Feature Article - October 2018
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Pump It Up

Scoreboards, Sports Lighting & Sound Make the Game

By Rick Dandes

Crank Up the Sound

Something that makes just as much of an impact as having all the bells and whistles available with scoreboards are schools looking to increase the quality of their sound. "Systems that can provide crisp, clear audio and a range of base and treble that really helps schools elevate that game day experience," Sydow said. When you partner a brand new sound system with a video display, that's when you really start to feel the impact that high school sports can have on a community. And some of the excitement that can be generated.

Sound systems greatly improve the experience on both ends of the spectrum, said Nick Craig, director of sales for a Carlsbad, Calif., portable sound system manufacturer, "whether you're the athlete or the spectator."

On the athlete side, they are getting music during practice to pump them up, coaches making announcements can be heard all over the field, and it helps in keeping the athletes engaged. Some football teams are using sound systems to simulate crowd noise during practice to help dial in the players focus and ensure they are clearly communicating on the field when it matters most during game time.

A strong sound system helps spectators feel more engaged in the sport they are watching, Craig said. "They get to enjoy music during the breaks and clearly hear the announcements during the game, which keep them in the loop for what's going on down on the field."

What's trending in the business, Craig said, are portable sound systems. "It's about versatility. Facility operators need the ability to set up in one spot, be ready to go in minutes for an event, then break down in a few seconds to set up for an event in a different space," he said. Portable systems give those operators the versatility they need.

"Sports-recreation facilities as well as athletic teams are purchasing versatile all-in-one sound systems," Craig said, "especially sound systems that are wireless, and easy to use. This provides a variety of benefits that ultimately lead to the versatility of the sound system.

"A portable option," he added, "is great when you have a facility that has a variety of athletic spaces such as soccer fields, baseball fields, football fields, basketball courts and more. It is even better when you have a tight budget because you can get a bigger bang for your buck with a single sound system that has a variety of uses in a variety of spaces. And for the travel athletic teams, the unit can be used during practice or at home games then packed up and taken on the road for pregame hype, practice music, and even for communication and announcements."

Being wireless eliminates the hassle, and potential trip hazard, of running cables. For this reason, there has been tremendous growth in battery-powered portable PA systems at sports and recreation facilities. If you are contemplating buying a sound system, Craig has some advice. Consider the following questions:

  • How large of an area are you looking to cover? (Determines how much "loudness" you need—decibels and wattage—as well as the possible acoustic challenges that need to be considered)
  • What is the largest crowd size you expect to have at one time? (Determines how much "loudness" you need)
  • Would you like to use wireless mics with the system? If yes, how many would you use at once? (Determines whether or not wireless receivers need to be included, as well as how many mics are needed)

Based on the answers, Craig said, manufacturers can figure out what system will cover all your needs. There are, however, some additional questions that can be beneficial to consider if you are going the wireless route: For instance, knowing the type of event and where it is held will help determine the best wireless microphone option. Also, knowing the distance of the wireless range you require, and knowing if there are any obstructions, heavy-duty power lines or other factors that may disrupt or affect the wireless performance. Do you have easy access to a power source? And what inputs and outputs do you need?

"Understanding how you intend to use system in terms of devices and connections will determine what inputs and outputs are required. Examples include a mixer, iPod, MP3 player, wired microphones, companion speakers," Craig said.