Long Beach, CA | February, 2014 - Covered on the outside by one of the world's largest murals, "Planet Ocean," The Long Beach Arena is an unmistakable part of the city's skyline. Built in the early 1960s as part of the greater Long Beach Convention Center, the Arena is also an unrivaled cornerstone of entertainment in Southern California, hosting events ranging from the first NHL game in 1967 and the 1984 Olympic volleyball tournaments, to acts as diverse as Cirque Du Soleil, Iron Maiden, Run-D.M.C and Disney on Ice.
The Arena's Pacific Ballroom, along with the rest of the Convention Center, has recently reopened after a massive series of renovations. The Ballroom's new state-of-the-art audio, lighting, and curtaining system — the largest ceiling grid in the country — has been recognized by Venues Today magazine with an Ops and Tech Award. The system has helped to transform the Arena into even more of a multi-functional venue, enabling the 46,000 sq. foot, 200 foot long elliptical floor to be partitioned for use without the surrounding arena seating, and arranged in a wide range of configurations.
But while the curtain does wonders to partition and conceal the arena seating and frame the flat floor, it does little for the acoustics of the space. Indeed, the Arena's vast acoustics presented a challenge in finding a sound system flexible enough to meet the demands of its wide-ranging roster of events.
Working with architectural firm John Fisher & Associates, engineering firm JR Clancy, and installers Pro Sound, Burbank, CA-based Electronsonic created an audio system to address the Arena's diverse needs. The system, which mounts on a moveable ceiling grid, comprises left and right hangs of ten Renkus-Heinz IC2 digitally steerable array cabinets per side. Each array is augmented by eight IC118S subwoofers for low frequency power and punch. As Electrosonics Andy Batwinas explains, it's a concept that has never really been implemented on this scale.
"The grid itself can lower to 30 feet for smaller events, and raise up to 70 feet for games and larger events," says Batwinas. A series of connection points allow the speaker arrays to move around the grid depending on the desired configuration. Once in place, the IC2 arrays' digitally steered beam technology enables them to be configured to cover only the areas needed, steering sound away from the hall's reflective outer areas. The grid can also lowered and removed for events like a Cirque Du Soleil show, providing full access to the 75-foot ceiling, and the IC2 arrays can be removed from the grid and ground stacked as well.
"The IC2 delivers such even sound pressure level from front to back," Batwinas says. "When we did the demo, it was set up at the far end of the arena and shot down the long way. You could walk the whole space, cover the floor, and keep it a solid 98 db SPL from one side to the other."
The system is networked using RHAON control, enabling the Arena's technical crew to implement preset coverage configurations for different event needs, and making quick changeovers possible with the press of a button.
"The IC2 steered beam technology made it a vastly superior alternative to a standard line array system," Batwinas observes. "With the IC2 you can aim the sound down to the floor so it's not bouncing off the architecture."
Based on the success of the IC2 system, a Renkus-Heinz system of 18 VARIA modular point source arrays and 12 VA15S subwoofers was added to cover the Arena's 19,000 square foot Lobby area and 29,000 square foot concourse. The VARIA's modular design and variable dispersion patterns enable the systems to be custom configured for the area's different ballrooms, theaters, halls, and atrium. Additionally, 16 CFX81 loudspeakers were installed in the ceiling of the Arena's lobby for added foreground coverage.
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