The University of Utah recently updated its Rice-Eccles Stadium with a complete
audio system from HARMAN Professional Solutions. Dallas-based sound and visual
consultant WJHW was hired to design the new system, and local systems integrator
Performance Audio provided installation services. The university wanted to replace
its old point source sound system to reduce community noise impact in nearby
residential areas and provide a better audio experience for audiences. To meet
these goals, WJHW designed an innovative distributed audio solution made up of JBL
speakers, Crown power amplifiers and BSS Audio networked audio systems.
“The university was really forward-thinking in terms of reducing the noise impact on
the community while also delivering high-quality sound, and they were willing to do
what it took to achieve both,’ said Jack Wrightson, Principal at WJHW. “Column
arrays, as we’ve used before, wouldn’t work in this stadium because the throw
distances were too far. They wanted a bigger and more impactful system, so we
really had to create a one-of-a-kind solution to make it all work.’
Rice-Eccles is a large, single-bowl stadium with nowhere to hang speakers other
than six light towers. WJHW developed a concept that involved adding 17 50-foot
speaker poles around the upper rim of the stadium to mount the loudspeakers.
Weight and wind were major concerns from a structural engineering standpoint, and
they wanted to use the smallest speakers possible while still delivering the required
output. WJHW system designer Michael Murph selected new JBL Precision Directivity
Series PD743i-215 speakers for their compact size and full-bandwidth output. For
the light towers, they selected JBL Variable Line Array (VLA) Series loudspeakers.
The entire system is powered by Crown DriveCore Install Series amplifiers.
“When you’re putting something on top of a 50-foot pole, the weight and surface
area to the wind are really important,’ said Wrightson. “The PD700i Series speakers
are a combination of reasonable weight and a small package, which was important
for the pole mounting.’
Once the speakers were installed, Performance Audio and WJHW spent three days
adjusting the DSP, and tuning and balancing the massive system. The audio teams
were up against a tight deadline to complete the project—the university needed the
entire system ready in time to host the 2016 Nitro World games, a major action
sports competition. To complicate the process even further, they had to work in the
middle of the night to avoid interfering with a municipal train line that runs behind
the stadium. By working with HARMAN Professional Solutions, Performance Audio
and WJHW were able to streamline the entire installation process, quickly deal with
any unexpected challenges and complete the project on schedule.
“One of the great things about this project was the integration and communication
between the HARMAN brands,’ said Jake Peery, Install Manager and Systems
Designer at Performance Audio. “It was a really large project for us, and having
that partnership gave us a ton of confidence—I wouldn’t want to do it any other