Musical Fountain debuts ‘no-joke’ sound system

Ottawa County

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Haven’s Musical Fountain danced with new life Thursday night as it debuted a new high-quality sound system.

“The (old) system was quite literally deteriorating,” Musical Fountain producer Ryan Strayhorn said Thursday afternoon, explaining why the audio often crackled and popped.

After working out a few kinks, the debut show started around 10:20 p.m. Spectators told 24 Hour News 8 they immediately noticed an improved sound quality.

One man from Grant said that he has been coming to watch the fountain for 39 years. In previous years, he had even seen some smoke rising from the crackling amplifiers.

That was not the case Thursday.

The show was a mix of old and new music, which most of the crowd said they thoroughly enjoyed.

Below the Musical Fountain, which sits about 700 feet across the Grand River from the Waterfront Stadium, is a concrete building filled with a maze of neatly labeled pipes. It has been there since the fountain was built in the 1960s.

Now it’s got some new hardware. This week, the old audio system was removed and the new one installed.

“It’s quite literally two speakers in one,” Strayhorn explained. “This is the no-joke speaker.”

Strayhorn said spectators helped get the $150,000 system, the first major upgrade in about 25 years.

“People would say, ‘The audio, it sounds really weird. It sounds crackled. It sounds distorted.’ And the truth is it was,” He said.

In the past, the audio had to be cranked so high it distorted the sound quality, especially during big events.

Andy Cawthon, the chair of the Grand haven Musical Fountain Committee, promised “earbud-quality sound” with the new system.

“I do think that they will notice a difference, especially in the clarity,” he said.

With its first show Thursday, the fountain delivered. The clear audio is made possible by 16 folded subwoofers and multiple new speakers (each of which weighs about 400 pounds) pointed backward to essentially slingshot the sound to listeners’ ears.

“The farthest we’ll reach is all the way down by Snug Harbor (restaurant), which is close to about 2,000 feet, roughly,” Strayhorn said.

Strayhorn explained that the upgrade is still subject to Mother Nature and other factors. Wind, boats between the fountain and Waterfront Stadium and humidity are just a few things that can affect the reach.

  • Behind the scenes Grand Haven Musical Fountain
  • Behind the scenes Grand Haven Musical Fountain
  • Behind the scenes Grand Haven Musical Fountain
  • Behind the scenes Grand Haven Musical Fountain
  • Behind the scenes Grand Haven Musical Fountain
  • Grand Haven Musical Fountain
  • Grand Haven Musical Fountain
  • Grand Haven Musical Fountain

>>App users: Behind the scenes of the Musical Fountain

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