The Mizzou Aquatic Center at the University of Missouri in Columbia, offering a 50-meter pool and diving well, has hosted numerous high-profile competitions, including Big 12 Swimming and Diving Championships, USA Swimming Series, and NCAA meets.
Since opening in 2005, the Aquatic Center had also been known for its problematic acoustics. With its soaring glass and concrete walls, steel roof, and abundance of reflective surfaces, announcements were literally drowning in the din. The situation was recently corrected with the installation of a new system headed by Renkus-Heinz Iconyx digitally steered column array loudspeakers.
“The original audio system never really provided the coverage they needed,” explains Brian Noerlinger, with the Overland Park, Kansas offices of Conference Technologies (CTI), which handled the project. “The speakers were mounted at about 56 feet high, and the intelligibility factor was close to nil.”
The ceiling’s height created strategic challenges as well. “One of our biggest obstacles was taking the old speakers down,” says Noerlinger. “The largest lift we could get into the building only went to 40 feet. Erecting a scaffold would have called for draining the pool, which wasn’t an option. So I put a couple of pieces of conduit together with a couple of pulleys and a spring and a rope, and essentially made a big long tree trimmer. I threw a rope around the speakers, pried them off and reached up and cut. I had one heck of an audience watching from below.”
As challenging as it was to get the old loudspeakers down, installing anything else at that height would have proven impossible. “The original plan had been for the Iconyx to be part of the design, along with hanging additional speakers to replace the old ones,” says Noerlinger. Instead, CTI worked with the Renkus-Heinz engineering team to design a system to cover the entire space using only three Iconyx columns.
Specifically, the new system incorporates a single Iconyx IC16-R-II column in the center, flanked by IC8-R-II columns on either side. “One of the IC8 columns covers the diving well area, with the IC16 at dead center and the other IC8 down at the far end of the pool,” says Noerlinger. “With just those three columns, we were able to achieve a consistent 110 dB coverage across the entire seating area.” A CFX218S dual 18 inch subwoofer adds low end punch and power to pump up the crowd.
Intelligibility is also dramatically improved, Noerlinger adds. “Having the ability to control our point sources and direct the sound exactly where we wanted it – and more importantly, to steer it away from the places we didn’t want it – made a tremendous difference. The sound in there now is crystal clear.”