LSU Tigers Get Sound To Shout About This Season
When LSU’s Tiger Stadium was expanded to more than 102,000 seats between 2012 and 2014 from its previous capacity of 92,500, it became the third-largest stadium in the SEC, the sixth-largest in the NCAA, and the ninth-largest in the world. However, through it all, Tiger Stadium never relinquished the title of loudest venue in college football, according to the NCAA. (It’s the site of the legendary “Earthquake Game” against Auburn in 1988, when crowd reaction to a game-ending touchdown pass registered on the seismograph in the Louisiana Geological Survey office on campus, prompting the stadium’s official nickname of “Death Valley” to often be rendered as “Deaf Valley.”)
But, as the Baton Rouge bowl got bigger, with the $80 million expansion of the south end-zone upper deck, where the additional seats are located, the shortcomings of the stadium’s sound system became more apparent.
“The coverage just wasn’t there,” says Terrance Bold, assistant manager of facilities and grounds for LSU’s sprawling empire of sports facilities and venues, including Tiger Stadium; the Alex Box Stadium for baseball; the W.T. “Dub” Robinson tennis facility; the Pete Maravich Center for basketball, volleyball, and gymnastics; and the Bernie Moore Track Stadium.
Coverage is no longer an issue. A new Danley Sound Labs system, designed by consultant Anthony James Partners (AJP) and installed by Baker Audio, consists of 18 Jericho horns (14 J3-64 full-range and four J4-31 high-frequency) and six TH-812 subwoofers; four Danley SH-96s, four Danley SH-64s, four Danley SM-80s, and 20 Danley SH-MINIs provide fill for areas not directly covered by the Jericho horns. A QSC Q-Sys processing system feeds 24 Lab.gruppen PLM 10000Q and 20000Q amplifiers that power the system.
Bold, who also mixes the live sound in the bowl from a 32-channel Yamaha LS9 console, says he chose the Danley system after hearing a demo consisting of two speakers set up in the end zone: “It was a pretty small rig compared to the full-size system we had, but I walked all the way to the other end of the stadium and didn’t hear a single drop-out anywhere.”
He adds that the new system is able to throw 8 kHz that same distance with program material that measures up to 105 dBA. “It was like listening to a great stereo system.”
The location of the PA system has also changed, having been moved to the north end, where it flanks the YESCO scoreboard. That brought some new challenges, including a mysterious rattling of the scoreboard’s rear-enclosure panel. That was rectified with the application of insulating foam inside the scoreboard.
That, however, impacted the sonic quality of the sound system, attenuating the system’s low-end response, which was corrected by lowering the threshold of the system’s high-pass filter. “You make one change, and that impacts everything else,” Bold notes.
As the stadium has gotten naturally louder as a result of the added seats, Bold has come up with some countermeasures. To help the 100-strong Marching Tigers Band overcome the crowd noise, Bold set up a pair of highly directional shotgun microphones below and aimed up at the band’s position to the left below the scoreboard. He’ll use them to put the band through the PA system, reinforcing their natural volume.
He has recorded their performances and plays them through the PA as the band makes the transition from the stands to the field for halftime shows, making the entertainment aspects of the games more seamless. (Being able to boost the band through the PA system may also help him censor the rowdier chant changes that students make during songs, one of the less-welcome traditions at Tiger Stadium.)
Prior to this season and in anticipation of the launch of the new SEC Network, LSU ran single-mode fiber cabling from its campus broadcast center to Tiger Stadium and to all sports venues on campus.
“There’s going to be a tremendous need for content for the new network,” Bold says, noting that LSU is scheduled to host about 40 sports events for the network in the coming year, including Tigers games. “This is a year of changes.”