Stade de France

The Stade de France has replaced its Nexo PA system with a new installation from event production company Melpomen, key component suppliers Nexo and AuviTran, and the Stade de France sound department led by Fabien Budnik.

The original system dates back to 1997 when the Stade was erected, in time for the World Cup football in 1998. After 14 years’ service, the Nexo Alpha system has given way to an equally forward-looking SR design.

Purpose-built for events as well as its primary sporting engagements, football and rugby, the Stade de France is a 80,000+ capacity venue. Alongside main operation, the lower stands can slide out to allow it to be reconfigured to house a running track for track and field events, or to be used for concerts and other events.

To meet its various needs, Melpomen project manager Sylvain Brottes coordinated the design and installation of a 13-zone audio system, featuring nearly 300 Nexo Geo-S12 custom loudspeaker cabinets, and nearly 30 RS18s – the first time these sub-bass units have been used in a sports stadium.

Stade de France Together with Nexo’s GeoSoft programme and Ease, Melpomen’s design was chosen for the high levels of control it provided – control of the directivity of the loudspeaker output, which keeps the sound within regulation limits and within the stadium itself; and control of the operation of the system, which allows any signal to be sent to any zone from pitch to car-parks from a single control room.

The sound system is split to cover the upper and lower parts of the stadium – 40 clusters of cabinets are flown from the roof for the stands. Seven S12s are directed at the upper levels, while a separate array of six S12s serve the lower levels. Another 32 S12cabinets are used for fill at ground level. And a total of 27 RS18s are flown. ‘We can change any loudspeaker in any cabinet in 30 minutes, although the Nexo NXAmps provide excellent protection,’ says Budnik.

A high level of diagnostic control is provided by 32 NXAmps, tucked away in nine amplifier rooms in the stadium roof. These provide full diagnostic information to the control room, warning of a problem in a rack even if its functionality is not affected. An additional eight NXAmps are used to control a separate PA system for the stadium plaza, the open areas surrounding the stadium, which is equipped with Nexo Geo-S8 compact line array modules.

The NXAmp is an EtherSound amplifier, and the Stade de France system runs on a full EtherSound network. Such is the level of system control that any input can be sent to any output at the Stade – publicity announcements for the car parks or a message to a specific area of the grandstand can all be routed independently.

Stade de France
Fabien Budnik, Chef de groupe Audio Video
at Stade de France
The fibre-optic cable network runs from 11 Yamaha SB168-ES stageboxes – 10km of interconnect installed in a ring architecture, which has itself saved a huge amount of cabling for the installation team. ‘The main advantage is in flexibility, interoperability and monitoring with minimum latency,’ explains Jeremie Weber of AuviTran. ‘Although there are less than 20 AuviTran units in the stadium (an AVM500 and an AVNF49 in each of nine racks for the fibre-optic safety ring control and management), the network offers matrix capability of 320x320, and the Stade is currently using around half of that capacity.

‘With AVNF49-ES units monitoring the amplifiers in the racks, if one blows up, the system immediately switches to another,’ he adds. ‘Every device is continually monitored: if anybody unplugs anything in the stadium, it will immediately show on the screen in the control room.’

The AuviTran and Nexo pairing is a regular design for stadia in France, and recently two football stadia in Morocco have bought into the combination. One of the key components of the formula is the new customised S12-ST cabinet, a special-order variation on Nexo’s popular S12 line array design. ‘We have modified it with a +3dB treble boost to provide the output necessary for a loudspeaker that is installed so far above its listeners: 45m above, in the case of the Stade de France,’ explains Paul Massiani, Nexo’s Stadium Sound Manager.

Installation of the new system began in September 2010, and the Stade de France project team, led by Stanilas Degardin, planned for a short period of overlap with the old Nexo Alpha system. One of the additional benefits of the Melpomen/Nexo design is that visiting production companies, bringing in high-profile concert artists and theatrical spectaculars, can opt to tie into the stadium’s system to cover the upper levels of seating.

More: www.nexo-sa.com

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