Feature Article - November 2009
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Audio & Illumination

Space-Specific, Sport-Specific

By Dawn Klingensmith


hen Robert Perry was in the market to replace the 9-year-old metal halide lamps at the Ponds of Brookfield Ice Arena in Brookfield, Wis., one of his main concerns was the color that various types of lighting would cast onto the ice surface. "As a hockey player, there's a certain color of light that's comfortable for the eyes," he said.

Also of top concern was "consistency of lighting," he added, with the goal being "a complete bathing of the ice."

"We wanted natural, easy light on the eyes. We nailed it. We've had no complaints, only compliments," said Perry, who owns the arena.

The fluorescent lighting at the ice rink has perhaps drawn universal applause, but what constitutes "good" lighting, as well as what makes for good sound, is difficult to define, let alone achieve—though both are crucial aspects of athlete success and spectator satisfaction.

"Lighting is one of the critical things about a project, but if you talk to 10 people in the lighting industry, you'll get 10 different 'ideal' solutions," said Lou Verrone, an Atlanta-based regional distributor for the Manitowoc, Wis., manufacturer that produced the high-efficiency fluorescent lights for the Ponds of Brookfield.

And with sound systems, if you want high-quality music, for example, it sometimes comes at the expense of clear-sounding voices. That need not be the case, but so many variables come into play that there can be no one-size-fits-all solution. Audio engineering is an art as much as a science, and any system probably will require considerable tweaking before the installer and the end user are satisfied, with trial and error being part of that process.