In addition to staging rugby, football and athletics, Stade de France also has a distinguished history of hosting major concert events, with the Rolling Stones and U2 among the acts to have performed at the iconic facility.
A number of companies were invited to tender for the new upgrade contract. After a successful demonstration of a Yamaha/Nexo solution, Nantes-based Melpomen (the company which installed the original Nexo Alpha-based system) was selected for the project.
The solution deployed by Melpomen features a Yamaha M7CL48-ES digital mixing console, 11 SB168-ES stage boxes, two DME64N and one DME24N digital mixing engines, nine AuviTran AVM500-ES EtherSound network matrices, nearly 300 Nexo Geo S12 loudspeakers, 20 RS18 subwoofers and 42 NXAMP 4x4C amplifiers.
“We used our recent upgrade of the Beaujoire stadium in Nantes as the template for Stade de France,” said Sylvain Brottes, project manager at Melpomen. “Working closely with Yamaha, Nexo and Auvitran, we were able to deliver a solution which met all the requirements of Stade de France.”
The system is divided into four zones, covering the north, south, east and west areas of the stadium’s oval stands, with a total of 44 loudspeaker clusters. Each zone corresponds to a mono EtherSound channel broadcast from the M7CL mixing console, the signal to each then being split into four to provide optimum coverage for each level of seating (top, middle, lower and ‘athletics mode’). Additional tiers of lower seating can be slid out for some events, but are not required for athletics meetings as they cover the running track. This mode allows some of the lower speakers to be switched off when the lowest tiers are retracted.
Two more channels, five and six, cover the pitch and the ‘courtyard’ outside the stadium respectively. Outputs seven and eight allow for recording of the stadium’s audio programme and announcements, via an MY8-AE interface card and a Tascam CD recorder (this satisfies legal requirements for monitoring content from the stage during concerts), while channels nine and ten are used for television feeds.
On the input side, the 11 SB168-ES stage boxes are distributed around the stadium on a ring architecture EtherSound network, allowing the use of wireless microphones and other inputs from a range of locations. Playback audio comes from CD players and a PC running Steinberg Cubase.
EQ, system optimisation and overrides for alarms and safety messages are managed by a Yamaha DME64N, with a second unit as a backup. Both are connected to an AuviTran AVRed-ES100 with two output ports, one automatically switching to the other in the event of failure. The DME64Ns are connected to the stadium’s Ateis IDA8C voice evacuation system, whose outputs are converted to EtherSound by an AuviTran AVA4-ES100 interface.
Meanwhile, the DME24N manages a separate audio system which covers the circulation area outside the stadium. Taking audio from channel six of the stadium’s M7CL, it features 18 clusters of Geo S8 and NXAMP 4x4C amplifiers.
“The new system has made a huge difference to what we can do,” said Fabien Budnik of Stade de France’s audio-visual department. “It has given us many more possibilities than we had before. I asked the sound engineers who regularly work what console they preferred and they voted for the M7CL. They have everything at hand and it is proving very popular.”