d&b delivers intelligibility, flexibility and efficiency for VELTINS Arena.

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The VELTINS Arena, home to German football team FC Schalke 04, is one of Europe’s leading multi-purpose large venues, hosting top flight football games, as well as hosting a multitude of other events, including classical music performances, trade fairs and rock concerts.

The stadium was designed with multi-functionality in mind. Seated, the venue accommodates 62,271, and can fit almost 80,000 for events using the pitch area. Key to the Arena’s success is its enviable twenty first century infrastructure, including a retractable roof, and its natural grass pitch which can be hydraulically rolled in and out.

The demands of modern life.

In 2017 the venue decided to bring its sound reinforcement system up to the same high standard. The original system, installed in 2001, was in constant need of repair, and no longer met the venue’s standards of energy efficiency. A new system was required to meet the modern demands of the stadium.

The new installation required a system that would provide both excellent intelligibility for announcements and full-range reproduction of musical content, as well as an emergency warning and alarm system in case of evacuation.

Acoustics consultancy GRANER + PARTNER was brought in to oversee the selection of the new system, and after tests awarded Salzbrenner media GmbH with the installation contract.

The solution.

A total of fourteen line arrays were fitted to the stadium’s oval roof, in line with GRANER + PARTNER’s EASE simulation, which formed the basis for calculations in the d&b ArrayCalc software. Each array consists of twelve d&b Vi8 loudspeakers, with two cardioid Vi-SUBs flown behind. The cardioid construction of the d&b Vi-SUBs means that there is no need for a third subwoofer facing backwards.

The upper tier seating is covered by forty Vi7P loudspeakers operated as a delay line. These can also be used for infill at concerts when a PA system is set up by an external touring production. Clusters of 8 x 2 Vi7P loudspeakers cover the entire pitch area and/or the interior of the stadium. All loudspeaker cabinets are WR (weather-resistant) and painted in RAL 9001 (cream white) to match the steel beams of the roof.

The four channel 30D amplifiers are housed in 19” racks positioned on weather protected catwalks. For safety reasons, they are controlled digitally via AES/EBU, with analogue inputs as backup. The control signals for the amplifiers, configured using the R1 Remote Control Software, are routed over the Q-SYS network.

For daily operation, the arena staff can easily access presets for any given situation via a touch panel, while a computer in the control room provides full access to all the system parameters for trained sound engineers.

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Put to the test.

Following the installation, precise measurements were conducted by acoustics expert Professor Dr. Anselm Goertz. These encompassed a variety of possible scenarios, including with or without the pitch in place, and with the roof open and closed. The results showed that the STI (Speech Transmission Index) values met the specifications and achieved an extremely high level of intelligibility.

“We obtained STI values of over 0.5 in an empty arena - that’s a top rating for a stadium of this size,” says Alexander Baron of Stage Systems Veranstaltungstechnik GmbH & Co. KG, the arena’s preferred technical support provider. “… we’re talking of an enclosed space of 1.3 million cubic meters and sound-reflecting surfaces made of concrete and glass. Under these circumstances, an STI rating of over 0.5 is amazing.”

Key to these outstanding results is d&b ArrayProcessing. An optional function of the d&b ArrayCalc Simulation Software that provides sophisticated optimization of d&b line array systems, ensuring the same quality of sound for each audience member. ArrayProcessing exploits the full acoustic potential of the d&b J, V, and Y-Series. It can also be used to modify individual zones if required. For example, the press box at VELTINS Arena has its level reduced to minimize sound bleed into commentators’ head mics, while spectators in the lower grandstand section, covered by the same array, can hear no difference.

The results.

The broadcast sound from VELTINS Arena now meets the highest standards, and the improvement has been noted by visiting broadcast teams. The result is even noticeable to TV viewers. Gone is the background hum, so announcements made over stadium loudspeakers can be clearly heard.

“Since the conversion, sound is crystal clear in reports from the VELTINS arena.” says Baron. “I haven’t heard anything better so far.... Intelligibility is excellent.”

The VELTINS Arena, with its superlative technical features, now has sound to match. The installation of the d&b audiotechnik system underlines the venue’s claim to be “more than just a stadium”.

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