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Author Topic: Looking for friendly advice on Ice Arena install.  (Read 1957 times)

Eric Frantz

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Looking for friendly advice on Ice Arena install.
« on: December 18, 2016, 12:09:53 am »

I live in a small town in rural Wisconsin and some friends from the local hockey program asked me for some help on installing an affordable sound system. They got a bid from a contractor for $10,000+ but have nowhere near that much money in their budget.  They said somewhere around $2500 might be more realistic.  We set up a pair of (hold the laughter) Active Mackie Thump 15s that we use for our local music in the park.  The pair was set up about 15 feet above the penalty box aimed out across the ice towards the 2 bleacher sections  (might hold 500 people total).  I know these speakers aren't high end stuff, but they actually sounded well on the rink and in the bleachers and were plenty loud.  I know ice arenas present a challenging acoustical environment, but with the foam ceiling tiles in there its not too shabby.  They currently have 4 cgm speakers (specs unknown) set up right in front of the bleachers and a soundtech powered mixer w/ about 300 watts @2 ohms mono output.  The stuff is really old, wore out and extremely rough on the ears to listen too!  Can't hear them on the rink either.

I'm a novice sound guy at best.  I'd like to believe I know a few things but fully admit I have much to learn.  Always reading articles & reviews to try and learn because i care about how music sounds.  I stumbled upon this website when reviewing Octosound speakers.  I figured this looks like a good place to get some legitimate advice.  Before I ask a bunch of questions and waste anyone's time, I just need one thing answered.  Is it okay to use powered speakers in an ice arena or will the heat inside from the amp cause condensation inside and ruin them?  I've heard a few people say it's okay.  The guy at Sweetwater says it's okay but I know he just wants to make a sale!  Any help here would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks much!
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Scott Holtzman

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Re: Looking for friendly advice on Ice Arena install.
« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2016, 12:24:59 am »

I live in a small town in rural Wisconsin and some friends from the local hockey program asked me for some help on installing an affordable sound system. They got a bid from a contractor for $10,000+ but have nowhere near that much money in their budget.  They said somewhere around $2500 might be more realistic.  We set up a pair of (hold the laughter) Active Mackie Thump 15s that we use for our local music in the park.  The pair was set up about 15 feet above the penalty box aimed out across the ice towards the 2 bleacher sections  (might hold 500 people total).  I know these speakers aren't high end stuff, but they actually sounded well on the rink and in the bleachers and were plenty loud.  I know ice arenas present a challenging acoustical environment, but with the foam ceiling tiles in there its not too shabby.  They currently have 4 cgm speakers (specs unknown) set up right in front of the bleachers and a soundtech powered mixer w/ about 300 watts @2 ohms mono output.  The stuff is really old, wore out and extremely rough on the ears to listen too!  Can't hear them on the rink either.

I'm a novice sound guy at best.  I'd like to believe I know a few things but fully admit I have much to learn.  Always reading articles & reviews to try and learn because i care about how music sounds.  I stumbled upon this website when reviewing Octosound speakers.  I figured this looks like a good place to get some legitimate advice.  Before I ask a bunch of questions and waste anyone's time, I just need one thing answered.  Is it okay to use powered speakers in an ice arena or will the heat inside from the amp cause condensation inside and ruin them?  I've heard a few people say it's okay.  The guy at Sweetwater says it's okay but I know he just wants to make a sale!  Any help here would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks much!


I just did a search, your in Neenah?  I have an office there.


What type of material (content) are you going to play?  Are you looking to have the high quality "bump" music that is so popular today in arenas and ball parks?


Our baseball stadium for the AAA team installed these slick subs that looked like giant bazooka tubes (the car audio product).  It is fun to have the low end energy in the stands.  They just used a ton of small speakers (I think RH) so to keep the level low.  That helps a lot in challenging spaces.


« Last Edit: December 18, 2016, 05:27:12 am by Scott Holtzman »
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Scott AKA "Skyking" Holtzman
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Eric Frantz

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Re: Looking for friendly advice on Ice Arena install.
« Reply #2 on: December 18, 2016, 12:45:09 am »

I'm on the other side of the state.  What exactly are you referring to when you say 'what kind of materials am I looking to send?'
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Scott Holtzman

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Re: Looking for friendly advice on Ice Arena install.
« Reply #3 on: December 18, 2016, 05:28:41 am »

I'm on the other side of the state.  What exactly are you referring to when you say 'what kind of materials am I looking to send?'

