Baker Audio of Norcross, Georgia, recently upgraded the audio system at the University of North Carolina’s (UNC) Kenan Memorial Stadium, home of Tar Heels football since 1927, with JBL VLA line arrays. Baker Audio shares strong ties to UNC and installed an innovative sound system to complement the stadium’s new “horseshoe” design.
Keith Hicks, President of Baker Audio, took great pride in revamping the sound in his alma mater’s stadium, where he played four decades ago as a scholarship UNC football player.
The 64,000-capacity stadium was renovated from its original shape to the horseshoe pattern, which required a completely upgraded sound system, designed by Jack McCallum of Wrightson, Johnson, Haddon & Williams, Inc.
Hanging from the new scoreboard, provided by CBS Sports, Baker Audio supplied 22 JBL VLA601 3-way full-range loudspeakers on each side of the scoreboard, while 23 AM5212 2-way loudspeakers were installed in the “bowl” under the balcony areas, which provided delayed sound coverage.
The system is powered by Crown amplifiers-43 MA-5000i’s, 14 MA-9000i’s and 14 MA-12000i’s accompanied by four CTS2000LITE amplifiers-and is processed through BSS London DSP technology with 11 BLU 800’s as well as 36 BLUCARD-OUT and four BLUCARD-IN analog cards which route all of the audio for the PA, play-by-play and music to achieve that powerful game day sound.
“The JBL system was peaking at 112dB-we’re rocking,” Hicks said. “The VLA line arrays are outstanding. The low-end response is spectacular and we continue to receive compliments on the clarity and coverage of the sound. The UNC athletic staff is pleased with all aspects of the installation and we’ve even received calls from businesses around the city saying they can hear the music during games.”
Working under tight time constraints, Hicks noted one challenge associated with fitting Kenan Memorial Stadium with the new speaker system. While preparing to hoist the VLA speakers, Joe Kimsey, Project Manager for Baker Audio, noticed that the stacks, which each measure more than 25 feet tall, would have less than one foot of clearance within the housing. Baker Audio was able to overcome this challenge by utilizing a 300-foot crane to carefully hang the speakers. Greg Coddington, project engineer for WJHW, was instrumental in the success of the system installation and coordination, says Hicks.
David Rotman of Rotman Architecture added, “In many aspects, it was a very complex construction project; however, due to the dedicated team at Baker, the Kenan Stadium at the University of North Carolina can deliver that ‘wow’ factor with an innovative sound system that, not only works in conjunction with the new, state-of-the-art scoreboard, but provides a state-of-the-art sound system experience at every seating location throughout the building.”
“The VLA line arrays give the stadium much more horsepower than it’s ever had,” Hicks continued. “Every aspect of the installation, from coordinating with the construction, to securing the arrays on the video board was excellent. The entire system is extremely impressive.”
“It was a great opportunity for me, personally, to fit the stadium with sound after years of attending games and even playing football there 100 years ago,” Hicks joked.