Located in Ridgefield, WA, about 20 minutes north of Portland, OR, the Amphitheater at Clark County hosts a broad variety of top-draw talent, including such recent guests as Willie Nelson, John Mayer, Rush, and Metallica. Now in its fifth year, the 18,000-seat venue recently upgraded its main sound system to one based on the Meyer Sound MILO® high-power curvilinear array loudspeaker.
The main system, designed and installed by Taylor, MI-based Thunder Audio, is comprised of two arrays of 12 MILO cabinets. Six M'elodie(tm) ultracompact high-power curvilinear array loudspeakers per side provide frontfill, and six 700-HP ultrahigh-power subwoofers per side cover low frequencies. When needed, the venue can configure a setup to cover the lawn area only, consisting of six MILO loudspeakers per side, along with three M'elodie loudspeakers to cover the 30' space between the two MILO arrays.
The Amphitheater at Clark County's attention to acoustical detail has garnered the venue considerable praise for exceptional sound quality. "The place was designed at the outset to sound good, rather than trying to fix it with electronics," says Amphitheater at Clark County CEO Dan Braun. Eight-inch concrete walls surround the reserved seats, and a 12 high acoustical concrete wall resides behind the lawn area, both of which benefit the sound both inside and outside the venue. "We've got neighbors 400' away, but we've never gotten any complaints," he adds. "Jack Wrightson of WJHW (consultants Wrightson, Johnson, Haddon & Williams, Inc., Dallas, Texas) did a fantastic job designing the place."
The venue's commitment to optimum sound also prompted the move to a new audio system. "We had a smaller system in here previously, but it was really only effective for quieter shows," says Braun. "We needed something that could deliver power and clarity, with good bottom end and a high degree of intelligibility. It also needed to be versatile enough for a wide range of performances."
According to Braun, the venue's new system does an exceptional job of evenly covering both the 10,000 reserved seats under the shed and the 8,000-seat lawn area. "In most amphitheatres, the sound on the lawn is nowhere near as good as it is in the reserved seats," says Braun. "The MILO arrays sound great all the way to the back wall. The self-powered design is great for eliminating cabling and patching nightmares, too."
As Braun points out, the new MILO loudspeaker system keeps both the audience and the artists happy. "We really have two clients: the guests who come in the front door, and the artists who come in the backstage door. The guests deserve a great concert experience, whether they're in the reserved seats or on the grass, and we're constantly looking for ways to provide that for them. We also go out of our way to provide the engineers with the best possible tools to make it sound great. We have encountered no sound engineers who complain when we say we have a Meyer Sound system."