Daktronics Provides Clemson Tigers With A Roaring New Sound System

Daktronics recently upgraded the audio system at Clemson University’s Frank Howard Field with JBL VLA line arrays

Frank Howard Field at Clemson Memorial Stadium is the home of the NCAA Clemson University Tigers and has hosted some of the biggest artists in pop music including the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, U2 and many others. Affectionately known as “Death Valley” among Clemson fans, the 81,500-seat stadium recently underwent a major audio system makeover with the installation of 30 HARMAN JBL VLA Series line array elements.

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Brookings, South Dakota-based systems integrator Daktronics designed, built and installed a new main scoreboard system complete with a 61-foot wide by 21-foot high video display and JBL VLA901H, VLA601H and VLA301H full-range loudspeakers arranged in custom-built steel framing at the top of the scoreboard tower.

“The audio system completes a full-on media experience when used with the stadium’s video displays,” said Mike Maloney of Daktronics. “The sound system is used for announcements, music, videos, audio reinforcement for the marching bands on the field and of course, for the roaring Clemson Tiger!”

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“Clemson Stadium is mammoth, and the upper deck ‘wings’ on the sides are higher than most stadiums which means that the loudspeakers have to have a throw distance of more than 700 feet at some points,” Maloney said. “After modeling the stadium with EASE (Enhanced Acoustic Simulator for Engineers) software and exploring a variety of distributed loudspeaker designs and line arrays, we determined that the best results would be achieved using JBL VLA Series models.”

The large number of loudspeakers had to be placed in a relatively small space—the width of the space where they could be installed was limited by the width of the video display. The loudspeakers are located in a purpose-built weatherized housing. “The VLA Series cabinets are weatherized to begin with, but we wanted the added protection of putting them in a housing that resists the elements since the loudspeakers are outdoors 365 days a year,” Maloney noted.

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“We installed the VLA’s in the same location as the old loudspeakers, but since we had made the video board bigger we had to rebuild the structure above the board,” Maloney continued. “We re-used the existing structural columns to support the video display and the base of the sound system, but everything above that point is new construction.”

The loudspeakers are arranged in a center cluster of three line arrays, one aimed directly forward, closely flanked by two arrays aimed towards the left and right of the stadium. The center array is comprised of eight JBL VLA loudspeakers. The top four are VLA301H loudspeakers. The next two models in the array are VLA601H, with two VLA901H loudspeakers at the bottom of the center array. The left and right arrays each include eight VLA601H loudspeakers. This main center cluster is augmented by two side fill arrays of three VLA301H loudspeakers at the far sides of the scoreboard and two JBL PD5200/95-WRC loudspeakers to deliver down fill sound to the area below the scoreboard. The loudspeakers are powered by 54 Crown I-Tech HD Series amplifiers and system control is provided by BSS London Architect and HARMAN HiQnet System Architect™, with a customized Daktronics Announcer computer interface. The Crown I-Tech HD amplifiers also handle loudspeaker DSP.

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“This arrangement enabled us to use the center-most array to cover the far end zone seats and the field, while the left- and right-center arrays provide sound for the side seating and the side fills cover the nearest parts of the upper deck,” said Maloney. “In particular, the JBL VLA301H gave us the ability to project sound to the farthest seats in the stadium and provided the pattern control we needed to get a good blend between all the line arrays.”

“We have installed audio systems in more than 300 stadiums and arenas,” concluded Maloney, “but building one that can be heard over more than 81,000 fans is always an unusual and interesting challenge.”

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