In honour of the University of California-Irvine’s 50th anniversary, the school recently invited US President Barack Obama to give the commencement address to this year’s graduates. The ceremony was held at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California.

To ensure that the crowd of 30 000 – seated on the field and in the stands – didn’t miss a word, the university contracted Goodman Audio Services, based near Anaheim, to handle sound reinforcement for the prestigious event.

Trace Goodman, president and senior audio designer, was tasked with designing a PA that could reach seating as far as 180 metres away from the stage.

“Originally we thought about putting together a distributed array system, but cables, power and placement was going to be a challenge and coverage to the upper levels would have been almost non-existent. We needed to come up with a different option,’ he explains.

Goodman had been to a number of EAW demos of the new Anya system and its adaptive array technology allows each module to assess and perfectly match the 3D performance requirement of the venue, it would easily cover the distance required. After working with EAW’s Bernie Broderick and the ASG team, who used EAW’s Resolution software to configure the system, Goodman was confident that Anya would do the job.

“We put together a large speech system that’s primary purpose was to make sure that everyone in the stadium could hear the President’s commencement address. It worked perfectly.’

The system design consisted of 28 Anya cabinets. PA towers were constructed 36 metres apart to the left and right of the stage. Because of the distance between the towers, Goodman opted not to set them up in traditional left-right hangs. Instead, each tower consisted of two arrays. The primary/outside array of 12 Anya modules were set to cover either the left or right seating areas with minimal overlap. The secondary/inside array, made up of two Anya modules, provided infill for the field seating area.

“Because the towers were so far apart, overlapping would have caused some serious multiple arrival times in the far left and far right seating areas,’ explains Goodman. “Each array would be off to its opposite array by a minimum of 105 milliseconds. Instead we had the two outside arrays just overlap enough to fill in the centre stadium seating area. You could not hear any multiple arrival times with the two arrays overlapping at the 150 metre mark. It worked perfectly.’

In addition to the Anya modules, Goodman also hung EAW NTL720s (four per side) for additional front fill. The self-powered, 3-way line array loudspeaker modules provided ample coverage for the seats close to the 18 x 6 metre stage. EAW NT59 loudspeakers were used to cover seating on the stage.