The Legacy Arena, a 19,000-seat venue within the Birmingham/Jefferson Convention Complex in downtown Birmingham, AL, recently underwent an audio overhaul under the direction of consultants Wrightson, Johnson, Haddon & Williams (WJHW, based in Carrollton, TX) and integration firm ESB Group (Springville, AL) that incorporates a variety of RCF components, including HDL 28-A line arrays and HDL 36-A subwoofers.
The facility is unique in terms of its functionality, explains WJHW senior consultant Guillermo Wabi: “Imagine you have a venue with six unique areas, all having different sizes, elevations, and acoustic signature, while being open to each other, and having to be adaptable to multi-use scenarios. To design a sound system for those areas that sounds clear, intelligible, and balanced to everyone, along with providing performance and flexibility and to be configurable for multiple scenarios by the venue staff, while also having limitations in maximum weight, size, and budget — it was quite a challenge.
“The primary sound system needed to be compact and lightweight with the acoustic performance and flexibility to cover not only the seating areas but also meet the various venue configurations for sports and live concerts,” he continues. “The support system [outside the arena] needed to match at the delay and fill positions, the tonal and acoustic qualities of the primary system, while maintaining an aesthetically pleasing formfactor. Since the arena concourse areas were redesigned to an open format, we wanted the back of house system to have a similar tonal quality as the primary and secondary systems. Often when you design a system for a project like this, there must be a minimum of three systems to choose from, especially when using government funds. RCF became one of the three systems because of the variety of products and accessories in their portfolio that matched with the project needs and budget.”
The new system is comprised of 112 HDL 28-A full-range line array modules and 24 flyable HDL 36-A subwoofers for the center of the arena, along with selection of MR- and C-Series loudspeakers for 40 zones. “Arenas are always a very difficult environment to achieve intelligibility,” says Drew Breland, design engineer at ESB Group. “We’re always impressed with RCF performance, and it’s proven itself in this space.”
When the acoustical challenges sorted out, a few more practical issues presented themselves, Breland adds. “When it came time to plan for the install of the arrays, we found we were limited with where we can put our motors to adjust the proper angle. We worked with outside fabricators to design custom brackets for this particular system. A ‘spine’ system allowed each array to hang firmly in place from a horizontal top bar, while also allowing for each box to be in their corresponding angle. We could rotate the array vertically, as well as offset the position horizontally with pinpoint accuracy. Installation time for the first array took about an hour and half to figure out our center of gravity. From there the other seven arrays took about five hours in total. All arrays were up within eight hours.”
An integrated support system covered areas throughout the arena, under balcony, luxury suites, and corridors. “We installed various C-Series speakers, filling in all areas under balconies, supplemental to the main system,” Breland explains. “We also installed 25 MR-Series boxes for the back of house areas to provide additional coverage for the 12 suites. The arrays cover much of those areas, but it was important that every seat, in the back of the suites, had an equal listening experience.
RDNET was deployed to control the primary bowl system, with the sound team spending a few days tuning with RCF senior system engineer Oscar Mora. “All things considered we felt the installation was very successful in space,” concludes Breland.