Most Outstanding Players at 2006 NCAA Final Four: dB Sound Image and Electro-Voice (EV)
Given the logistics involved, contract holders turned to Chicago-based sound and production giant dB Sound Image to ensure everything would go off without a hitch. In turn, given the demands placed on them by the inner city’s layout, architectural constraints, and the sheer number of anticipated attendees, dB Sound Image designed a sound system that employed the use of all Electro-Voice loudspeakers, comprised mainly of X-Line Array and stalwart X-Array to carry clear musical program and intelligible announcements to nearly 100,000 people throughout an 8-block radius.
To power this amount of P.A., 86 Electro-Voice P-3000 power amplifiers were used, the same amplifiers made famous on recent Rolling Stones Tours by dB Sound. On the trials and successes of the event, dB Sound Image CEO and System Designer Harry Witz remarks: “We set up the whole front-of-house, tore it down, and then reset it up amidst tornado warnings, bad weather, etc. It had to be done - no laziness here! Then we basically plugged everything in and had no buzzes, no problems, no nothing. It was perfect. Then at the end of the event, there was a similar scenario as to when we came in: tornado warnings, bad weather, etc. However, everything considered, it went really well.“
Witz continues: “The city’s been very easy to work with. The police have been very cooperative to work with. The crowds were self-managed and in good behavior. It’s been a great experience.“
I guess Witz’s words aren’t that surprising. Indiana does have the reputation of being the “hospitality state“. Furthermore, what better state to hold the most significant three days of basketball? If the1986 Hoosiers retelling of underdog Milan’s upset over Muncie Central in the 1954 high school state basketball championship doesn’t convince you, consider that 12 of the largest high school basketball gyms in America are in Indiana. (Take heed ye fellow sound contractors!) Indiana is also the home of original basketball shoe endorser Chuck Taylor, as well as b-ball luminaries Oscar Robertson, George McGinnis, Rick Mount, Larry Bird, Steve Alford, and the greatest basketball coach of all time, sadly absent from this NCAA Final Four, John Wooden. As a video board read in Indiana’s Conseco Fieldhouse: “In 49 states it’s just basketball ... but this is Indiana.“
Besides basketball fanaticism, Indiana also prides itself on having borne John Mellencamp, a performer who returned to the state after stints in the big city. Apparently the man who sings about small towns, farms, and a slower pace of living, does actually prefer it. Once described as a Bruce Springsteen “without the substance“, Mellencamp has nonetheless penned a pocketful of songs that seem ensconced in the ether of radio. I’m fairly certain that the royalty checks aren’t that bad; last I checked, Mellencamp was doing a lot of painting - and I’m not talking about painting houses, pink, white, or otherwise. By all indications, he’s also become more of a political writer in recent years, abandoning the bubblegum that made him famous. Ironically, although Indiana can claim musical genius Cole Porter as one of its sons, it’s Mellencamp who has become the state’s pop music poet laureate. Given all things basketball and Mellencamp, it wasn’t any great epiphany for someone on some planning committee to contrive what became this year’s “Big Dance“ in Indy: the dribbling of basketballs to the sounds of Mellencamp. While they do seem to go together like beer and pretzels, I have to imagine that if the main concert programming had been up to the exemplars of college b-ball and their worshippers, hip hop and an audience of grilled mouths would’ve consumed Market Circle. But who’s to say talent buyers and production types are out of touch?
Harry Witz on Setting up the Main Market Circle Stage P.A.: “Although there are very limited weight, height, and size restrictions, not to mention all the buildings’ reflective surfaces, and by all indications between 50 and 100,000 people in attendance, we didn’t have any problem covering the 8 block radius with great audio. We did an NCAA in St. Louis with Joss Stone and Kelly Clarkson. We came in there with a small amount of PA - 8 EV Xsubs and 8 X-Line tops per side. I usually like to do one X-line top to one Xsub when doing outside shows. Anyway, the organizers were really happy with what we did. The good thing about it is that Kelly Clarkson typically uses an engineer with very high standards in sound reproduction and he gave us some nice compliments. He didn’t expect much and got a lot. I think his comment was “this X-Line thing is firing on all 8 cylinders isn’t it!’
