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VUE Brings State-of-the-Art Immersive Sound to Historic Bojangles’ Coliseum

Bojangles' Colosseum during the commissioning.
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Boasting an incredible 60-year history of sports and entertainment, Bojangles’ Coliseum has played host to events ranging from Led Zeppelin to Sesame Street, Rev. Billy Graham to Ray Charles, and Les Misérables to the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers. The city of Charlotte, NC, approved a $16 million budget for renovation of the venue, including new seats, updated concession stands and club areas, a new scoreboard and video display and, of course, a new sound system comprised exclusively of VUE Audiotechnik’s al-Class loudspeakers.

Originally known as the Charlotte Coliseum when it opened in September 1955, Bojangles’ Coliseum was designed for hockey, basketball and concerts. At the time, it was the largest unsupported steel dome in the world and was Charlotte’s first major civic auditorium.

“Bojangles’ Coliseum became a premiere venue in Charlotte and, to this day, remains one of the strongest buildings in the world,” says Jeff Taylor, VP Americas, VUE Audiotechnik. “Everyone from Elvis to The Beatles has played there. They literally removed the same sound system those bands used to install the new VUE system. It replaced a system that was more than 50 years old!”

The impetus for overhauling the arena, adds Taylor, came from the local AHL hockey team, the Charlotte Checkers, who now call the stadium home. “The Checkers wanted a new facelift to the building,” he says. “Of course Jeff McManus (Technical Director of Bojangles’ Coliseum) wanted a state-of-the-art sound system. When touring events come to Bojangles’, they would typically rent a PA from the local vendor, Paragon Productions in Rock Hill, SC, who is a VUE rental house, so that’s where the idea came for installing a VUE system.”

To upgrade the PA system, 56 al-8 and 40 al-4 Scalable Line Array modules, all powered by V6 and V4 System Engines, were installed. The entire system is controlled over ethernet using SystemVUE software. The setup consists of ten line-array columns hung in a distributed ring around the room, with two more columns for floor coverage. This allows for one of the floor columns to be hung in two different positions, depending on the type of event: it can be part of the ring for sporting events or can be turned around to act as a center cluster for a stage event.

Jeff Taylor with InterTech Installation Crew hanging the system

The VUE replaces the original Altec System form the 50’s

The NEW sound system: al-8 with al-4 Combo Loudspeaker Arrays

“We first heard about VUE Audiotechnik loudspeakers through Alan Smith, owner of Paragon Productions,” says McManus. “Jeff Taylor conducted the demo; he, Alan and I all made significant contributions to the system design. The VUE al-8s provided the best bang for the buck and were a no-brainer. They are well constructed, lightweight and, the way they are hung, they are visually inconspicuous to most people.”These characteristics were particularly important for the Bojangles’ Coliseum installation. “The room is an extreme acoustical challenge that has caused a lot of gray hair and early baldness for many sound engineers over the years,” explains McManus. “No acoustic treatment has ever been done to the room due to our budget. The solution in this design was to try to put the speakers as physically close to as many listeners as possible via a distributed line array design, while the box counts and amplifiers were reduced in order to stay within budget, as opposed to compromising quality. The system is a modular line array, so it can be augmented at any time.”

Intelligibility of the spoken word is most important with sporting events, theatrical productions and graduations, and using a distributed design was very effective in achieving that goal,” maintains Taylor. “The al-8’s three-way operation has inherently good vocal quality and excellent pattern control in general. The Constant Source Topology allows us to combine al-8s with al-4s in the same line source, as needed. In this case we use al-4s at the lower part of the array where less energy is required, so we’re able to get the vertical coverage required while reducing cost and weight and controlling the amount of sound energy created by the array in a particular area.”

The room and arrays were modeled by VUE using AFMG’s EASE FOCUS 2.5.1 software to set the position and angles for each array, Inter Technologies staffers working with Stage Rigging Services to tweak the physical positions of the arrays to match the FOCUS model such that proper coverage as predicted in the model was achieved.

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VUE V6 & V4 Systems Engines (dsp amplifiers)

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Brand new YAMAHA console.

Additional improvements to the sound system include a Yamaha QL5 32-in/16-out digital-mixing console, Yamaha RIO1608-D stage box, BSS Audio London BLU-160 Soundweb processing, Tascam rack mount Cd players, Audio Technica wireless microphones, Furman power conditioning  and a switched ethernet control network with WiFi access to control the system via iPad including a beta version of systemVUE on iOS. Dale Miller, Project Manager at Inter Technologies Corporation, Raleigh, NC, was the project supervisor and Stage Rigging Services in Greensboro, NC, provided the rigging. Bojangles’ Coliseum continues to maintain its busy schedule, presenting a wide variety of events. “We have done a lot of hockey games, several graduations, high school wrestling and a church service since the system was installed,” says McManus. “Everyone noticed huge improvements and the local schools no longer have to rent PAs for their graduations in order to have a top-quality event. This will save the community a lot of money now and down the road. The system has good punch to it and surprising bottom end, considering there are no subwoofers installed yet. We initially thought not having subs would be a real problem but for the type of events we do, it really has not been an issue. The system is great as it is, and is a colossal improvement over what we had here in the past.”

The completed Bojangles' colosseum

The completed Bojangles’ colosseum