In Steven’s Point, Wisconsin, K.B. Willett Ice Arena, part of the city’s park system, is home to the entire community’s ice hockey and figure skating teams. Shared by two high schools and the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point, the arena hosts events ranging from high school figure skating performances to college-level hockey games, as well as community programs such as Learn to Skate.
While the community has enjoyed the arena for decades, it became clear this past year that the arena’s audio system was in need of an upgrade.
“The old system was very 80s. It had a couple of really large, heavy power amps that generated a lot of heat for very little return,” says Brian Baumann, A/V systems design engineer at Soundworks Systems, Inc., the integration firm hired to design and install the new audio system. “There were four speakers in a cluster in the middle of the rink that just blasted out sound in every direction. It made lots of noise but you couldn’t understand a word that was said because of the reflections off of the glass, concrete walls and wooden bleachers. There was a lot of noise but no intelligibility.”
Located just a mile down the road, Soundworks Systems, Inc. was hired to install a Powersoft loudspeaker solution into the arena. The project included the installation of two amplifier models, Powersoft’s Ottocanali and Deucanali amplifiers.
“The real star here is the Ottocanali 12K4 model which has eight channels of amplification. It has enough power of each channel to run the speakers that we put in, which were One System’s 112IMs,” says Baumann. “In one, two space amplifier I have eight channels of amplification or zones, and I have ten zones total.”
Powersoft’s Duecanali powers the ninth zone which amplifies sound on the ice and the tenth zone which amplifies the concession area and locker rooms.
The installation of the new audio system went smoothly, although Soundworks did have to do some problem-solving.
“In order to get all of the wattage available out of the amplifier, it needed a 240 volt power from the wall, and everything that existed in this system was 120,” says Baumann. “So we had to call an electrician to come in and run a circuit. Fortunately, Powersoft built in a low voltage relay on the back of the amplifier that I could pretty easily wire into the existing 120 volt sequencer with just a simple 120 volt relay closure.”
For other arenas, gymnasiums and auditoriums looking to implement an audio solution such as Powersoft’s, it’s important for project leaders, especially those unfamiliar with audio technology, to communicate with integrators as to the goals they are trying to achieve with the new installation.
“When it comes to the education arenas, what we often find is there seems to be a fear of audio from an educator’s side. It’s really important to communicate with the integrator as to how you’re using the space and to ensure the system gives you the results you need,” says Baumann.
With the installation of Powersoft’s Ottocanali and Deucanali amplifiers, players and fans can now clearly hear announcements during games and performances at Willett Ice Arena. According the Baumann, the project was a success.
“The feedback we’ve received has been mostly from venue manager Bob Gregorich and it’s all been positive.”