Illinois State University Audio System Upgraded with EAW Line Arrays

by Naomi Crews

Braden Auditorium boasts a new sound reinforcement system featuring left-right line arrays – eight EAW KF740 per side – with a center cluster of four EAW SB1001 subwoofers. Illinois State University commissioned EAW KF740 Line Arrays for installation in its Braden Auditorium inside the university's Bone Student Center.

Illinois State University Upgrades Braden Auditorium With EAW KF740 Line Arrays

Bloomington-Normal, Illinois (July 2015) -- Braden Auditorium, located inside Illinois State University's Bone Student Center, is a landmark resource to the Bloomington-Normal community and a hub of student activity. Recently, the University upgraded the auditorium with a new sound reinforcement system featuring EAW KF740 line arrays.

“We had been utilizing an older system that was designed and installed in 1981,” explains Chuck Fudge, technical director of Bone Student Center. “Frankly, I’d been lobbying for a new system since I came back as technical director in 2005. The old one had served us well but the venue was long overdue for an upgrade.”

As is true with most schools, Illinois State University (ISU) provided a fairly tight budget for Fudge to work with. He had four criteria for the new system. The first two, outstanding audio quality and a budget-friendly price tag, were non-negotiable. He was also interested in a system that could handle the majority of events at the auditorium – which range from Broadway shows to concerts – and he wanted a system that was compact in size to eliminate any need to remove it when roadshows (with their own PAs) came to town.  

“With the budget determining the scope of the project, a medium format line array was the obvious solution,” adds Fudge. “I did some research and talked with other professionals in the industry and narrowed it down to a few manufacturers that had product that met my criteria.”

After an extensive demo of each system on his short list, Fudge determined that the EAW KF740 line array provided the most full-featured solution adding that “the dollar value of the KF740 was great – it behaved like a larger, full format system with a smaller footprint – it fit our needs and budget perfectly.”

The auditorium is a fan-shaped venue with graded, continental seating on the orchestra (main) seating level. Additional seating is provided on the mezzanine and balcony levels with a total capacity of 3,500. The venue has been home to Broadway musicals, pop and country stars, touring variety shows, comedians and big name performers – requiring a system that can accommodate the variety of performances.

With some assistance from EAW's ASG team and utilizing EAW Resolution software, Fudge specified left-right line arrays – eight KF740 per side – with a center cluster of four SB1001 subwoofers in a cardioid configuration for additional low end. The arrays and subwoofer cluster are hung high, to keep lines of sight clean and to stay out of the way when other systems were deployed. The main system blankets the orchestra and mezzanine level seating areas.  

The high output, three-way KF740 features dual 62mm voice coil HF compression drivers and dual eight-inch Concentric Summation Array (CSA) loaded MF transducers integrated through a common horn that occupies the entire face of the enclosure. The KF740 offers outstanding pattern control extended down to 160 Hz. The pair of LF devices integrated within the MF/HF horn combined with the pair of side-mounted devices provide as much as 18 dB of off-axis rejection. A UX8800 DPS delivers Focused processing that precisely transitions from one system subsection to another while maintaining nearly perfect 90 degree control.

The KF740 line array is designed to provide seamless coverage from directly below the array to hundreds of feet in front – making it an ideal solution for the auditorium. Fudge tailored the vertical output to match the room by varying the splay at the rear of the enclosure as instructed by the Resolution software. The end result is a continuous, coherent wave front of extended range, high resolution audio over the entire orchestra and mezzanine seating areas.

A smaller, exploded cluster of four EAW QX364 loudspeakers cover the second balcony. The point source nature of the QX system allows the sound to be placed squarely on the audience and minimizes any potential black slap from the walls or ceilings.

“Having the QX loudspeakers as a secondary system allows us to turn the upper balcony on and off as needed,” Fudge says. “And it works as fill for roadshows as well. They can tie into the system and not have to worry about their system reaching the second balcony – and the intelligibility on those boxes is truly amazing – so those seats are getting the same clarity as anywhere else in the auditorium.”  

The QX364 has an ultra-efficient and unique high compression driver with a 60 x 45 degree constant directivity horn. Four Phase Aligned 10-inch low frequency transducers arranged as vertical and horizontal pairs leverage beneficial interaction based on their spacing to extend pattern control and provide clarity. Because the four low frequency transducers surround the high compression driver symmetrically in the horizontal and vertical planes, response across the full frequency spectrum appears to originate from a single point in space.

“We have had positive reviews from audience members, the technical team and the performers. I couldn’t be more delighted with the results,” Fudge concludes.