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Setting up a bowling center for sound

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Setting up a bowling center for sound

Postby Party on » Fri Jun 05, 2020 10:17 pm

I wanted to get your opinions and advice for setting up a sound system in a bowling center. For the layout, the center is a 24 lane center and the floors are all flat, no risers or steps. The width of the center is 140 feet wide, by 70 feet deep (from the foul line to the wall where the control desk is at.) The ceiling is made of drop ceiling acoustical tiles, approximately 20 feet tall.

I have seen many bowling centers with many speakers hanging from the ceiling spaced fairly evenly, some right above the foul line, some about half way down the lane. My questions are, what would be the best speaker placement and how many speakers would I need for the best sound dispersion. Is there a software program that would help out with the design?

What would be the best size of speaker for my application? I am used to using 15" two way and 18" bass cabinets, but that's I have worked with in the past. Are there any threads here that discuss the best speaker brands, I would imagine it would be a hot topic but I don't see any threads on it.
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Re: Setting up a bowling center for sound

Postby Mike Stranks » Sat Jun 06, 2020 9:07 am

Welcome! :thumbup:

What do you want to do with this sound system? Is it for announcements, background music, DJ events, concerts...?

I'm presuming it's to be a permanent install...

... what's the budget?

And I'm presuming you're in the USA....
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Re: Setting up a bowling center for sound

Postby resistorman » Sat Jun 06, 2020 4:17 pm

I dunno Mike, we call them Bowling Alleys over here :lol:
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Re: Setting up a bowling center for sound

Postby Mike Stranks » Sun Jun 07, 2020 4:46 pm

resistorman wrote:I dunno Mike, we call them Bowling Alleys over here :lol:

... and we call them 'centres'.... :lol:
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Re: Setting up a bowling center for sound

Postby resistorman » Sun Jun 07, 2020 6:57 pm

Mike Stranks wrote:
resistorman wrote:I dunno Mike, we call them Bowling Alleys over here :lol:

... and we call them 'centres'.... :lol:


The plot thickens! Maybe a transplanted American...
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Re: Setting up a bowling center for sound

Postby Party on » Sun Jun 07, 2020 7:13 pm

Thanks Mike,

This sound system will primary be for prerecorded music, and live JD setups. There is a separate PA system for announcements (in ceiling speakers). There may be bands in the near future, not sure if they would want to tap into the mains.

Yes it is going to be a permanent install. There are currently 8- JRX215's suspended from the ceiling. They sound okay, lack of bass in the building. I would imagine I could throw some bass cabinets in the mix and have it sound better, but I would like something that sounds a lot better than what is currently there.

I am trying to get an idea of how much a good sound system would cost. There currently isn't a budget for the system, more like attempting to figure out how much to budget for. The center is in the USA.

The install would be in house. I was an electrician along with an extensive background of band, lighting and P.A. setups; so install is not an issue. I would like to engineer it right the first time to avoid any future issues.
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Re: Setting up a bowling center for sound

Postby ef37a » Sun Jun 07, 2020 7:27 pm

I am very interested in this because my local Sainsburys (Sixfields) has the most appalling PA system.

I know I am well mutton but even with my digital aid in I can only get one word in three and I regularly ask customers and staff what the last announcement said "Something about bread?" or usually "what announcement?"

The speakers are distributed direct radiators about 20 mrts up in the roof space and the resulting sound is just an echoey mess. My thoughts revolve around line source speakers on the poles at each checkout firing down each isle. Put the sound on the people not in the bloody roof! But just a HPF in the mic circuit at say 200Hz would help massively.

It seems to me that a bowling centre is a similar situation? A lot of hard surfaces in an immense space and a very low density of people.

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Re: Setting up a bowling center for sound

Postby Folderol » Sun Jun 07, 2020 8:02 pm

ef37a wrote:It seems to me that a bowling centre is a similar situation? A lot of hard surfaces in an immense space and a very low density of people.

Dave.
This was my first thought. Bowling alleys are both noisy and highly reflective. I would think that (within reason) the speakers need to be as close to the people as possible.
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Re: Setting up a bowling center for sound

Postby resistorman » Sun Jun 07, 2020 8:30 pm

I’m thinking 1 line array cluster in the center.
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Re: Setting up a bowling center for sound

Postby zenguitar » Sun Jun 07, 2020 9:00 pm

+1

You are trying to cover a very large area with the listeners spread throughout. With multiple speakers everyone will hear the more distant speakers with time delays.

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Re: Setting up a bowling center for sound

Postby Mike Stranks » Sun Jun 07, 2020 10:23 pm

Thanks for the clarification 'Party On'.

In your situation I'd be looking to get someone who knows about acoustics (primarily) to take a look and offer advice. That will cost, but will be money well-spent and stop you buying inappropriate gear that can't be heard properly and drives everyone nuts with booming and total lack of clarity. And ask fo references - and follow them up - before employing anyone to give you advice.

Don't be taken in or persuaded by people who sell gear as well as offer 'consultancy'... they'll just want to throw kit at the problem and leave a lot of unhappy people about the place.

I used to offer consultancy and advice on installing sound systems. I remember one particular place where I was called-in after they had received a quote for 10's of thousands of $ for a medium-sized space. Fortunately I arrived before anything was signed. The basic problem was one of acoustics, meaning people couldn't hear for reverb. I got them to employ an accredited acoustician who oversaw the installation of acoustic treatment. Then we installed a much more modest sound system at an overall saving (including acoustic consultant and treatment) of over 50% of the original quote.

As some of my colleagues have indicated, the bowling center is a complex area acoustically... you don't want guesses as to what would suit. If needs someone on site to assess the space and offer recommendations.
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Re: Setting up a bowling center for sound

Postby ef37a » Sun Jun 07, 2020 11:41 pm

zenguitar wrote:+1

You are trying to cover a very large area with the listeners spread throughout. With multiple speakers everyone will hear the more distant speakers with time delays.

Andy :beamup:

Well this used to be a problem but very high quality, precision delays are quite cheap these days.

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Re: Setting up a bowling center for sound

Postby Sam Spoons » Sun Jun 07, 2020 11:54 pm

Could be an answer but you would still need a single 'virtual' source and speakers with sufficient directionality that people behind them don't hear the delayed sound. Simple enough in a conventional venue with the band at one end and the punters ranging back from the 'stage' to the back of the room. A bowling centre type environment would present different issues though?

I endorse Mikes suggestion, you need a 'proper' acoustic consultant to look at the place and give hands on advice (and I'm sure Dave's suggestion will figure in the solution).
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Re: Setting up a bowling center for sound

Postby resistorman » Mon Jun 08, 2020 12:44 am

It seems to me your choice of what to do here is pretty limited. The less points of transmission the better, the more directivity the better. Has anyone been involved with a better solution than a central line array cluster for a situation such as this?
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Re: Setting up a bowling center for sound

Postby AlecSp » Mon Jun 08, 2020 1:25 am

Mike's bang on the money about looking at the acoustics of what is likely to be a nasty sounding space.

Everyone else appears to be a little flaliing in the wind, really...

You've got experience of other bowling centres? Are there some that sound particularly good? If so, can you ask them who did their acoustics/sound design? Or, at the very least, you might observe what kind of installation they have.

Possible speaker strategies include a single point source, a highly distributed system or (as will probably be the case in many centres) a random installation of whatever was cheap/available. While speaker design can help reduce the negative impact of the space, the best outcome is likely to be making the space better in the first place. Which, incidentally, by itself, will probably make the centre a more pleasant place to visit.
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