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Start Your Engines


A high-quality audio system adds to the excitement at High Desert Harley-Davidson, in Meridian, Idaho. More than a motorcycle dealership, the 54,000-sq.-ft. facility is a destination whose cool styling and cutting-edge feel reflect the Harley brand.

“People don’t come here just to buy bikes. They come here to hang out, trade stories, and live and experience the Harley-Davidson lifestyle. Music and a great sound system are an important part of their visit,” said Peggy Myers, general manager, High Desert Harley-Davidson.

Located in a warehouse-styled building, the facility includes a showroom, merchandise area, customer lounge and coffee bar. The location also has a large outdoor area that is used for parking, live music events and test drives. The owner wanted to upgrade the audio to give customers the best sound experience possible, with a system that would contribute significantly to the overall atmosphere both indoors and outdoors.

But the nature of the space provided some challenges. The parking area offered limited mounting locations for loudspeakers, and the open floor plan on the interior made the space susceptible to reverberation and echoes.

“We had to create a sound system to overcome the volume of the energy of the sales floor without becoming a distraction,” said Ethan Wheeler, systems design consultant, AAtronics, Boise, Idaho, the systems-integration firm responsible for the design and installation of the system.

The materials used throughout the building created an additional challenge.

“There are a lot of metal, glass and other reflective surfaces, which create a pretty reverberant environment,” Wheeler said.

The solution devised by AAtronics utilized equipment from Bose Corp., including its ControlSpace electronics and FreeSpace loudspeaker sound systems.

In the parking lot, weather-resistant loudspeakers (FreeSpace DS 100SE) were installed. The speakers can be mounted horizontally or vertically and still provide 180 degrees horizontal coverage. This allowed AAtronics to use the existing light poles as mounting poles and still ensure wide sound coverage without having to add new mounting structures.

Inside, FreeSpace speakers (3 Omni systems) provide wide coverage while integrating easily with the existing structure.

“The small and compact single location Omni system covers a large area and provides full-range excellent quality audio without the need to post a number of large speakers throughout the space,” Wheeler said.

Additionally, flush-mount loudspeakers were used in areas with drop-tile ceilings.

“There is sound everywhere. From the minute you step out of your car in the parking lot and enter the showroom, music plays a strong role,” said Jack Hudnut, territory representative, Bose Corp.

The sound system is complemented by nine, large plasma screens that show footage of riding on an open road.

“You can sit on a bike, look at the large screen and actually feel the engine noise,” Wheeler said.

The sound system is easy to operate. It is controlled by an engineered sound processor (Control-Space ESP-88) that delivers sophisticated signal processing via simple-to-use wall-panel controls.

The system gives Harley-Davidson the flexibility to provide the right sound experience at the right time, with the push of a button. It starts with a relaxed mode for a more quiet experience in the morning to a normal mode as the day progresses. A high-energy mode is available for special events.

“The one thing we hear all the time is ‘Wow, this is such clear sound,’” said Harley-Davidson’s Myers. “The system keeps the entertainment and excitement flowing.”

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