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A few questions about speaker type and placement in a bowling center.


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  • A few questions about speaker type and placement in a bowling center.

    Hi everyone,

    I was wondering if I could get some input from some of you about what works and doesn't work for speaker layout in a typical bowling center. I'll keep it as brief as I can, it's still a lot. A mechanic at a center I used to work at is wondering if I'd be interested in revamping the sound system in that center. I'll give a lowdown of what is currently there, as best as I can remember it, and I'm looking for ideas on how to modify this system to the new owners' liking.

    There is currently a pretty nice rack setup at the front counter. The mixer is fine and won't likely be changed. There is a dual-channel 32 band EQ, as well as a 2-way stereo crossover (set somewhere between 120 and 150Hz). Compressor/limiters as well. I don't remember model numbers or anything, but it is pretty decent quality stuff. In my opinion, that all should remain as-is. It's the amps and speakers that are likely getting downsized or changed a bit. I should note that the signal goes to a 70 volt ceiling system in the bar and in the aisle behind the settee area. Not important, as that's all likely staying as well. It's what's above the lanes that the new owners don't like.

    After the comp/limiter, we're going to three QSC RMX2450 amps. That's 2400 watts bridged at 2 ohms. Don't remember the other specs, but that's not really important. I was going to diagram the amp/speaker setup, but I started to even confuse myself. I'll just tell you. Driven by those three power amps, we have eight mains (12' driver with horn tweeter), spaced evenly throughout the house, as well as a 1400w 18" long-throw sub, and two 450w 18" subs.

    Okay, the first amp is driving the eight mains. There are four mains on each channel, one right and one left. I wired the speakers so that both amp channels are running at 2 ohms. It doesn't run hot, and puts out plenty of power to drive the mains, thus leaving the two other amplifiers free to drive the three subwoofers.

    The second amp is driving an 18" long-throw subwoofer in the center. That speaker is 1200w rms @ 4 ohms, and the amp is bridged. Plenty of power there for that speaker as well.

    The third amp is driving the two lower-wattage subwoofers (450w), which are near the left and right walls of the center. These were added on by the last owner, and they're not at all the correct speakers. They don't handle enough power. The third amp is turned down significantly as to not blow these speakers. They're just augmenting the low end a bit, you can be bowling on the end lane on either side of the house (28 lanes, if I haven't already mentioned that), and still be getting most of the bass from that center sub. All of these speakers are hanging about 12 feet over the lanes, about halfway down the lane.

    The eight mains are just fine, pleeenty of headroom there. However, when the music gets turned up late on Friday nights, the subwoofers aren't able to keep up and you either end up turning the mains up and rolling back the bass a little bit, or just leaving the whole system turned down to a civil volume. Neither is a good option for the moonlight bowling crowd.

    So, here's why I'm posting here. The new owners of this center don't like the speakers hanging over the lanes. They think it's ugly, and that it's overkill. As a sound guy, I think it's sexy and I KNOW that the bottom end is underpowered, but I didn't just purchase that bowling center, so I guess my opinion doesn't matter so much. What they're looking for is a smaller profile. In other words, not 11 big boxes hanging from chains over the bowling lanes.

    I don't really know what to recommend for them. There's a curtain wall type thing between the concourse and settee area, and one suggestion I had was to hang full-range active speakers on that wall, angling down and towards the lanes. I think that's more of what they'd be looking for. That would require taking out all the existing speaker cables and running two XLRs to the settee area ceiling, daisy chaining the left and right speakers.

    Are there any downsides to this? Does someone have a better idea of how to get a more aesthetically pleasing but still kick-ass sound system in this place? I'm very open to suggestion, and I really want to make this happen. The sweet side is that there's a possibility that if I do this work for them, I might get paid in amplifiers and speakers. That's awesome. Thanks in advance for any help!

    (edit: here's a drawing of the system anyway)

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