Subscribe to CX E-News
The FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 is coming to Australia, and Adelaide’s own Coopers Stadium will proudly be playing host to five of its games.
For Coopers Stadium, this meant a substantial upgrade would be imminent; think brand new LED action replay screens, new grandstand cover, corporate rooms, and a significant upgrade to the audio system.
For Adelaide-based audiovisual production and installation company AJS, this meant the opportunity for a local business to secure the tender to not only meet FIFA’s incredibly stringent technical criteria, but to raise the bar beyond said spec, whilst delivering on-budget and on-time, with zero compromise in quality and service. It was settled. Coopers Stadium would be receiving an audio facelift like it had never seen and AJS would be taking the reins.
The magnitude of the challenges faced by AJS Managing Director Andrew Gayler and his team were rapidly becoming apparent as they prepared their gameplan for tender submission. Overcoming anticipated hurdles such as consumption of substantial capital and competing with the global market for demand from d&b and the likes was manageable and would be put in place upon awarding of tender.
Strong relationships with suppliers including NAS and TAG, plus extensive experience and knowledge of the product lines selected for the job would facilitate a relatively easy run. However, AJS was to encounter its biggest challenge when it came down to the physical aspect of install – working out where to hang equipment on the stadium structure.
“The extent of the amount of works didn’t become apparent until we got well into the job, specifically not only was design of the mounting brackets required, but we had to engineer where we mounted to the stadium,” explains Gayler. “The biggest issue was there was nowhere to hang anything at all. And part of the scope, which was the challenging part, was that problem was our problem.”
Previously, one vertical column of Bose Panaray was employed to service the entire stadium. Safe to say, no consideration for future PA systems was made in the original build of the stadium.
An expert programmer with extensive experience using Q-SYS and a vast amount of knowledge of and experience with the d&b audiotechnik product line, Gayler got the ball rolling: “I had a fair idea of what I thought product-wise would be suitable but I got in touch with Doug at Australian d&b audiotechnik distributor NAS and said ‘hey, this is what we’ve got, this is what I think, you have a look at it and send it off to the experts at d&b in Germany’. They came back very quickly with a full ArrayCalc design. When we looked at it, we saw that it was a little bit easier to achieve than the initial design because the biggest issue was there was nowhere to put anything, at all”, Gayler recalls, referring to the distressingly severe lack of apparent hanging points.
Technical drawings of the building were not available or even in existence anymore due to its age and minimal upgrades done to the facility over time. Peeling off the roof and having a good look at what the team were dealing with in terms of potential hanging solutions was the only viable option. AJS’ Tim Bekker, Senior Sales Consultant for AJS, along with the contracted engineer and the venue’s engineer liaised and concluded the building’s existing purlins would be sufficient to take the load.
“Don’t be focused on price, be very focused on getting us the best technical outcome that you can get.” This was the recommendation from client Adelaide Venue Management Corporation, who manage Coopers Stadium.
Upon being awarded tender, Gayler immediately rang NAS back “…and ordered everything. The control system and back end is Q-SYS, we ordered all the stuff”.
Despite FIFA not requiring the facility until July 2023, there was a client-imposed hard deadline of 30 October 2022 fast approaching – the first home game of the season for Adelaide United FC against Perth Glory FC. This, however, did not faze Gayler and the AJS team. Tim Bekker and the engineers were nose down putting final touches on the design of mounting brackets and the equipment side of the operation was proceeding full steam ahead.
Mounting brackets were a design by Bekker (Senior Sales Consultant by title, AJS hero of the project by acclaim), engineered by Able Engineering Melbourne and fabricated and installed by Sonnex – an Adelaide-based metal fabrication company who came to the party and delivered on their promise of product fabrication and installation within an impossible two-week timeframe. It certainly takes a village, but this PA was going to be raised, and it would be what client Adelaide Venue Management Corp., Coopers Stadium and FIFA could dream of, and more.
The level of support AJS received from NAS Solutions and d&b audiotechnik itself crowned them primary supplier for this project. “We pushed for very tight turnaround times to meet the tender requirements and we knew they were under an enormous amount of workload, because there’s so many projects going on around the world, but they facilitated us. From the design, with only a few minor tweaks of the physical layout of the cabinets, we were able to use that to then deploy to the amplifiers to give us a working system in a very rapid amount of time…and we also can’t thank Sonnex enough for their level of ability.”
The d&b A-Series was AJS’ pick for audio system, providing intelligibility and clarity beyond expectations through its implementation of “augmented array” and a newly developed acoustic refinement approach dubbed “Midrange Directivity Control”. Q-SYS would be Gayler’s weapon of choice for distribution and control, having worked with the system extensively throughout his career.
It was now time to put the pieces together. In its final state, Adelaide’s Coopers Stadium now houses the following:
The West stand accommodates four pods, each with four A-Series d&b cabinets, array processed, running back to d&b 30D amplifiers.
The East stand, showcasing a new cover for the existing grandstand, features six pods, each with three A-Series d&b cabinets, also array processed.
The North and South stands are equipped with V7P d&b point source speakers, running back to d&b 40D amplifiers. The V7Ps extend from the back of the grandstand on 6.5m masts, bolted directly to the concrete wall.
The newly built Corporate Boxes feature 14 d&b 8S point source speakers, covering the area under the balcony to the corporate boxes on the West stand.
End result is four amp racks – North, South, East and West. All employ d&b amplifiers, driven by Q-SYS system. A pair of Q-SYS Core 110Fs remain in redundant mode, taking over running the system should there be any failure. A redundant Local Area Network (LAN) is also in place in case one network fails, the other continues to run the system.
Gayler adopts a “less is more” philosophy, heading the system with an A&H SQ5 which communicates to other peripherals using Dante. A touch screen is accessed in the Level 6 Operations Box featuring an amplifier on/off button, as well as a button to alter levels and save presets for each zone design, including the corporate boxes.
Delay and gain structure are managed through the amplifiers. “We have to set everything in ArrayCalc in R1, we thought let’s set all the delays and all the gain structure through there. This gives the system operator a system set at unity gain at equal volume level in every area.”
Fully aware that no system is immune to potential failure, AJS has created a notification pop-up system on the main menu of the Q-SYS, immediately identifying what’s failing and where. An email alert is also issued. As each amp rack has its backup amp, the system automatically sends feed to the functioning amp, requiring only the swapping over of a speaker lead.
The End Result
Judgement day arrives. October 30, 2022, Adelaide United versus Perth Glory at Adelaide‘s Coopers Stadium.
“We don’t have experience doing stadiums, but we certainly have a lot of experience doing distributed audio and control systems”, states Gayler confidently about his team’s accomplishment.
So, apart from being visually overwhelmed by the d&b boxes distributed around the stadium (remember, one Bose column?), what did key representatives of client Adelaide Venue Management Corporation think?
When this is the first word that comes to mind for the layman to describe an audio experience you and your team have created, you know you have achieved your goal. So simple, yet it effectively defines the precise vocal clarity attendees at any sporting match will now experience at Coopers Stadium through their d&b audiotechnik PA system, proudly designed and installed by AJS of Adelaide.
Published monthly since 1991, our famous AV industry magazine is free for download or pay for print. Subscribers also receive CX News, our free weekly email with the latest industry news and jobs.