Although the Boy Scouts of America don’t offer merit badges to vendors, if they did, it’s likely that Surf City Sound of Orange County, California, would have earned one for their brilliant solution to sound system needs at the organization’s recent Scout-o-Rama.
The annual outdoor event draws scouts and their families, as well as others interested in an entertaining, educational family outing. Scout booths – no two booths are alike – offer demonstrations and activities ranging from wall climbing to solar cooking, knot tying to leatherwork. Local law and fire enforcement agencies also sponsor a variety of demonstrations. This year more than 27,000 enjoyed the event, which included performances from skate and bike teams and other entertainment. It goes without saying that developing an event-wide sound system — for an area that spans approximately 1,300 linear feet (396.2m) — was no small order.
Surf City’s Ross Ricks handled the contract. His first order of business was to take the event’s sound system into the 21st Century by replacing what would have been miles of cable, with a self-contained, wireless system. This not only brought an obvious ease to the situation, but also streamlined setup and teardown needs. “Our Listen representative was a great help,” says Ricks, who notes that Listen’s recommendations took much of the guesswork out of the equation.
So how does one set up a system to handle paging, announcements, public addresses and background music for an outdoor event of this size? Familiar with Listen equipment used for assisted listening in churches, Ricks sensed a similar wireless concept would be a natural solution. “We first set it up and tested it in our shop to gauge range and other things,” says Ricks. “Once that was done, the rest was really simple.”
The system began with 10 Mackie 1521powered speakers – at 500 watts per unit – for maximum blast power. These were mounted strategically throughout the grounds. A Listen LR-400 receiver was mounted onto each speaker. Ricks then strategically placed a Listen LT-800 transmitter and a LA-107 Ground Plane Antenna (mounted 30 ft. (9.1m) in the air). An extra-long LA-266 Professional Camcorder Cable was plugged into a Listen LA-202 Power Supply.
It was a job well done, according to Lara Beecher of the Orange Country Boys Scouts of America. “The sound system, which was heavily utilized throughout the day, was great. It was really crisp and clear, and helped create a more festive, smooth-flowing event.”
Purchasing the Listen equipment was a “no-brainer,” says Ricks, who is certain he’ll be using it for other contracts. “We’re a full-service audio/visual shop with onsite production and a recording studio, so this offers us greater flexibility. We’re that much more prepared for concerts, company picnics, carnivals and other community events.” Perhaps next year Surf City Sound should have a booth and teach a few of the scouts some tricks of the trade.