Western Carolina University Upgrades Ramsey Activity Center With JBL Loudspeakers

May 09, 2012, by PSW Staff

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Western Carolina University’s Liston B. Ramsey Regional Activity Center hosts the University’s basketball and volleyball teams as well as a variety of special events and concerts.

Although rich in tradition, WCU’s administrators recently recognized that older isn’t always better, calling on consulting firm Acoustical Design Group to help upgrade the sound system at the Ramsey Center with JBL loudspeakers.

Acoustical Design Group worked directly with WCU to come up with an ideal audio system for the Center, which was installed by Raleigh, North Carolina-based contractor Strategic Connections. “Right from the start, we were able to talk with the University about the best products for the new system,” said Ian Wolfe of Acoustical Design Group. “It was apparent the University had a preference for JBL loudspeakers, as did we.”

The system upgrade began with replacing the center cluster with JBL PD5212/95 loudspeakers in a 360-degree arrangement. “The PD5212/95 is ideal for this purpose because it delivers high output with excellent pattern control,” Wolfe said. “Because the University wanted to maintain this center cluster for its basketball and volleyball games, we used the existing framework and winching system.”

Because the center cluster is near the scoreboard above the middle of the court, supplemental PD5212/95 loudspeakers were added to fill in the acoustic shadow created by the scoreboard, along with several JBL AM7212 loudspeakers for additional downfill.

The system upgrade went beyond replacing the existing center cluster, however. “WCU wanted a system that would accommodate University-based activities such as convocations and conferences along with concerts by regional artists who previously had to bring in rental systems,” Wolfe noted.

Wolfe and his team decided on JBL VERTEC® VT4887A compact line array elements, along with a stack of six ASB6128 subwoofers. “This system does double duty—when it’s not used for concerts, it can be moved to a different location for sporting events,” Wolfe said. “We had Strategic Connections rig the speakers to a system of chain motors and cables that allow the staff to move them to the required location without having to bring in riggers.”

In addition to concerts, sporting events, and conferences, the Ramsey Activity Center hosts student orientations at the beginning of each school year. “For orientations, WCU places a stage on the floor to create a ‘mini auditorium.’ For this application, the full VERTEC system would be overkill, so two JBL CBT 100LA column speakers mounted right into the existing lighting truss provide adequate coverage for about 1,000 people,” Wolfe added.

To complete the installation, JBL Control 26CT in-ceiling speakers were placed throughout the concourse. “WCU wanted the ability to send an independent audio feed to this area for trade shows, banquets and other activities,” Wolfe said. “The concourse also overlooks the football stadium and, during games, some spectators are seated in the concourse area. The concourse loudspeakers provide stadium sound during those games.”

“We’re very happy with the sound as is WCU, and Strategic Connections did a great job in keeping everything within budget and installing everything exactly according to plan,” Wolfe concluded.

This past March WCU installed its newest Chancellor using the “RAC” as the location for the ceremony. The show consisted of a 60-piece orchestra, 30-voice choir, brass quintet, regimental drum recessional, podium mics, national anthem mic, and three wireless lapel microphones. This, to many at WCU, was the most important event to occur on campus in 17 years (since the last installation ceremony).  Ryan Fisher of WCU reported, “The arena sounded like a digital cinema soundtrack.  Everyone was thrilled and there were plenty of compliments. The system performed absolutely perfectly.” 

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Western Carolina University Upgrades Ramsey Activity Center With JBL Loudspeakers
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