he roots of the North American International Auto Show, which is held annually in Detroit, Michigan, go back to 1907 when it was strictly a regional venue for America’s nascent auto manufacturers to parade their latest inventions. Flash forward over a century and the event has become one of the largest auto shows in the world, attracting press and enthusiasts from around the globe to the North American auto-making capital, and bringing an approximate $500 million annual boost to the local economy. As attendance numbers continue to grow, Cobo Center, which hosts the event, recently renovated the underused 12,000-seat Cobo Arena to convert it into a ballroom better suited to the show. Danley Sound Labs SM-60F full-range loudspeakers, supported by Danley TH-115 subwoofers, fire down from the new ballroom’s fifty-foot ceilings to support high-energy auto show productions, along with other events that the new space, renamed Grand Riverview Ballroom at Cobo Center, will host throughout the year.
“The old Cobo Arena was not used very often,” explained Tim Hamilton, A/V designer with Acoustics By Design (Grand Rapids, Michigan) and the lead A/V consultant on the Cobo project. “They gutted it completely, down to the structure, and put in a new floor. The upper half is the new Grand Riverview Ballroom, and it is aesthetically gorgeous, a far cry from the rough arena that went so underused. The Grand Riverview Ballroom is a premium spot, and I suspect that all of the manufacturers will be clambering to rent it, rather than being stuck on the concrete floors of the main exhibit hall. I gave the system enough oomph so that they could easily cover any event short of a full-blown concert.”
The inputs to the system include a collection of AKG wireless microphones together with numerous floor boxes and wall panels. All of the inputs feed a Biamp AudiaFlex signal processing system. Touch panels positioned at strategic locations throughout the hall run Biamp’s daVinci control system software, which allows input selection and volume control. Outputs from the processing system feed Biamp amplifiers that power twenty full-range Danley SM-60F loudspeakers and Crown iTech series amplifiers that power the four Danley TH-115 subwoofers. Each loudspeaker and subwoofer has its own amplifier channel. Preset selection allows users to engage all the loudspeakers and subwoofers as one unit for full-floor events, to split the room in half for situations in which a retractable wall is in place, or to mute the loudspeakers at one end of the hall for events where a stage is in place.
“There weren’t a lot of loudspeaker and subwoofer solutions that would meet all of the particular needs of the Grand Riverview Ballroom,” said Hamilton. “First, they would be fifty feet in the air, and most traditional ceiling speakers would be significantly under-gunned. Second, the beautiful, decorative ceiling had only a limited number of rigging points, and yet we still had to satisfy the need to divide or mute speakers according to the presets. Third, we needed great fidelity and power on a budget. The Danley SM-60F had the right 60×60 beam width to hit the floor correctly, and it has the Danley sound and efficiency at a great price point. Moreover, it is a relatively small box, which satisfied the requirements for the rigging points. All in all, we used the Danley loudspeakers and subwoofers to cover a large space with a distributed system that focuses sound on the floor and minimizes reflections off the ceiling and walls.”