“If you point a bunch of X-Line cabinets straight forward they’re going to sum really good and they’re going to throw like hell. Of all the P.A.s that I’ve ever played with or tried, the EV X-Line definitely has the most power and throws the farthest, without a doubt. So when we’re doing these kinds of shows, it’s just the thing to use.
“So, we’ve got the main P.A. at the monument pointing down Meridian Street. At the arch we have two columns of X-Array. I wouldn’t use line array here if you gave them to me. We’re using Xf ,Xf, Xf, Xb,Xb, Xb and the reason is is that they’re only 40-degrees horizontal and 20-degress vertical, and I’m hanging three of these on each side of the video screen. The reason for that is that they throw very far and have a very controlled, tight pattern and we want to keep them off the buildings. If we used a 90-degree box down those streets with the buildings it’d be horrendous, it’d be pinball… So even though the line array has a very controlled vertical pattern, horizontally it’s out there. So that’s what’s pointing down Meridian.
“With the EV X-Line, we could have made the arrays twelve boxes high but I was already worried about bouncing sound off of the walls. We wanted to get the SUB lobe tightened in so we could shoot the sound down the street and the sound wouldn’t bounce around. I used ArrayShow to map out from the center of the stage to the first cone in the subs - from there I added 18-inches on each for each cone of six cones in a row, then I did some plots. There are three stacks of sub cabinets next to each other, the first cabinet is delayed 8 feet, the middle column of is delayed 4 feet and the outside column is at zero. You can almost look at it geometrically as to what angle it puts it on. When you look at it in ArrayShow you can see how it really tightens up that lobe.
“With this specific system design, I really tried to subscribe to what is called an arithmetic or spiral array. If you use EV’s LAPS (Line Array Prediction Software) and you’re trying to create a flat line, all kinds of weird things can be done to create that flat line. What I prefer to do is something that’s called an arithmetic array or spiral array. The space between the first cabinet and the second cabinet is one, the space between the second and third is two, and between the next one is three, and the next is four… That’s 1+2 = 3, 2+3 = 5, etc. That’s the basis of the arithmetic array. If you do that, any one cabinet that puts out a lobe and any two of them will put out this classic butterfly lobe where you have two big nulls happening. Then, if you put three together you start getting more nulls. And, when you’ve got a big curve that’s very even or a J shape, you get a bunch of combing going on even if you do get a flat line.
“So, if a cabinet adjacent to one side of every cabinet is different spacing from the other side of it, then it kind of eliminates that and makes it a very even and interesting lobe. I may then have to go in a do a little bit of amplitude shading. I don’t usually screw around with amplitude shading on the whole cabinet because that part of the lobe is very predictable in LAPS - same on the mids - but if you left the highs on full blast on the bottom, you’d be melting people’s faces off. So, when you spread from 90- to 120-degrees By using Xlvt cabinets you’re losing a couple of dB, taking energy and spreading it out. So, I think the bottom cabinets are -3db on the horns only and the rest are flat out with the exception of the top four cabinets are +3. From top to bottom the horns probably vary in out put because the top pairs are pointed in the same direction and the bottom ones are spread out as far as they can… There’s probably a difference of 12 dB output from top to bottom, part of it due to the physics of the array and part because they’re amplitude shaded about 6 dB.“
Equipment List: Main P.A., Stage (facing down Meridian Street):
(2) arrays of (11) EV X-Line per side, flown. Comprised of (9) Xvls and (2) Xvlt, per side.
(3) stacks of (4) EV Xsubs per side
Power amplification, Main P.A.:
Each flown array powered by three racks of amps for a total of (12) EV P-3000 per side. Subs powered by two racks of (4) P-3000 each for (8) amps per side.
