The Bells of Bellagio


A tree-lined boulevard, an eight-acre lake, and a choreographed ballet of water, light, and music are part of the outdoor show at Bellagio, Steve Wynn's new Tuscan-style hotel and casino in Las Vegas. Inspired by the village of Bellagio overlooking Lake Como in Italy, the hotel's design includes a bell tower, a classic architectural feature in Italian villages.

Located on the south end of the lake, the bell tower marks the entrance to Bellagio's winding driveway and people mover, and also houses the hotel's street-front signage. As visitors approach the lake, they are welcomed either by the sonorous pealing of bells or the booming tenor voice of Italian opera singer Andrea Bocelli singing his signature aria, "Con Te Partito."

To cover the large area of the lake and have the sound heard over the noisy traffic on the Las Vegas strip, eight Community CBA 6060 and six CBS315 loudspeakers are hung on two different levels in the tower. The CBA/CBS speakers are the contractor version of Community's AirForce concert speakers, a three-way, high-output, high-power, horn-loaded system utilizing the latest driver technology for extra clarity and transient accuracy in large environments.

The majority of the CBA/CBS speakers are located at the top level of the bell tower and positioned on frames that are bolted to the concrete floor. The upper level speakers are positioned to cover several directions: north toward Lake Bellagio; east (across the strip); and south (down the strip).

On a lower level, two CBA6060 speakers are facing out of the windows on the north and south sides of the tower. These units are hanging from angle irons secured on the top flange of a structural beam. The secret to the system is that the Community speakers actually provide the sound, while the bells in the tower are a scenic element and don't actually move.

The outdoor sound systems at Bellagio were installed by SPL (Signal Perfection Limited, a PRG company), with Phil de Paula as project manager and Dave Callahan (who has since joined the Las Vegas firm, Sasco Electric, where he is a project manager) and Kent Corbell serving as onsite project coordinators.

"The top of the tower is 240' straight up, and there is only a ship's ladder for access," explains Callahan. A Hecht lift was used to get the speakers and framework up to the top. "We had to pull the wire down to the amp room," he says, noting that the processing equipment for the bell tower is located at the base of the entrance stairway to the tower itself. A number of Crest CKV and CKS-series amplifiers controlled by Crest NexSys(R) power the system.

SPL also handled the audio portion of the lakefront fountain show, using custom-designed Apogee MTO30 and MTO31 speakers, Crest amplifiers with NexSys, and a Peavey Media Matrix system. Many of the speakers are located in the lampposts around the lake, with fill speakers and woofers in the base of the lamps. The audio signals emanate from the main tower via a QSC Rave fiber-optic distribution system located on the west side of the lake.

"This job was pretty straightforward for us," says de Paula. "What made it challenging is that the control room is located far from the lakefront. We used a network system to run the audio remotely with fiber optics." The control system for the lakefront show is operator-initiated.

"All the interactive audio matrices interact with the water jets and the lights," Callahan adds. "Aesthetically, it sounds good no matter where you are standing."