What better time to do a sound system upgrade than when an arena is shut down due to Covid19? We had quoted the sound system upgrade of the Sandman Arena in 2019, after our successful installation of the Hillside Stadium sound system, and in April of 2020 were awarded replacing the speaker systems and adding some additional speakers into their new lounge.
The 6000 seat Sandman arena was built in 1992, and 28 years later, still had virtually all of the original sound equipment in place. By our calculations, that’s 247,000 hours of operation. While there were a few blown speakers and amplifiers, by and large, the existing system still worked. After a comprehensive assessment in 2019, we discovered a few flaws:
– numerous speakers pointing down directly onto the ice surface, causing a large amount of reflections/reverberation between the ice and the roof of the building
– no digital delays installed between the ice speakers and the speakers further away from the ice, adding reverberation throughout the building
– no woofers/subwoofers installed, resulting in little sound below 100Hz, resulting in no deep bass from the system
– several blown amplifiers due to age
– poor use of multiple digital signal processors (DSP), adding to the noise floor of the sound system
– an excessive amount of amplifiers used, resulting in a large energy consumption while the system was not being used
– non fly-worthy hardware used to hang the speakers from the Wilson joists.
Sound Solutions proposed to upgrade the sound system with a new QSC Core 110f digital signal processor used to control the sound system, along with a replacement of all of the main speakers in the building. We also proposed to install two new double 15” subwoofers and a new QSC 4 channel amplifier to drive the subs, along with 12 new speakers for the Molson Lounge, located next to the box seats.
The QSC Core 110f now handles all of the signal processing, with comprehensive equalizers, crossovers and digital delays handling the signal flow and distribution to the amplifiers. Gone are multiple signal processors, daisy chained to each other, as the QSC can handle up to 128 inputs and outputs, making the system expandable in the future. An 8” touch screen replaced the mechanical speaker zone on/off switches, making for a more user friendly experience while setting the sound system levels. All sensitive equalizer and volume limiter functions are locked away within the software, giving the user access only to the volume settings. Even these are under password protected access, preventing unauthorized users from adjusting the sound system.
We changed the speakers over the spectator seating from a distributed downward firing design to a central cluster, with delay speakers over the seating area. This gives a more precise control over what is heard on the ice surface, and prevents sound from being reflected between the ice surface and the roof. By choosing new Community 15” 2 way speakers that have a 90 X 60 degree horn, we were able to eliminate 8 Peavey horns (and 4 amplifiers) from the system, as the new Community speakers covered both the lower and upper seating areas.
We added digital time delays to the concourse and balcony speakers, and a significant sound quality improvement was noted in these areas, as the speakers are now time delayed to the ones covering the ice surface. Using the parametric equalizer functions within the QSC Core 110f, we precisely dialed in the frequency response to be as flat as possible from all speaker zones. Again, significant improvements were made in the intelligibility of the sound system in all zones.
The two ElectroVoice EVF2151 1000 watt dual 15” subwoofers were hung on either side of the scoreboard, providing an additional octave of bass, from 40Hz to 100Hz. With a variable volume adjustment on the subs, the range of additional bass can be adjusted from significant ‘punch’ for a standing room only hockey game, to a subtle addition for figure skating events.
Twelve additional Prologue 8” 2 way speakers were added to the new Molson Lounge, so that direct sound would be enjoyed by the patrons viewing events. A remote volume control was installed at the entrance of the lounge, so that staff can independently control the speaker volume rather than needing to go to the sound room.
A new QSC CXD4K4 amplifier was installed with a redundant network to provide 1000 watts per channel for the subwoofers and the lounge speakers. All audio signals are sent to the amplifier via a CAT5 cable, with a second redundant network providing backup in case of a connection failure of the primary network. The touch screen monitors the amplifier continually, and alerts users of the sound system to any potential failures of the amplifier, such as a failed network, or overheating. The entire sound system can be monitored remotely for programming updates, as well as the status of the system.
Finally, we added feeds from the arena sound system to the two existing lounges, so the scores could be heard in these two areas that are removed from the arena if desired.
An emergency paging mic was located into the administration office that overrides all other functions of the sound system for building-wide paging purposes.
The installation took about 3 weeks to complete, with two technicians in charge of the 65’ boom lift to replace all of the speakers, and another to rewire the sound system racks. About 10 amplifiers were removed from the catwalk racks, with the QSC replacing one of them.
Upon a walk through of the empty arena, significant sound quality improvement was noted throughout all of the seating areas, with no dead spots noted. The new subwoofers covered the arena nicely, and provided plenty of bass without the amplifiers being run more than 50% of their rated power.
We also wish to thank Brendon Piche and Westcana Electric for partnering with us on this successful Kamloops project. JOB WELL DONE EVERYBODY!