Clair Brothers Audio Systems and JBL Raise the Roof at BC Place

Clair Brothers Audio installed a total of 160 JBL VLA Series line array loudspeakers at the renovated BC Place in Vancouver

Even by stadium standards, Vancouver, Canada’s BC Place stands out. The newly renovated stadium boasts the world’s largest cable-supported retractable roof and dominates the city’s False Creek waterfront like a gigantic glittering jewel set at river’s edge. The renovations include a state-of-the-art audio system, highlighted by HARMAN’s JBL VLA line arrays installed by Clair Brothers Audio Systems.

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BC Place, which reopened on September 30, 2011, is home of the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League and the Vancouver Whitecaps FC of Major League Soccer, and has hosted year-round major events including the 2010 Winter Olympics. When owners B.C. Pavilion Corporation (PavCo), decided to renovate BC Place, they knew they had to think big. Indeed, BC Place has been modernized inside and out–including a massive JBL VLA Series loudspeaker system comprising no less than 160 JBL VLA601-WRC 3-way line array loudspeakers, making this the largest VLA installation to date.

“We needed loudspeakers that could provide a lot of output and could cover that large space,” noted Jim Devenney, Senior Engineer, Clair Brothers. “The problem with the older sound system was that the stadium sounded like a cave, which would have become a much bigger problem after adding millions of cubic feet to the building!”

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Clair Brothers chose the VLA601-WRC loudspeakers, which employ three 2431H 1.5-inch exit/3-inch diaphragm high-frequency horn-loaded compression drivers with a 60-degree horizontal coverage pattern, two CMCD-82H 8-inch-cone midrange compression drivers and two 2226H 15-inch woofers loaded into JBL’s WRC weatherized enclosures. Derived from JBL’s VerTec® Series line array systems, VLA Series loudspeakers are designed to provide high-SPL sound at throw distances beyond the reach of traditional loudspeaker designs and offer a choice of 30, 60 and 90-degree horizontal horn coverage patterns.

“We use the VLA Series line arrays in a lot of stadium and arena projects because of the defined coverage they provide, and because good articulation is important in spaces like this,” Devenney said.

Installing the speakers was a challenge, according to Devenney. “We deployed 12 clusters of 11 speakers each, arranged in an oval ring to cover the seating areas, along with 28 VLA601-WRC’s under the scoreboard to cover the field,” he said. “In addition, we placed two JBL PD Series loudspeakers to fill the area underneath the scoreboard.”

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BC Place previously had an inflatable dome roof, with the audio and lighting equipment hung from the roof. The new retractable roof has an open space in the middle, and all of the JBL VLA601-WRC clusters hang off winches. “We had to work closely with all the other parties involved in the renovation to coordinate the installation,” Devenney said. “We had very little time to hang the clusters because they were putting down the artificial turf at the same time. We actually built the clusters outside of the stadium and brought them in on a truck to set them up quickly.”

Despite the challenges involved, the project was completed on time and the system provides the requisite combination of power and smooth coverage. “In the end we came up with an elegant and effective solution to match the expectations of audiences that visit this impressive facility,” Devenney concluded.

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