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The challenge

Since 1984, Oxford Ice Rink has been a magnet for skating fans within and beyond the boundaries of the university town. In addition to being home base for National Ice Hockey League team the Oxford City Stars, the 700-seater stadium also serves as a venue for skating competitions and performances as well as a weekly ice disco. The original sound and lighting system had become dated and needed replacing without canceling or disrupting any revenue-generating activities.

They needed a multi-purpose audio and lighting system which could cope with the damp and cold of an ice rink, be versatile and easily controlled. It also had to meet the demands of general back ground audio for events from the weekly disco, club nights and party nights, along with a building-wide public address system for general announcements and staff calls.

The solution

The task of designing and installing the new sound system and lighting was entrusted to Audio Visual and Stage specialists Torpedo Factory Group (TFG).

Audio system

TFG replaced the previous sound reinforcement system with a new one from Electro-Voice. “We knew already from countless similar installations that the acoustic characteristics of the Electro-Voice loudspeakers were exactly what was needed here,” explains Tim Sachno, TFG Projects Manager, “so they were automatically our first choice.”

Since the arena, like most ice skating venues, has an extremely long reverberation time, the TFG team opted to fly the loudspeakers in a central cluster directly above the ice. It comprises six Electro-Voice ZX5-60 and four Electro-Voice Sx300PI loudspeakers that distribute the sound evenly over the 1,500-square-meter rink and the seating area beyond. These full-range models are complemented by four Electro-Voice EVF-1181S subwoofers to reinforce the low-frequency range.

“We hesitated right to the end before installing the four subs,” recalls Sachno, “because the ZX5 15” two-way full-range loudspeakers sounded so good on their own we were tempted to dispense with subwoofers altogether.” In the end though, to be sure of having sufficient headroom in the bass, TFG reinstated the four EVF-1181S subs.

The power comes from an Electro-Voice CPS 8.5 and a CPS 2.12 amplifier, while the control and supervision of the system are provided by a DC-One digital sound system processor, also from Electro-Voice.

For daily use, a small source rack was installed into the DJ Booth consisting of a Tascam CD200i, Allan and Heath GR2 mixer and multi-input panel for connecting additional audio sources to the system.

For the building-wide PA system TFG installed ADS units, which could cope with the extreme cold and damp of the ice rink yet provide excellent sound quality, and an ADS5240 100v Amplifier and Signet 1A Desk Microphone.

Central speaker cluster

  • 4x Single EVS18S 400w PI weatherised subs
  • 6x Zx5-60PI 15” Two-Way 600w weatherised full range speakers
  • 4x SX300PI E Two-Way 300w weatherised full range speakers.

Amplification and speaker management system

  • CPS 8.5 – 8 Channel Amplifier – Powering the full range speakers
  • CPS 2.12 – 2 Channel Amplifier – Powering the Subs
  • Dynacord DSP260 Speaker Manager

Lighting system

The replacement lighting system proved to be a design challenge, it needed to be energy efficient, cope with the damp and cold of an ice rink, be versatile and easily controlled.

TFG provided six custom manufactured internally wired truss systems installed at high-level along the walkways down each side of the rink, the truss was manufactured to a level able to cope with the cold and dampness of the rink. 90% of the fixtures supplied were LED units with a number of UV cannons and 1Kw Parcans for additional lighting reinforcement.

Rink lighting system

  • 6 x 5m custom manufactured internally wired ladder truss, with four 16A socket wired to a hard power system for LED and disco lighting and effects, one 16A outlet wired to a dimmer for generic dimmed lighting and one 16A outlet wired to a relay controlled system for UV effects and DMX Output for control of lighting equipment
  • 12 x Chauvet COLORado 1-Tri IP LED Parcans
  • 6 x Acme LittLED Moonflower
  • 6 x Acme LED Dynamo Scanner
  • 6 x Electrovision UV Cannons
  • 6 x IP44 Par64’s

Control system

  • A Strand 6 Pack Dimmer
  • Custom DMX Controlled Relay Pack
  • Custom Electrical Distribution
  • Acme CA M26 DMX Merger / Splitter
  • Mode Colourstyle 512 DMX Lighting Control Panel

The benefits

TFG installed the new flexible multi-purpose audio and lighting system in 3 weeks without any interruption of service or lost revenue. The first assignment for the new system was the Christmas Ice Show, which showcased the new systems to the delight of both the audience and the skaters.

“For a relatively small outlay, the Oxford Ice Rink have acquired an outstanding audio and lighting system that represents a sound investment for the future,” concludes Sachno. “Compared with its predecessor, the system represents a quantum leap in terms of quality – a view shared by the rink’s operators, who have expressed themselves highly satisfied with the results.”. Sachno and the TFG team describes the sound of the integrated system now as “simply overwhelming.”

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