Home of the American Hockey League’s Providence Bruins and Providence College Men’s Basketball, The Dunkin’ Donuts Center is the major sports and entertainment venue of the Providence, Rhode Island metro area.
Seating approximately 13,000 depending on configuration, the arena hosts not only games, including NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball, but also corporate events, trade shows, commencements and concerts from artists including hit-makers such as U2 and Elton John.
The facility, which was extensively remodeled in 2008, benefits from solid acoustic design and good interior treatment. Even so, the sound during games was lacking until a recent sound-system upgrade featuring loudspeakers, power amplifiers and digital routing systems from Electro-Voice.
“The two main issues with the old system were lack of coverage and lack of intelligibility,” says Tom Barrett, president of Ambient Sound in nearby Warwick, Rhode Island. Ambient handled installation and co-designed the system with Electro-Voice’s Technical Services department, whose efforts were led by Robert Deyarmond.
“Those games involve a lot of announcer play-by-play,” Barrett continues, “but unless you were sitting right in front of one of the arrays, you were not going to understand what was being said. Also, the old system did not have any subwoofers, which is especially important for basketball, where there’s a lot of pump-up music between plays.”
Addressing these issues was clearly going to require loudspeakers with speech-range clarity and well-controlled coverage patterns. But the list of suitable systems was narrowed by the facility’s requirements regarding placement, particularly a directive late in the design phase that no cabinet could hang lower than “low steel,” which is the bottom of the ceiling’s lowest horizontal member.
“Permanently-hung cabinets below low steel might have interfered with the availability of rigging points for the concert systems that come in with touring shows,” Barrett says. “And that might have made it difficult for them to avoid interfering with sight lines.”
By limiting the vertical space available for arrays, the low-steel limitation made the size-to-power ratio of the boxes critical, and also placed a premium on loudspeakers that can achieve full performance even in arrays of very few boxes. Based on these requirements the design team selected distributed arrays using Electro-Voice EVH1152 two-way coaxial horn-loaded full-range loudspeakers.
An array of choices
“The choice of options available in the EVH1152 line is fantastic,” Barrett says. “You can customize your coverage — 40 by 30, 60 by 40, 90 by 90 — by picking the right box, and you can also rotate the horns if you need to. Plus the rigging packages that are available for these boxes are engineered to work together in a multitude of environments. That made designing the system a lot easier, which was very valuable. And we didn’t have to custom-fabricate any rigging; we were able to use all off-the-shelf components.”
“These boxes were just the right size that we needed for this situation,” adds Ambient production manager Mario Pregoni. “And we didn’t require any fly grids; we could do all the rigging directly from the cabinets themselves with eye-bolts. That kept the weight down and helped us avoid extra height so we could keep the hangs low-profile.”
Another reason for choosing the EVHs, Pregoni says, is that EV offers a complete system, including the speakers, power amps, routing, control and processing. “It’s all from one manufacturer, so you don’t end up with a mixed bag; you can be sure that it all works together without any compatibility issues. Plus EV has a track record in big arenas and stadiums, both overseas and in the United States, which was a good point in their favor. And it’s rider-friendly.”
Ambient’s Vice President, Tim Quigley, points out that in addition to these technical advantages, the EV system turned out to be cost-effective as well. “EV hit the right cost point. And the finance department was very flexible with their payment options. That was helpful, because the center is a quasi-state facility, and we had to buy the system up front and then wait to be reimbursed.”
36 EVH1152s are deployed in all, 32 of which are used in vertical arrays of two boxes each. Four of these arrays are hung on each long side at intervals of about 30 feet. Another three are flown on each short side. The remaining boxes are used in two horizontal arrays, which cover the two ends of the ice, and in a four-box down-pointing cluster for the center of the ice.