Minnesotan High School installs EAW sound system in auditorium

Minnesota’s Norwood-Young America High School has installed a series of EAW tech as part of an upgrade of its sound in its auditorium in order for it to be able to handle lectures with higher speech intelligibility as well as do justice to the theatrical productions and concerts that take place in the venue.

The city of Norwood-Young America was founded in 1997 after the merger of the two neighbouring cities of Norwood and Young America. Over the course of the last 15 years the city has steadily grown—a trend repeated at the city’s largest High School.

The auditorium sound system upgrade—which was undertaken by Minnesota-based Video Services Inc.—was a challenging project due to the large space.

“This was the largest school auditorium we have done to date,” explained VSI’s Project Manager, Mike Kimes, “and we knew it needed to be a high-end installation. It’s exciting to have done a project of this caliber, and the equipment that we were going to use had to be top-flight.”

VSI and Kimes ended up installing a sound system based around EAW’s NTL720 compact, self-powered three-way line array loudspeaker. The installation involved a single central cluster of six EAW NTL720 modules. According to Kimes, this central cluster provides full-range coverage of the auditorium from the main seating area all the way into the upper balcony.

Flanking these to provide the left-right stereo pair, Kimes decided upon two EAW AX364 three-way full range installation loudspeakers. In addition, two 18-inch EAW SB1001 subwoofers have been installed when the full-range is required. These are floor mounted on casters so they can be used as and when—just another way of making the system flexible and simple: “They can wheel the subwoofers out as needed,” added Kimes, “and the whole system is incredibly easy to operate and still offers top performance in any mode.”

Signal processing is clearly important to handle the rig. On this occasion, Kimes decided that the loudspeakers should be controlled using the DSP from an EAW UX8800 digital signal processor with 4 inputs and 8 outputs. What is more, greater control is created by the use of the Biamp Nexia system which is used as a pre-programmed switcher—making the entire system flawlessly simple. This is installed upstream of the UX8800 and allows the school staff to reconfigure the set up in order to be better suited to either lecturing or theatrical/musical applications.

The NTL720 enclosures had already been specified by consultants before Kimes arrived. Did that concern him? Not a jot.

“I’ve been an EAW fan since forever,” Kimes explained. “The installation went very smoothly – we used the EAW FB172 Flybar for the center cluster hang and that really facilitated the installation. The UX8800 handles the speaker processing well, and the system has great performance and no surprises – just what you want to have.”

Overall, Kimes is very impressed by the system and hopes other high schools are tempted to improve the acoustics of their auditoriums.

“I’m a live-sound mixer on the weekends and the way this system sounds for music,” he concluded, “I’d be happy taking it out on any concert tour. It’s that good. It really raises the bar for what can be done in a high school auditorium. I’d like to see other high schools make this kind of investment in their future.”