Even the area of Las Vegas known as Old Town needs the newest technology to continue to be the city’s second-most popular tourist area. And, when Fremont Street Experience officials needed to upgrade a 15-year-old audio system to complement the popular Viva Vision overhead show seen by 19 million people every year, they knew just who to call.
Joe Pizzo, production manager for the Fremont Street Experience, says he had been using RCF equipment for about three years on the three live concert stages along the historic stretch so he knew the components were reliable and sturdy enough to handle a steady flow of visitors.
The Viva Vision canopy roof video display that runs the entire four-block length of the street in downtown Las Vegas is considered the crown jewel of the nightly show. It features high-resolution imagery and nightly programmed rock music video shows, but until late summer, it lacked state-of-the-art concert-quality sound to satisfy the multi-media entertainment experience.
Viva Vision is about 1,500 feet long—making it the largest of its kind in the world—and 90 feet wide. The screen is suspended 90 feet above Fremont Street’s renowned pedestrian mall, lined by some of the world’s most iconic casinos and hotels. The screen contains 12.5 million synchronized LED lamps that create a variety of light shows with high-resolution imagery and 550,000-watt concert-quality sound.
The Viva Vision shows last about six minutes and run every hour between dusk (6 to 8 p.m., depending on the season) and 1 a.m.
Inside the Installation
The job called for 50 speaker clusters along Fremont Street, each with 20 live array modules and one subwoofer. The original timeline for the installation, says Pizzo, was 12 to 18 months but that was quickly abbreviated to six months, which meant working overnight into early morning until wrapping it up in August, beating the accelerated deadline by a few weeks.
Each cluster is comprised of six RCF HDL20-A, active two-way dual 10-inch line array cabinets, with one RCF SUB8005-AS, a single 21-inch active subwoofer. The cluster configurations were designed in partnership with the RCF engineering team to control the sound and keep the volume on the street and not bleeding into the adjacent casinos and retail storefronts.
Here’s a look at the new and improved Fremont Street Experience:
Workers hung about two clusters every eight-hour shift from Main Street to 4th Street, says Pizzo. They pulled new fiber-optic cable from 4th Street to the Viva Vision canopy, creating 48 new wings to carry digital audio across thousands of feet, and replaced the old amplifier system along Fremont Street with self-powered boxes.
“Once the first 20 percent of the clusters were installed, we had a good system in place with little challenges,” says Pizzo. “The clarity was gone. [The old speakers] had definitely lived their lives well. You don’t usually notice how bad the old stuff sounds until you hear the new stuff.”
Along the way, installers cut out the old steel and painted the shackles black, says Pizzo.
“It’s been really transparent,” he says.
Once the speaker clusters were installed, Pizzo developed the DSP programming in the BSS network running the system. Steve Winchester of the Fremont Street Experience integrated the BSS system into the existing audio system, overcoming what Pizzo describes as “a few minor technical glitches within the network,” but he quickly resolved them.
“It’s such a major upgrade for us,” says Pizzo. “All we do at Fremont Street benefits greatly from the new system.”
RCF national sales manager Tarik Solangi says the Fremont Street Experience installation is “one of the most prominent installations RCF has done in the United States, and certainly one of the largest.”
The three live music stages along Fremont Street also are equipped with RCF gear. The main stage features 20 HDL50-A speakers, eight TT25-CXA monitor speakers and 10 SUB9007-AS high-power subwoofers.
Stage 2 features 16 HDL20-A speakers, five TT25CXA monitor speakers and eight SUB8006-AS subwoofers, while Stage 3 includes eight HDL20-A speakers, four HDL18-AS speakers, six ST12-SMA active stage monitors and three TTS36-A subwoofers.
“The last three years, we’ve revamped all of it,” says Pizzo. “It’s happened really quickly.”