Concert quality sound for ANZ Stadium

by FM Media
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A $3 million sound system upgrade to Sydney’s ANZ Stadium gives concert-sound quality to the 83,500-capacity venue, setting a new standard for stadium sound in Australia and matching the best in the world.

ANZ Stadium’s new sound system, installed by The P.A. People, doubles the number of speaker boxes to 374 suspended in clusters. The system is based around the stadium geometry, with loudspeaker clusters suspended up to 45 metres high in the four quadrants, each served by its own amplifier room. The four-way stereo design comprises 266 full-range line-array loudspeaker elements, 44 full-range loudspeakers and 64 sub-bass cabinets.
The system was designed by Scott Willsallen of Auditoria, with d&b components supplied by National Audio Systems, and new hoists by Jands Theatre Projects. Each of the quadrants was installed in a single week through May to enable the entire PA to be fully operational for weekend club matches.
One of the main design tasks for the new sound system at ANZ Stadium was the conception and design of the flying frames and brackets for the d&b loudspeaker hardware. While d&b provided 3D models of each of the speaker cluster elements, The P.A. People’s engineering design and fabrication team crafted each of the clusters in such a way that they could be supported from just two points each under the catwalks at the stadium.
The design process was complicated due to the requirement to rotate the main axis of each of the components on the majority of clusters to achieve a radial distribution pattern. Precise geometry and calculation of each of the speaker cluster and frame elements was required in order to maintain the balance of the cluster, with some clusters weighing almost a tonne and measuring almost 7 metres in length.
The clusters were fabricated at The P.A. People’s workshop in Sydney and then sent out for galvanising and painting before being delivered to site at the beginning of each of the four installation weeks.
In a site the size of ANZ Stadium everything is a long way apart, both horizontally and vertically. The P.A. People used a pair of temporary staging decks under each speaker location to facilitate the removal of the old speakers and reinstallation of each of the new clusters. Once the clusters arrived on site they were driven to the appropriate location and manhandled onto the platforms. From there, the speaker chain hoists were used to assist in assembling the clusters before they were lifted to their final resting place.
During each weekly installation period, two teams installed the system in one quadrant with one team handling the loudspeaker and cluster installation, while the second team stripped and fitted out the amplifier room to support the new system. On each Friday night during the installation period, the entire system (comprising both new and old clusters) was used to support a local NRL match.
“Our knowledge of the ground, developed over nearly 15 years, places us in a unique position to understand the requirements of a new system, the wide range of events it needs to serve and the stadium’s expectation of that delivery for their clients and audiences. Having delivered three systems since 1998, and having engaged with every major event over that period as well as servicing the entire system since its installation, we get that ‘expectation’ and responsibility in spades,” Chris Dodds, managing director of The P.A. People, comments.

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