The new $85 million UMBC Event Center is the long-anticipated new home for indoor sporting events at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and in addition it serves as a flexible venue for hosting concerts, convocations and graduations, trade shows and other events. About 4,700 fans are accommodated for UMBC Retrievers basketball and volleyball games, with uniform audio coverage and “pump ‘em up” power supplied by a distributed system based on Meyer Sound’s new LINA™ very compact line arrays.
The new Meyer Sound LINA system is the centerpiece of a complete AV package designed and installed by Baltimore-based Design & Integration. According to project engineer Kevin Barrett, his company worked with university technical and managerial staff to come up with the optimum, long-term solution for a house reinforcement system.
“The audiovisual consultant based a performance specification on an alternative, externally powered system but listed Meyer Sound as an approved option,” he says. “We decided to pursue the Meyer Sound solution and discovered it offered a number of advantages. We came up with a design that not only would meet or exceed all the performance numbers, but also would fit into a smaller footprint, reduce installation costs, and provide more configuration flexibility along with detailed system confidence monitoring.”
The thorough system selection process also factored in the university’s prior experience with Meyer Sound LEO® Family line array systems.
“We have a portable system based around 24 LEOPARD™ line array loudspeakers and it has served us very well in the old Retrievers Activities Center and for many outdoor events,” says Sam Zuckerman, head audio technician and sound engineer for university events. “We were very happy with the LEOPARDs and wanted to continue working with Meyer. And the new LINA system has delivered as promised. The coverage is very even, and the clarity is outstanding for spoken word events such as commencements. And at the games I’ve attended it really gets the crowd pumped up. It definitely has plenty of punch.”
The new system is anchored by five arrays of eight each LINA loudspeakers for coverage of the U-shaped main bowl. Three 1100-LFC low frequency control elements supply convincing impact for deep bass effects, while two UPQ-1P loudspeakers are flown as court fills. Two GALAXY™ 816 networked processors handle overall system drive and optimization.
Although owned by the university, the UMBC Event Center contracts with the Oak View Group to handle venue operations and outside concert and event bookings. Frantzer LeBlanc, Oak View Group’s director of events and operations at UMBC, is pleased with the power, clarity and versatility of the house audio system at his disposal.
“The major touring acts that play concerts here will carry their own production, but we’re delighted with the way our house system is taking care of everything else,” says LeBlanc. “In addition to UMBC Retrievers games we’ve hosted community church services, well-known speakers, martial arts competitions and trade show events. The performance has been really, really good for all of them. The sound conforms to the bowl in a way that gives a sense of intimacy despite the size. We also really appreciate how easily and effectively we can zone the system to cover only designated seating areas when we’re using part of the arena.”
Although specifying a highly compact line array system for a mid-sized auditorium may seem somewhat audacious, Design & Integration’s Kevin Barrett was confident of the outcome.
“Although LINA was not even shipping when we did our initial design, we were confident based on Meyer Sound’s reputation and on what we had heard from its predecessor, MINA, at another installation we’d done recently,” he remarks. “I knew that with the power inside the box, and with the precise tuning options available in GALAXY to deal with the reverberant space, we could make LINA work. I knew it would sound great, and it does.”
The full AV installation provided by Design & Integration also includes an Allen & Heath digital mixer with D-Live control surface and MixRack engine. A QSC Q-Sys network backbone ties together the arena bowl system with all back-of-house systems. Design & Integration also supplied a comprehensive broadcast cabling system, distributed CATV video systems, and both wired and wireless production intercom systems.
Located on a hilltop campus in Catonsville, about eight miles from downtown Baltimore, UMBC has a total enrollment of over 13,000 students. The university’s Retrievers athletic teams compete in the NCAA Division 1 America East Conference.