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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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At Citi Field, a Yamaha M7CL 48-channel digital mixer drives the audio system from the control room over home plate. From the mixer to the amplifier closets, audio travels as CobraNet over Cat-5; from the closets to the loudspeakers, it’s over copper wire. A Yamaha M7CL is also used at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

At Citi Field, a Yamaha M7CL 48-channel digital mixer drives the audio system from the control room over home plate. From the mixer to the amplifier closets, audio travels as CobraNet over Cat-5; from the closets to the loudspeakers, it’s over copper wire. A Yamaha M7CL is also used at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Meanwhile, down the coast

This year, AVI-SPL was also busy closer to its Columbia, Md., office. The Maryland Stadium Authority wasn’t building a new stadium for the Orioles; rather, it was having the existing AV system completely overhauled at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. That meant pulling out all existing audio components except for the copper wire. The stadium authority hired AVI-SPL to integrate a new seating bowl sound-reinforcement design from SIA Acoustics in New York, which also served as a consultant on the project.

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This project’s timeframe was a lot slimmer than that of Yankee Stadium. “We were authorized to proceed in late October 2008, and we came online when they threw the first pitch in the beginning of April,” says Don Alberg, the AVI-SPL design engineer and project manager who was responsible for the engineering and drafting of the audio systems as well as the field coordination of the installation. He’d also worked on the engineering and integration of Camden Yards’ original system when the stadium was built in 1992. “We hit the ground running on this one,” he says of the 2009 overhaul. “We were working long hours to get it done on time, but that’s what AVI-SPL does. It’s like a performance.”

Alberg estimates he had 14 people working on the job in engineering and onsite. As with Yankee Stadium, AVI-SPL subcontracted the hanging of loudspeakers and pulling of wires to an electrical contractor. AVI-SPL crews completed the terminations. For this project, SIA Acoustics’ design specified EAW loudspeakers, mainly AX364 long-throw models and MK2364 nearfield cabinets. For Camden Yards, EAW also custom-designed the FX100, a weatherized version of its JF100 two-way loudspeaker.

As for amplifiers and DSP modules, it’s once again the combination of Crown CTs (CTs 3000 and CTs 2000 with PIP-Lite modules) and BSS London BLU (320, 160, and 120 models). The PIP-Lite amplifier modules enable digital control of amplifier gains, mute, power and load-monitoring status. AVI-SPL set DSP parameters using BSS’s London Architect software. “Then we migrated control functions over to System Architect for the user interface,” Alberg says. System Architect has the ability to control both BSS and Crown parameters. After copying parameters from London Architect to System Architect, the former did not need to be kept running. However, Alberg taught the operator to use both programs.

Tuning and commissioning at Oriole Park went fairly smoothly, as new loudspeakers replaced the older models almost one-for-one at their existing positions. “There were no dead zones in the existing system, so using that as a model to install the new system, that took all that guesswork out,” Alberg says. “We pretty much knew what we were up against when we walked in the building.”

For its part, the control room underwent an analog-to-digital distribution transition, necessitating a complete rebuild. Along with installing a Yamaha M7CL 48-channel digital console and training the operator how to use it, AVI-SPL also rebuilt the control room racks and installed new patchbays. At the same time as the audio system was being switched from analog to digital, Camden Yards was receiving an upgrade to its video-production infrastructure.



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