Dubbed the “cathedral of college basketball,” the University of Pennsylvania’s 8,722-seat Palestra arena is home to the Penn Quakers men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball and wrestling teams, and it recently received an audio upgrade headed by JBL Professional loudspeakers and Crown Audio amplifiers, courtesy of systems integrator Clair Brothers Audio Systems.
“The existing sound system simply wasn’t meeting the needs of the facility,” said Tim Mazur of Clair Brothers. “It was underpowered and couldn’t compete with the reverberant acoustics of the arena.”
After conducting an acoustical analysis of the Palestra, Clair Brothers designed a new system based around JBL VRX932LA-1 Constant Curvature loudspeakers and ASB6118.
As part of the renovation, Clair Brothers designed and fabricated a custom 2-layer rigging grid that can be raised and lowered from the ceiling, placing it in the optimum position during games and other events and out of the way when not required. The fly grid holds 30 JBL VRX932LA-1 line arrays arranged in six clusters of five each, with eight ASB6118 subs hung from the center. In addition, four JBL AM5212/95 loudspeakers deliver fill sound onto the basketball court.
Ten Crown Macro-Tech 9000i amplifiers and one Macro-Tech 5000i amplifier drive the loudspeakers, linked by a BSS Audio BLU-160 signal processor with digital audio bus and a BLU-BOB2 break-out box.
“The Palestra is a very difficult acoustic space because it’s highly reverberant, but we were not allowed to apply any acoustical treatment,” Mazur says. Working in conjunction with JBL, Clair Brothers determined the JBL VRX932LA-1 loudspeakers would deliver the most output for the budget thanks to their compact size, ease of installation, and 100 x 15-degree coverage pattern.
“We had a very tight turnaround on the project – only nine weeks from the time of the purchase order was issued to the completion date,” Mazur concludes. As a result, Clair Brothers hung and tested the entire system at its Manheim, PA headquarters before installing it in the Palestra.