Originally built in 1949, San Antonio’s Freeman Coliseum has hosted everything from rodeos, boxing and hockey to expositions, circuses and concerts.
Recently Bexar County and the facility’s management team decided to embark upon a multi-year initiative to update the venue with the most recent phase involving the addition of a new L-Acoustics ARCS Focus arena loudspeaker system installed by L-Acoustics Certified Provider LD Systems.
According to Garth Hemphill, sales engineer for LD Systems’ Houston office, Nelson Wilcox served as the project manager with project engineering handled by Tom Smith and Whit Whitworth.
Following a careful evaluation of the 11,700-capacity arena’s needs, the LD Systems team worked closely with Andrew Nagel, L-Acoustics’ head of application, install, to ultimately specify a system comprised of 40 ARCS Focus enclosures paired with 16 SB18i subs.
Installed and commissioned by mid-May, just prior to a string of nearly 20 high school and collegiate graduation services that the arena hosts each year, the new system is comprised of eight arrays each featuring five ARCS Focus enclosures flown beneath two SB18i subs.
Powered and processed by a combined total of eight amplified controllers, two LA4 drive the bottom ARCS Focus enclosures on each array—used as downfills to address the floor area when necessary—while six LA8 power both the subs and upper four ARCS Focus cabinets grouped in pairs to cover the main seating.
“We initially put together three potential system packages for the venue: one built on L-Acoustics’ high-performance KARA system, a second system from a competitive manufacturer, and a third comprised of the new ARCS Focus arrays,” says Hemphill. “KARA was really more than they needed, so it was eliminated.
“The second system actually provided a similar performance spec to the ARCS Focus but was considerably more expensive and required 64 rack spaces for amps, as opposed to only 16. Plus, the L-Acoustics product simply sounded better, so it was a much better choice.”
Following the system’s installation, Hemphill admitted that even he was overwhelmingly impressed with the new ARCS Focus arrays.
“This system is amazing,” he enthuses. “I’ve been designing and installing systems for 30 years and have never had a system straight out of the box sound this good in any room, let alone a big echoic arena!
“We walked the entire venue and measured an incredibly consistent 108dB of coverage throughout the seating with almost no fluctuation. And the sound is so naturally clean and present. It reminded me of the sound that our K1 system delivered at RodeoHouston earlier this year, but on a smaller scale.”
Freeman Coliseum Executive Director Derrick Howard agrees.
“Before even listening to our previous sound system, Garth told me that an L-Acoustics solution would sound at least ten times better than what we had been using,” he recalls. “Once the LD team had performed the installation, I brought in one of my favorite CDs, which Garth played as we walked the building, and I had to admit that he was right. The sound is absolutely spectacular.”
Although the new system will frequently be called upon to provide speech reinforcement for graduation ceremonies, corporate functions and other similar events, Howard adds that the L-Acoustics name and reputation for exemplary sound will certainly appeal to musical acts coming into the venue.
“We feel that this system really helps gives us an advantage in attracting top musical artists passing through San Antonio to perform here.”