24- EV Xw15 monitors
X-Array (2) Xf and (2) Xb per side
First Delay Tower (335’ from main stage) (facing down Meridian Street):
(2) hangs of EV X-Array - (3) Xf and (3) Xb per side - flanking video screen All EV P-3000 amplification
Second delay tower (480’ from main stage) (facing down Meridian Street):
(2) hangs of X-Array (2) Xf, (1) Xb, (1) Xn per side All EV P-3000 amplification
Side street delay towers (each side of Market Circle):
(2) hangs of X-Array, (3) Xf (1) Xb (1) Xn per side (each street) All EV P-3000 amplification
Second side street delay towers (facing both sides of Washington Street):
(2) hangs of X-Array, (2) Xf, (1) Xb, (1) Xn per side (each street) All EV P-3000 amplification
(4) X-Array Xn loudspeakers per side of Market Circle fountain itself
Harry Witz on Power Amplification: “Since 1979 I’ve owned hundreds of amplifiers from all manufacturers; I don’t know a lot of people who have owned more. Anyway, we did a test in the early “90s when X-Array was coming out. EV wanted us to test EV amps. We didn’t really want to. They weren’t “brand names“ at the time. What we did was a double blind test. We ran signal into a test unit and then into stacks of amplifiers and then the output back into the unit and into the same stack of P.A. There was no variance. Every amp manufacturer was going into the same speakers, and everybody was matched within a tenth of a volt of each other, so there was no variance there. We also had it on remote so you could switch between all of the amps. And there was a randomizer with the remote so you wouldn’t know which amp stack was powering the P.A.
“Here’s the experiment: ’okay experts, what stack of amps are you listening to?’ Begrudgingly we tested the EV amps amidst our favorites. Then something interesting happened. Everyone favored the EV amps, especially for low end. The engineers said, ’Hey our ears are fatigued, let’s come back tomorrow.’ Well, we did... three days in a row and everyone picked EV for both lows and most of the highs. It really was surprising that we all picked EV. That said, our initial order was over 400 amps. Three years later we hadn’t serviced one of them, which far surpasses any of my other inventory. I have EV P-3000 amps currently that are going on ten years old, have been around the world many times, have millions of miles on them, have been through dust and dirt, had fans in the racks break, and still work. Amazing.
“EV amps also electrically match the components in the speakers we use. That’s another cool thing. An EVX-180B just about runs out of mechanical gas and electrical capacity when the amplifier has little juice left to deliver and we use pairs of the 180’s on one channel of a P-3000; we use four 12’s on one channel. It all matches up really well.“
NCAA Events The main stage at Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis played host to “The Big Dance“ where musical guests included Steve Holy, BoDeans, Hoobastank, and Indianapolis’ own Virgin Millionaires on Saturday, April 1st. During the afternoon the stage featured the Tip-Off Ceremony and World’s Largest Pep Rally featuring school bands and cheerleading squads from all four teams and guest celebrity Nick Lachey. Later that evening The Big Dance Hoops Party commenced with the Live Men’s Final Four Telecast from CBS Affiliate WISH-TV. Fans braved weather in the 40s and winds to nurse beers and support their favorite teams.
The following day, Sunday, April 2nd, Coca-Cola sponsored MyCokeFest, a free, all day concert featuring American Idol’s Carrie Underwood, The Wreckers w/ Michelle Branch, Collective Soul and Chris Brown. Later in the evening John Cougar Mellencamp performed despite increasingly inclement weather. Tearing through sets of barn burning classics including “Jack & Diane“, “Hurts So Good“, and “Pink Houses“, and “R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.“, Mellencamp kept the audience reveling until almost the weather turned, tornado sirens blared and fans were evacuated out of Monument Circle.
Conclusion While it was Florida’s Joakim Noah who went home with the NCAA’s “Most Outstanding Player“ title, dB Sound Image and EV are equally most outstanding players for performing in the face of severe weather whilst still providing Indianapolis, basketball fans, and the attendees of both The Big Dance and My Cokefest with clear and intelligible sound. Congratulations, gentlemen, on a well played game.
Electro-Voice (EV), is a professional audio brand of Telex Communications, Inc., a leader in the design, manufacture and marketing of sophisticated audio, wireless, multimedia, aircraft, broadcast and communications equipment for commercial, professional and industrial customers. Telex Communications markets its products in more than 80 countries under the brands EV, Telex, RTS, Dynacord, Midas, Klark Teknik and others.
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