Citi Field Gets It Loud and Gets It Right

By Dan Daley

When the online forums and blogs are crowing about the sound system in a baseball stadium, you know something is up. A poster on encapsulates the sentiment: “The sound system at Citi Field sounds awesome,,, LOUD as hell!”

That affect is achieved by the 560 speakers that fill the bowl of the 42,000-seat architectural homage to the old Ebbet’s Field. They’re EAW MK and AX series boxes, many of them a custom-made model that can fire front, down, and rear simultaneously.

All audio is routed via 40-plus BSS Soundweb London BLU DSP processors and CobraNet, including eight BLU-800 and 10 BLU-80 signal processors, 14 BLU-160 networked signal processor, and 20 BLU-120 I/O expanders. The PA system is powered by a muscular Crown amplifier system made up of 61 CTS1200LITE, 19 CTS200LITE, and 160 CTS300LITE amps.

The system follows a highly localized distributed design by consulting firm WJHW and implemented by systems integrator TSI Global, with a delay ranging from 35 to 95 ms. The large number of under-balcony speakers assures that the sound in Citi Field will be much clearer than in the old Shea Stadium, especially in seats under overhanging tiers.

TSI Global and New Jersey-based NEAD Electric installed both front- and back-of-house distributed sound systems, as well as the broadcast audio and cabling. It also added another layer in the form of a land-based Ethernet on fiber from the control room to the audio-distribution closets.

“Distributing the sound this way,” says David Potts, senior field engineer for TSI Global, “means we can have lower overall levels throughout the stadium and still have plenty of volume and intelligibility.”

The system is delayed vertically through the upper- and middle-tier levels, with delays computed using SMAART software; the lower levels and outfield reaches of the bowl are served by smaller clusters made up of various combinations of EAW MK5396, MK5364, and MK2396 enclosures.

A customized version of EAW’s full-range AX 364 box — modified to fire forward, down, and to the rear simultaneously — is used on the clubhouse levels. A pair of 10-inch woofers are aimed downward to cancel out low-frequency buildup in those bass trap-type spaces. “It’s the first time I’ve ever seen that done,” says Potts of the AX364-210. “When you look at the lows on the screen, you can graphically see them drop at specific frequencies when the custom speakers are turned on.”

The paging system uses Tannoy CVS6 and DI6 DCT speakers in ceiling- or bracket-mounted throughout the concessions and toilet areas.

All of this is managed from the main control room on Level 5, aka the Excelsior Level, where a Yamaha M7CL-48 digital console with two AES input cards and a CobraNet card is sited. The routing that’s hubbed there is as flexible as it gets: tie lines can take any audio in any direction, including sending a feed from the PA channels directly to broadcast.

“We were really excited about being part of this,” says Paul Murdick, VP of AV for TSI Global, which also did AV-systems integration at the Cardinals’ Busch Stadium. “This is the way stadiums should sound.”

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