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EAW Anya audio powers world’s third-largest stadium

Metinteractive supplied audio for University of Michigan’s Michigan Stadium, the Western Hemisphere's third largest, and third biggest in the world

EAW Anya speaker arrays were supplied by Metinteractive, which provides strategic solutions for architecture, communication and technology, for the University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor-based Michigan Stadium, the largest stadium in the Western Hemisphere and the third largest in the world, seating almost 108,000 spectators.

Nicknamed “The Big House,” Michigan Stadium had a US$41 million facelift last year with the aim of enhancing the fan experience with bigger scoreboards, an improved audio system for better sound balance throughout the bowl, and new lighting.

Metinteractive Engineer Keith Book felt the Anya speakers offered several major advantages for a stadium system design, including an inline vertical form factor, a low frequency extension and the ability to throw high frequency over long distances. EAW Otto subwoofers were co-located above the Anya speakers.

Book explained that the ability to actively focus energy vertically is paramount when driving audio across a football stadium of length. It’s not just about even coverage for the audience, it’s about not exciting walls, scoreboards, glass or any other surface in its path.

Careful consideration was also given to environmental noise control and to obeying sound ordinances affecting residential and commercial property outside the stadium. Michigan Stadium didn’t want a loud show, but it needed to grab everyone’s attention at game time.

“The primary design challenge for Michigan Stadium was similar to those of other stadiums we’ve worked on but compounded by the sheer size of the facility,” said Book. “We had to get high- frequency sound 800 feet across to the other end zone.  The EAW Anya speaker array was one of the few products that could deliver what we needed.”

Anya’s vertical form factor allowed installation in a smaller cavity area within the new North scoreboard assembly. The 30-plus-foot-tall array also enabled service catwalk extensions behind the speaker systems. This would have been very difficult to coordinate and install with a more traditional curvilinear array system, Book said.

Metinteractive also provided downfill speakers for the area directly in front of the North scoreboard and under-mezz speakers for the east side’s upper seating, which was hard to reach with the main speaker array. These small powerhouse speaker systems were from the EAW MKD series and performed well paired with QSC Q-SYS power amps and DSP.

Shure Axient Digital mics provided a wireless system, primarily for referees. A Yamaha CL series console with SoundGrid and Waves integration brought everything together in the sound booth and represented a considerable upgrade over previous gear.

Metinteractive was contracted by Mitsubishi Electric, the project’s prime contractor and scoreboard provider. “We had worked with Metinteractive before, and it was very clear that they knew this job very well – they’re our go-to integrator and audio supplier,” said Jon Deiuliis, manager of projects and construction, Mitsubishi Electric.

Another challenge was the project’s tight timeline. “We needed to make it across the finish line in time for the Wolverines’ home opener,” said Don Ellis, project manager, Metinteractive. “The size and scope of this project was about as close to pro football as you can get on the college level.”

“There was nothing easy about this job,” added Deiuliis.  “It was a complex system that needed to work seamlessly, with time factored in to make adjustments, and operate perfectly for opening day.”

Deiuliis believes that Metinteractive’s process of mounting and testing all equipment at its Connecticut facility before arriving on site was “a key to the project’s success given the scope of the work. Everything was vetted ahead of time so Metinteractive was confident and ready to go in Michigan, and we experienced no major issues on site”.