Chilliwack Prospera Centre
Prospera Centre / August 2015
Prospera Centre, a 5,000-seat arena that is home to the Chilliwack Chiefs Junior A hockey team, had all the right speakers and related equipment, but the sound quality was terrible. They also didn’t have a huge budget to redo the audio system.
Reconfigure and re-use much of the existing equipment, redo the equipment rack and include an innovative and user-friendly control panel for speaker zones.
We wanted to make sure the hockey team staff, the figure skating club and the girl from reception could all make the sound system work with just a few buttons.
Looking a bit closer, we learned that there had been two sound system upgrades since the arena was built in 2004. The original installation was done well and to industry standards, using Community R-series weather-resistant speakers and commercial grade Crest power amplifiers, along with a digital signal processor, and excellent wiring practices in the rack and sound booth. About six years later a number of additional speakers were installed as well as more amplifiers, complete with a big rat’s nest of wiring in the back of the existing rack. Surplus sound equipmentnot used after this upgrade were left in the rack rather than being removed, severely crowding the rack. As a final insult, the ventilation fan at the top of the rack was installed backwards and was blowing hot air down, and into, the rack rather than pulling it out.
After meeting with Glen and listening to the sound system, our impression was that the speakers and most of the installed equipment was of good quality, but the execution of the secondary installation was the cause of the numerous issues that we found, resulting in poor intelligibility and performance. And he wanted a system that was easy to use.
Glen gave us the go-ahead to overhaul the arena’s sound system:
- Additional rack to space out the sound system equipment
- New digital signal processor (lectrosonics.com) for proper control of the 39 speakers in the arena
- Eight additional speakers in the restaurant and the red seating area under the restaurant
- Replacement of one defective amplifier, causing the concourse speakers to cut out
- Break up the speakers into seven zones
- Simplify the sound system operation
- Re-aim speakers for better sound coverage in the seats
- Proper level, time delay and equalization setting of all zones
- Install a new microphone/music connector for figure skaters
- Clean up all rack wiring to current industry standards
First up was relocating four of the speakers covering the red seats, as they were aimed at strange angles. The speakers were causing what is called ‘comb filtering’ in certain areas of the seats, which reduces intelligibility.
We found a couple of speakers were aimed incorrectly, probably due to a lacrosse ball hitting speaker brackets not fully tightened. All speakers were checked for installation integrity, and all bolts were tightened.
With a lot of arenas, the sound system is operated by many different people. We wanted to make sure the hockey team staff, the figure skating club and the girl from reception could all make the sound system work with just a few buttons. A simple switch panel in the A/V room provides staff with the ability to reconfigure the arena sound system to accommodate four different functions. A row of switches control output to seven separate speaker zones, with a graphic representation of the arena floor and seating indicating the selected zones.
When there are no events scheduled, the staff like to play background music. “They’ve got a small rack in the administration office that has a CD player and an AM/FM radio,” said Curt. “They can turn that on with the ‘Office’ switch. They’ve got a volume control in the office that remotely controls the gain of one of the input channels of the digital signal processor for the background music.”
A second switch labeled ‘Skate’ allows patrons to use a mic and music jack at ice level to run through the sound system for figure skating without having to turn on the main mixing console. A third switch, labeled “Mixer,” engages the mixing console and the speaker system throughout the arena seating, luxury suites, concourse and restaurant. The fourth and final switch combines the main arena with a smaller rink. “Next to the arena they have an ice surface with about 200 seats along one side. They keep the ice in there year round, whereas they pull the ice in and out every six months on the main arena side. That switch combines the sound and music sources for both rinks.”
“So the push buttons totally reconfigure the system how they want it. Unless there’s a trained sound guy running the 16-channel mix board, the office staff or a figure skater can run the entire sound system without having to go up to the sound room.”
We were back at Prospera Centre early in September for the Chief’s first home exhibition game and it was good news all around: the Chiefs have a very strong team this year, and the improved sound system ensures everyone can clearly hear the play-by-play.