Audio evolution at Israel’s largest indoor stadium
Charlotte Ashley discovers the challenges of bringing 2018 technology to a space built nearly 50 years earlier from the team behind the technical transformation of Israel’s largest indoor stadium.
Once a roofless space with no seats and only concrete stands, Israel’s premier stadium has experienced something of a renaissance. After doubling from 5,000-person capacity in 1970s, its modernisation has seen it grow not only in infrastructure, but in the AV technology driving the spectator experience.
The stadium’s most ambitious upgrade to date came last year, as local integrator ProTouch and consultant Harel Tabibi joined forces to bring comprehensive audio coverage, large LED visuals and an extensive networking and control system to the 23,460-square metre space. The key challenge laid out by the venue’s owner, the Municipality of Tel Aviv, alongside managing company Sports Palaces, was to deliver the optimum system able to work harmoniously with the venue’s long-standing roof structure.
“We won the tender to deliver this project, but there was a lot of competition because it’s the main arena in Tel Aviv and it has a big reputation in Israel. Budget also wasn’t an issue for this reason,” explains Kfir Ben Avat, project manager at ProTouch, which has a vast portfolio of local stadium work. Home of the Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team, the Menora Mivtachim Arena has cemented its reputation over the years through accommodating sports events, but also hosts a packed schedule of entertainment events throughout the year. “The stadium’s main use is for basketball games, but it’s also used for theatre, musicals and other events that require 360-degree coverage,” says Avat.
“The project was far-reaching, because it wasn’t just about audio – everything works with Dante, and it’s all controlled by a Crestron system,” he continues. Critically, this approach to the project simplified the day-to-schedule of the six-person technical team who work at the arena – a requirement laid out from the beginning. “The team at the arena can do whatever they want in the arena with the AV systems now through the one touchscreen, whether that be soundchecks, playing songs, switching inputs or just turning everything on or off.” Outside of the control room, a 300-square-metre LED screen now serves as a focal point of the main arena space, working with an NUC computer running custom control software when in use during basketball games. This was installed as part of a second display tender overseen by Yogi Mazuz of Protouch.
“The difficulty was to provide a solution that was low in weight, yet still a powerful and high quality choice appropriate for an audience of 12,000.”
Due to working with a 1972-built roof that could handle limited weight, the audio side of the project required a little more planning, notes Harel Tabibi, consultant on the project. “The difficulty was to provide a solution that was low in weight, yet still a powerful and high quality choice appropriate for an audience of 12,000.” Avat adds, “The last system was installed five years ago and it was very small – 15-in speakers that didn’t reach the stadium’s height (almost 30 metres), meaning they were always renting. Every time a new show would come to the area, they would need to bring in people to take all the clusters down.”
Eventually ProTouch opted to deploy a TW Audio system to ensure even coverage throughout the venue, comprising of a distributed system of more than 50 boxes. “We chose to base the design on the T24N loudspeaker as it could provide the power needed, yet was still very lightweight.” Suspending the loudspeakers in such circumstances required the installation team, including live event specialist The Charmer Group, to use ropes to reach up. “Because of the material of the floor you can’t come with lifts even if they are carried, so all the wiring and hanging was done with strapping, which was very tough, especially as it’s a very old arena.” With only one space available for housing amplifiers, around 20km of speaker cable was required for the install.
ProTouch handled the design for the hanging, comprising 46 flown T24N enclosures covering the arena, after the team made the decision to slightly increase by a cluster for even more solid coverage. The T24Ns are suspended from the roof in two oval rings – an inner ring of 12 distributed T24Ns, and an outer ring with 16 speaker clusters, each comprising two vertically arrayed T24N boxes. The enclosures in the outer ring (producing 60 x 40 degree dispersion) deliver intelligibility across the middle and upper rows of seating, while T24N boxes within the inner ring (producing 40 x 60 degree coverage) perform the same function for the lower rows and VIP seats. Two extra T24Ns are located at either end of the arena, producing 90 x 50 degree coverage for the upper-most tiers of seating. Eight B30 subwoofers provide low-end extension while power is delivered by 12 Lab.gruppen D120:4L amplifiers and a single D200:4L, with transport via Dante.
Due to the venue’s non-stop schedule, the project was completed over the course of a month with the installation team undertaking weekend work around events to reach the finish line. Since its completion, the venue’s director, Guy Rozenblat, has since come out to praise the attention to detail shown by all involved; “The sound systems, with the support of its engineers, have produced a clean, powerful and high-quality sound that is so consistent that there is no difference between one seat and another, which is exactly what we were looking for.”
Crestron control system
Lab.gruppen D120:4L and D200:4L amplifiers
LightKing 300 sq m LED display
NovaStar MCTRL600 display controllers
Shure ULX-D digital wireless system
TW AUDiO T24N loudspeakers and B30 subwoofers
XTA DS8000/D audio distribution system