The latest addition to the billion-dollar haunted house industry, the new Dark Hour Haunted House in Plano, TX is outfitted with an all-QSC Audio multi-zone sound system controlled by dual redundant Q-Sys Core 500i processors.
The high-tech haunt comprises three terrifying realms—Dominion of the Dead, Coven Manor and Voodoo Vengeance—outfitted with a variety of QSC Audio active K Series, KW Series and KLA Series loudspeakers, as well as AcousticPerformance and AcousticDesign loudspeakers driven by CX Series and PowerLight 3 Series amplifiers.
The entire audio system is controlled and optimized by redundant Q-Sys Core 500i processors supporting multichannel audio file playlists and managing approximately 60 zones and the system also supports five paging stations and is tied into the building’s fire alarm system.
The QSC Audio solution is part of a large package of audio, projection, lighting, show production and building control equipment sourced and supplied by GC Pro, Guitar Center’s outside sales division, and installed in the 30,000 square-foot Halloween haunt. GC Pro Affiliate Program member DJ Sound & Lighting, Dallas-based audio, visual and lighting sales, service, rental and installation company, integrated and programmed the system.
The Dark Hour loudspeaker systems include AcousticDesign AD-S8T surface-mount 8-inch, 2-way loudspeakers driven by CX404 amplifiers plus AcousticPerformance AP-5102 10-inch, 2-way and AP-5122 12-inch, 2-way loudspeakers driven by PowerLight 3 PL340 amplifiers, as well as active K8 eight-inch, 2-way, K10 10-inch, 2-way loudspeakers and KW181 18-inch subwoofers.
A performance stage located next to the admission line is also outfitted with two flown hangs of three KLA12 active line array loudspeakers and two KLA181 subs each, and also includes KW122 12-inch, 2-way floor monitors.
A typical area in the haunt might have as many as eight loudspeakers, each with individual sound sources such as heartbeats, piano, ambiences and ghosts whispering and moving about, which was simple to set up, explains Troy Gallaher, project manager with DJ Sound & Lighting.
“But we have a vortex room, a big spinning tunnel that, when you’re walking through it with your eyes open, makes you feel like you’re going to fall over,” he adds. “So we added four speakers in different places along the length of the tunnel, and we’ve got them firing off at different times. So the sound makes you feel like it’s spinning, too. Close your eyes and you’re still disoriented. That was one of the fun ones that the QSC guys and I worked on. I’m happy with how it turned out.”
Kevin Deal, account manager, GC Pro, admits that he originally knew relatively little about haunted houses, but after immersing himself in the design and technology—including obtaining his Q-Sys certification online at qsctraining.com—and visiting other Halloween-themed venues, he says, “We have ended up with what’s probably going to become the top-rated haunted house in the country.”
Deal recommended QSC to the Dark Hour owners as a single-source solution for the audio system. “This is a gigantic solution, very complex, so I recommended that we go with one brand like QSC to do this,” he says. “So we built a robust network in there, all controlled by Q-Sys. And they’re very happy.”
Gallaher programmed the system for iPad control, including a page that switches the entire system on or off: “It’s got a giant red button that says ‘Start.’ Hit it, and it turns green,” he notes. “And I gave them one UCI that has an individual start/stop and a volume for all of the rooms, and also a control to turn on what I call the Doppler Effect for the three different rooms that have that. They can go into one of those rooms, turn on the Doppler, and then turn on that sound and hear it bounce around just by itself, and adjust the volume.”
Five Q-Sys Networked Page Stations are tied into the Dark Hour system. Gallaher: “When they’re ready to go black, before they start the haunt, they’ll make a page to let the actors know that they need to be in the scene before it goes dark, or warn any of the techs that are working.” The stations can also key into the system: “We’ve got one master code so they can start the entire haunt with one code, and stop it the same way.
“Probably the best part of the whole process was QSC’s 24/7 support,” he adds, who reports that he challenged the QSC support team with some complex sound design questions. “Those guys are amazing and will work with you on anything, day or night. I got to know a lot of them on a first name basis, and it was a really great experience.”