Swanson Sound Upgrades School for the Deaf
McCauley ID Series Installed to Create Sensory Impact
Who would have predicted in the 1920’s that a loudspeaker-equipped truck pulling a billboard ad would have grown into a very successful sound equipment company within a few decades?
Art Swanson founded Swanson Sound Service in 1926, which makes it “the oldest sound company on the planet”, according to Michael Beyl, General Systems Manager. Originally they drove a truck around Oakland towing a billboard and searchlights with large roof-mounted horns, to advertise sales and events.
After employee Donald A. Nielsen assumed ownership of the company in 1952, he oversaw the growth of the rental equipment focus. Swanson Sound became a concert touring company in the 60’s, providing large touring systems for the Pop, Rock and Soul acts of that time. Artists included Elvis Presley, The Grateful Dead, Herbie Hancock, Steve Miller, Crosby Stills & Nash, Dick Clark, The Smothers Brothers, Joni Mitchell, Tower Of Power, Jefferson Airplane, Credence Clearwater Revival, and Bill Graham Presents, in venues such as The Fillmore Auditorium, Winterland, and the Shoreline Amphitheatre.
In the late seventies, Swanson expanded its services to include the design and installation of permanent sound systems in addition to the temporary installs required for concerts, and this became Swanson’s focus in the 90’s. After Donald’s death in 2002, his wife, Joyce, assumed Owner/President status. Typical Installations now include houses of worship, auditoriums, schools, theatres, boardrooms, warehouses, sports facilities, restaurants and much more. Current customers include: The University of California at Berkeley, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Fish & Wildlife, Oakland Unified School District, Oakland
Parks & Recreation, University of San Francisco, the City of Oakland, the City of Hayward, Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, Metro Center, Creflo Dollar Ministries, Marriott, Sheraton, Holiday Inn, several churches and many others.
Another happy customer of Swanson Sound is the California School for the Deaf in Fremont, California. The latest project involved an update to the school gym. Because Swanson does all of the sound for the school, including a previous theatre upgrade, the school contacted them when they wanted more bass for the gym. Swanson researched and tested products and were set to go with another brand, but switched to McCauley because it was so much better. They liked the low frequency response of the sub-woofers because, with the deaf and hard-of-hearing, it is all about the vibrations. This first experience with McCauley was so positive that Swanson plans to use them again for future installations. The three year project was successful and the school is happy with the results.
The school spent $50,000 on this upgrade to their gym, which included four of the ID2.112-99 2-way full-range speakers, and four of the CSM88 Coupling Subwoofer Modules. The speakers are mounted on vertical walls that extend down from the ceiling, two per side, firing out toward the bleachers, rather than toward the gym. As Michael reports, “It rocks”. Because the students running the equipment cannot hear it, the project also required a DST box, due to its heavy limiting ability. The sub-woofers have to have limits on their enormous power
or the students might blow them out. The ID2.112-99 speakers have increased the level of vibrations in the gym to a point such that students can feel the buzzers go off at athletic events such as wrestling and basketball. The hard-of-hearing students can hear the sound, while the deaf students feel it. It is big asset to dances/dance performance because the students can feel the vibrations from the powerful sub-woofers. The heavy bass also increases the enjoyment of music. According to studies, the part of the brain which reacts to music in those with normal hearing is also stimulated by music’s vibrations in the hearing impaired. This suggests that the deaf experience music in a similar way to that of hearing people. *
The project also included other brands of equipment: A Shure wireless system; Ashley DST; Ashley knob mixer; Marantz playback equipment; the biggest QSC power amps (6.1); a Mid-Atlantic equipment rack, and Goose Juice AC power sequential equipment.
CSD is an internationally acclaimed school for deaf children, serving 500 students from pre-school through 12th grade. The students, 65% of which live on the 91-acre Fremont campus, come from as far north as the California border and as far south as San Luis Obispo. They return home each weekend. There is no cost for parents for attendance or room and board. Approximately 50% of the instructional staff is deaf, providing positive role models for students. CSD has full-time supervising counselors and night attendants to ensure a comprehensive program for students after school. Extracurricular activities include football, basketball, volleyball, baseball, softball, wrestling, cross country, track, and swimming. The high school has an active drama department whose most recent productions included Annie in 2007, Cinderella Waltz in 2006 and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, 2005.
From loudspeakers carried on a panel truck for advertising purposes, to aiding in the improvement in quality of life for deaf students and staff at a California school, Swanson Sound has indeed come a long way!
* By Walter Neary Nov. 27, 2001 | Health and Medicine : “Brains of Deaf People Rewire To 'Hear' Music”