I changed send to play.  I meant "send to the speakers" but I was not clear.  Do you want announcements that are clear, light music, impactful bump music or do you intend to use the facility for other purposes?  What are your goals for this upgrade?
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Scott AKA "Skyking" Holtzman
River Delta Audio, Cleveland OH
www.riverdelta.rocks

Eric Frantz

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Re: Looking for friendly advice on Ice Arena install.
« Reply #4 on: December 18, 2016, 05:45:31 am »

I changed send to play.  I meant "send to the speakers" but I was not clear.  Do you want announcements that are clear, light music, impactful bump music or do you intend to use the facility for other purposes?  What are your goals for this upgrade?

OK, I thought that's what you meant.  Long day at work and cough medicine was fogging my brain! Pretty much just play music off mp3 player and announcing.  Not really for live music or anything.  We used the arena for a concert last year and had 4 of the Thump 15s and 2 Thump subs amd it was plenty loud. 

I was just wondering if powered speakers are okay to use consistently in the cold.
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Mike Sokol

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Re: Looking for friendly advice on Ice Arena install.
« Reply #5 on: December 18, 2016, 08:11:34 am »

I was just wondering if powered speakers are okay to use consistently in the cold.

If the key question is about condensation, then you shouldn't have anything to worry about as long as the temp of the gear and the room stays consistent. Condensation occurs when you have a warm room with lots of humidity, and you take in an object with a cold temp below the dew point. Then the moisture in the air condenses on the object. So if you have the speakers in a cold van, then take them into a warm room, there will be a lot of moisture condensing on the circuit boards, etc... You see the same thing if you wear glasses and go from the cold outside into a warm room. So if your speakers are always in this cold room, there won't be condensation. When you power them up the circuity will start to warm up and there won't be condensation since the circuit boards will be warmer (not colder) than the air. And as they cool back down they'll never be colder than the surrounding atmosphere, so no condensation.

However, you possibly need to worry a little about the speaker suspension in a very cold room. That is, the flex material of the surround can be stiff and brittle in the cold, so I've always "warmed up" any speaker (passive or active) with moderate level background music without a lot of bass speaker excursion for may be 30 minutes before putting kick drum through the system. I do this because I shredded the surrounds on a few bass speakers decades ago at an outside ski event. Maybe new speaker materials are more tolerant of sub-zero temps, but it wouldn't hurt to warm up everything slowly with some background music rather than just putting the gas to the system on startup. 
« Last Edit: December 20, 2016, 01:24:17 am by Mike Sokol »
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Ivan Beaver

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Re: Looking for friendly advice on Ice Arena install.
« Reply #6 on: December 18, 2016, 12:36:37 pm »

In a room like that, loud is not that important.

CLARITY is what you need.

Some people are impressed by simple loudness.  But I bet most of the audience in that space are more concerned with clarity.

It may be loud, but can you understand it?

If not-then what good is it?

Spraying sound everywhere is not a good idea.

You gave your budget-good for you.

What all does it need to include?

I suspect speakers-amps-mixer-wiring-install-tuning etc.

With a low budget-don't expect great results.

The general rule for a space like that-basket ball rooms etc, the best approach is to use more speakers that are closer to the people and have pattern control to keep the energy on the audience instead of spraying it on the surfaces that you don't want to.

The problem with this approach is that speakers that have real pattern control cost more.  And using more speakers will drive up the install costs.

But the RESULTS are worth it.

It is easy to make a loud sound.  Making a GOOD-usable loud sound is a totally different story and need a different approach.
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A complex question is easily answered by a simple-easy to understand WRONG answer!

Ivan Beaver
Danley Sound Labs

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Eric Frantz

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Re: Looking for friendly advice on Ice Arena install.
« Reply #7 on: December 18, 2016, 10:08:29 pm »

If the key question is about condensation, then you shouldn't have anything to worry about as long as the temp of the gear and the room stays consistent. Condensation occurs when you have a warm room with lots of humidity, and you take in an object with a cold temp below the dew point. The the moisture in the air condenses on the object. So if you have the speakers in a cold van, then take them into a warm room, there will be a lot of moisture condensing on the circuit boards, etc... You see the same thing if you wear glasses and go from the cold outside into a warm room. So if your speakers are always in this cold room, there won't be condensation. When you power them up the circuity will start to warm up and there won't be condensation since the circuit boards will be warmer (not colder) than the air. And as they cool back down they'll never be colder than the surrounding atmosphere, so no condensation.

However, you possibly need to worry a little about the speaker suspension in a very cold room. That is, the flex material of the surround can be stiff and brittle in the cold, so I've always "warmed up" any speaker (passive or active) with moderate level background music without a lot of bass speaker excursion for may be 30 minutes before putting kick drum through the system. I do this because I shredded the surrounds on a few bass speakers decades ago at an outside ski event. Maybe new speaker materials are more tolerant of sub-zero temps, but it wouldn't hurt to warm up everything slowly with some background music rather than just putting the gas to the system on startup.

