16.04.18

Audio evolution at Israel’s largest indoor stadium

view of basketball match taking place at Menora Mivtachim Arena, Israel from high in the stands

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.”

Tech-Spec

BSS BLU-DA

Crestron control system

Klotz cables

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