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Field Work

Sep 2, 2009 12:00 PM, By Trevor Boyer

Designing and implementing stadium audio systems for the 2009 MLB season.


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Crown CTs 3000 amplifiers power the front-firing horns of the EAW AX series loudspeakers at Citi Field. CTs 2000 amplifiers serve the rear-firing components of the custom “canceling” woofers in the stadium, as well as systems at Yankee Stadium.

Crown CTs 3000 amplifiers power the front-firing horns of the EAW AX series loudspeakers at Citi Field. CTs 2000 amplifiers serve the rear-firing components of the custom “canceling” woofers in the stadium, as well as systems at Yankee Stadium.

Crosstown similarities

A design firm and a fault-tolerant DSP design aren’t the only things that the new Yankee Stadium’s seating bowl sound-reinforcement system shares with that of Citi Field. Both systems rely on more than 200 Crown CTs series amplifiers to power their loudspeakers, at least 40 BSS London BLU boxes for signal processing, and System Architect software for the initial tuning and the day-to-day control of the respective systems. One major difference: The Yankee Stadium seating bowl design called for more than 600 JBL AM4212, PD5322, and Control 30 loudspeakers.

Skip Warrington of AVI-SPL’s large projects group in Columbia, Md., served as the senior project manager for the Yankee Stadium project, for which AVI-SPL implemented both sound reinforcement and control for the stadium’s seating and back-of-house (restaurants, press rooms, etc.) systems and the miles of audio and video cabling throughout the stadium. Warrington started working on the New York Yankees project in September 2007, but an 18-month lead time is nothing new for a large stadium project.

As with TSI and Citi Field, it was AVI-SPL’s job to integrate WJHW’s design for the Yankee Stadium audio system. The lead time made for an easier installation, he says. “One thing WJHW does that we really, really like is while they’re still putting steel up in the air, we’ll hang a set of speakers along two or three column lines looking for typical column-line profiles,” Warrington says. “They’ll literally tune these things while they’re stuck up on a pole. And what that gives us is all the parameters we need—the initial levels that we want, the aiming angles. So when we’re ready to turn this thing on, I don’t have to have a crew running around with a scaffold and ladders trying to re-aim speakers. They’re done.” Even with more than 600 loudspeakers in the seating bowl, the installation left no significant gaps in the coverage that needed to be addressed.

That cut down on the manpower that AVI-SPL needed to supply. Warrington estimates he had only three AVI-SPL employees with him in New York during the busiest stretch, from October 2008 through to Opening Day 2009. (The local union electricians numbered about 25 for audio and satellite master antenna television [SMATV] and 40 for broadcast, according to Warrington.) With a skeleton crew of actual AVI-SPL staff, Warrington says the company works more efficiently. “We’re an engineering company, really,” he says.

While engineers were overseeing the pulling of cable, Stephanie Bryl, lead onsite engineer with AVI-SPL, was performing her first programming job within Harman’s System Architect software. It was Warrington’s job to drive the interface she created for the user, the system operator. “She did a good job,” he says. “The two engineers I had on this project were just excellent engineers.” System Architect was also a key component of the tuning and commissioning process; engineers used the software to set parameters for the DSP and the amplifiers.

Warrington, who estimates he has spent 20 of the last 30 years on the road working on large construction projects, says he stayed in New York into June. During the early part of the season, he addressed issues such as the odd bad connector and customer confusion with touchpanel controls going into autoshutdown.



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