New Meadowlands Stadium: Not Just a Video Masterpiece
Much has been written about the massive video intrastructure at New Meadowlands Stadium and they way it delivers content to every visitor. But the audio system is also cutting-edge.
To counter this, Graham decided that speakers would be placed on the fascia of the stadium's various levels, which presented more challenges. LED ribbon boards running the length of the stadium's interior meant that the audio team had to move to the upper level to find adequate space for attaching the largest boxes. And the further up they positioned those speakers, the more powerful the loudspeakers had to be. And of course, because the speaker system was mounted externally, all the boxes needed to be weather-resistant.
Graham settled on a dual-box configuration in which a JBL PD5322/64 three-way loudspeaker was coupled with a JBL AL6115 high-power, low-frequency loudspeaker with a front-loaded 15-inch vented gap cooled low-frequency driver. Both were weatherized using JBL's own WRX protection (many other installed JBL speakers also have WRK protection). "We added the AL6115 to direct more low frequencies to the far seating by band-passing them and adding some delay to steer the lows forward, creating a null just below them," Graham explains.
The combination fires downward toward the seats with sufficient power to cover the 150 feet between the speakers and the stands. However, aiming was crucial.
"At these distances, you have less control of the sound, and that's where you start to experience cross-field [echo-like] effects," Graham says.
He based the initial aiming on predictive models created in JBL's EASE modeling program. Those models were given to AV integrator Pro Media/Ultrasound, which agreed to first perform a full-scale test of the models on a small sliver of the stadium while it was still under construction.
After positioning and firing test signals through the speakers, then measuring the results, Pro Media/Ultrasound chief operating office Ted Leamy took the data back to Graham, who used the information to more precisely fine-tune the aiming in the virtual CAD model.
"Mark was able to readjust aiming angles in the modeling program so that by the time we actually installed the speakers in the stadium, virtually no further adjustments were necessary," Leamy says. "It was a case of 'measure twice, cut once."
The New Meadowlands Stadiums video systems may get all the glory, but its massive distributed audio installation delivers concert-level sound and can adapt to multiple tenants.
Credit: Pro Media/Ultrasound
The delays are applied progressively from top to bottom, with the speakers on the light truss over the upper deck getting no delay and the field-level speakers getting the greatest amount of delay. This creates a smooth transition between sections of the raked seating, while at the same time addressing the cross-field issue.
"Anytime you hear the cross-field speaker longer than 30 milliseconds, it will be perceived as an echo," says Graham. "By choosing the right speakers and aiming them so that we knew exactly what the arrival times of the sound would be everywhere, we took care of it."
In total, the New Meadowlands Stadium includes 1,050 JBL speakers in the main bowl, powered by 462 Crown CTs 1200, CTs 2000, CTs 3000, CTs 4200, and CTs 600 amplifiers connected over a HiQnet System Architect network. EQ is handled in System Architect at the amplifier level. There are 600 more JBL, Tannoy, and Atlas speakers in clubs, corridors, restrooms, and other ancillary areas, with Community R.5 speakers servicing the open concession areas. All the loudspeakers are controlled using a combination of Peavey NION and System Architect.
Graham says complex solutions for distributed sound in venues such as the New Meadowlands Stadium could become the norm. "When distributed systems first came into vogue 20 years ago, stadiums were being designed with a lot more space in between their tiers," he says. "As they collapse them to add more premium seating, it adds more intricacies to the system design. The choice of the speaker is also important and the JBL PD5000 series is a great-sounding box that gives you a lot of control."