I guess that all makes sense.  Really wanted to use powered speakers because I felt we could get more for the money.  Was looking in the $500-$1000 range per speaker.  Seems the ones with fly points are either polypropylene or birch boxes.  Not sure how the constant cold would ultimately affect the sound.  Makes sense to warm them up a bit first with every use.  Kinda like my car stereo at -15 degrees this morning.  Thanks for the feedback Mike!
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Eric Frantz

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Re: Looking for friendly advice on Ice Arena install.
« Reply #8 on: December 18, 2016, 10:47:53 pm »

In a room like that, loud is not that important.

CLARITY is what you need.

Some people are impressed by simple loudness.  But I bet most of the audience in that space are more concerned with clarity.

It may be loud, but can you understand it?

If not-then what good is it?

Spraying sound everywhere is not a good idea.

You gave your budget-good for you.

What all does it need to include?

I suspect speakers-amps-mixer-wiring-install-tuning etc.

With a low budget-don't expect great results.

The general rule for a space like that-basket ball rooms etc, the best approach is to use more speakers that are closer to the people and have pattern control to keep the energy on the audience instead of spraying it on the surfaces that you don't want to.

The problem with this approach is that speakers that have real pattern control cost more.  And using more speakers will drive up the install costs.

But the RESULTS are worth it.

It is easy to make a loud sound.  Making a GOOD-usable loud sound is a totally different story and need a different approach.

Hi Ivan.  I know that Mackie Thump 15s aren't the king of clarity, but they were way better than the crap they currently have and for do just fine for about 99% of the skaters and crowd! Unfortunately, they don't have fly points.  So I was looking into a pair of any of the following within the $500-$1000 range.  I see a few that are bi amped and have the class AB amps for the highs.  That's what our Thumps have and we liked the sound from them better than QSC K series when we put them side by side.  From my readings, I hear that this is supposedly better for clean, crisp and clear high frequencies.  The JBL's appear to have wifi control so we can use a tablet to monkey with the dsp and volume.......looked pretty handy.  The PreSonus and Line 6 speakers seem like they would have perhaps the best clarity of any of these choices.  I don't know much about Turbosound but they look decent.  Carvin seems like they offer a lot of speaker for the money.  Yamaha always seems to put out a good product.  Anyways,I know we all have opinions, but any feedback on which brand/product line might be best for an ice arena and why would be terrific.

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/EON615

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/SRM450v3

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/Milan15

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/Air15

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/DXR15

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/SSL3T

http://carvinaudio.com/collections/trx-2000-series-monitors-mains-and-subwoofers/products/trx2115a-15-inch-2-way-2000w-active-main-monitor

http://carvinaudio.com/collections/trx-2000-series-monitors-mains-and-subwoofers/products/trx2153a-15-inch-3-way-2500w-active-main-loudspeaker

Also was going to pick up a simple mixer to plug in mp3 and use a mic for announcing.

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/Mix8

Other than that, just the appropriate cables to wire the sound.  Not worried too much about a sub at this time.  That's something that could be picked up later on if money was available.  The Mackie Thumps we played seemed to carry enough bass throughout the rink without blowing us out.  We might dig out one of the Thump subs we have and set it up just for comparison to see what it sounds like.  All the electrical wiring and rigging would be done by a few of the hockey dads that are into skilled trades related to these areas.

The speakers would be hung, one over each player box areas.  This places them evenly near the 1/4 and 3/4 mark of the length of the building.  By pointing them straight across the rink and toward the bleachers, we are keeping most of the sound energy focused straight towards the 2 bleacher sections and minimizing bouncing sound off the ice/glass and the far ends of the arena.  At the top of each bleacher section, it's a metal wall about 15' to the roof.  We do have the option of putting some material there to helps soften the sound, such as some type of foam, sound curtain or homemade panels out of Roxul.  This would help to knock down some reverb/echo, but it isn't too bad as is.  The sound on the rink wasn't bad at all either with this speaker placement.  Plenty of volume and clarity, not much reverb or echo.
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Nathan Riddle

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Re: Looking for friendly advice on Ice Arena install.
« Reply #9 on: December 19, 2016, 02:35:33 pm »

Eric,

I aplaud you for looking for help.

I also advise you to look into having a production company help you out, perhaps Scotts.

If you really want to DIY this, then I would suggest the DXR/DSR or JBL SRX7/8 series. Plenty of talk/love for them here.
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I'm just a guy trying to do the right thing, always.
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