 narrow coverage and four CQ-1 wide coverage full range cabinets; and six PSW-4 powered subwoofers. Both the main cluster and new delay ring were designed and installed by Pro Sound Inc., with headquarters in Miami. Pro Sound CEO Rod Sintow designed the original cluster in association with PMK Consultants and Topper Sowden of Sowden and Associates, while Kelly Prince of Pro Sound's Orlando office designed the new delay system.

To seamlessly integrate the new delay ring, and assure the utmost quality, the recent installation included enhancement of the existing Soundweb DSP system, and addition of a Cobranet-based digital system to carry audio signals from the control room to the upper catwalks where the new loudspeakers are located. Pro Sound's Prince re-tuned the entire system tuning using Meyer Sound's SIM FFT analyzer. "They now have practically seamless coverage," says Prince. "You really can't perceive a difference in the upper and lower areas. The intelligibility is essentially the same throughout, and they have about three times as much headroom in the system."

Completion of the all-Meyer Sound system already has made a difference in the venue's sound capabilities, according to Jeff Chenery. "We're now having productions come in, take a look at what we have and say, 'I'm sorry we pulled our rig off the truck. I like what you have in here.' One production, Sesame Street Live, used our whole system instead. They were touring with their own Meyer rig, but ours was already up in the air."

However, the real test for the new all-Meyer Sound system came about two months after completion, when the University held its 2003 commencement ceremonies. Says Chenery: "I heard some nice compliments from people who were originally the critics. Representatives from the Provost's office said they definitely could discern the difference after the new installation. That's what I wanted to hear. It assured me that this was money well spent."

August, 2003








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