Brazil Readies Venue Audio for Upcoming World Cup, Olympics
Three stadiums in Brazil that will form the locus of next year’s World Cup competitions are close to having their new audio systems and acoustics finalized. The Walters-Storyk Design Group (WSDG) worked on all three — the 62,160-seat Mineirão Stadium and the 25,000-seat Independencia arena, both in Belo Horizonte, and the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro — specifying sound and video systems and performing acoustical measurements.
The stadiums are old by almost any standard: Mineirão Stadium was built in 1965, the Independencia in the ’50s. Maracanã Stadium has undergone several facelifts already: in 2000 for FIFA’s inaugural Club World Cup and again in 2007 for the Pan American Games. Its current renovation has cost an estimated $500 million, sparking widespread protests by Brazilians. Brazil has undertaken a huge state project to renovate and upgrade its sports-venue infrastructure ahead of hosting the World Cup next year and the Olympics in 2016.
Known as “The Temple of Football” in Rio, Maracanã Stadium will host the final match of FIFA’s World Cup and the Olympics Opening and Closing Ceremonies. It’s huge; its basic design is for 78,838 spectators, but it has been reconfigured in the past to hold far more: 250,000 people saw KISS there in 1983, and 188,000 watched Tina Turner in 1988. WSDG has designed the audio and video systems for the entire stadium.
Maracanã’s Latest Renovation
The stadium’s original concrete roof was demolished and substituted with a fiberglass-tensioned membrane coated with Teflon. The new roof will cover 95% of the seats, unlike the former design, which protected some seats in the upper ring and seats in the bleachers above the gate access of each sector.
WSDG’s purview covered the sound system for all spaces, including the soccer field, audience, and internal spaces, such as VIP rooms, access, and offices; video systems, including two large LED video walls and more than 400 video displays all around the stadium; and audio- and video-control rooms.
The electro-acoustical design was done using simulation software. The biggest challenge encountered during the design phase was to define the final quantities and location of the PA cluster, to achieve the required speech-transmission index (STI) and sound-pressure level (SPL) coverage as required by FIFA, according to Renato Cipriano, partner/GM, WSDG/Brazil.
“We identified extensive sound reflections throughout the arena and concluded that acoustical absorption needed to be installed at the inner ring of the audience sector to achieve the required STI values, as given to us by FIFA,” Cipriano explains, indicating those values as .5 STI (STI values range from 0 to 1) at 110 dB peak SPL. “Speaker positioning was defined for the internal and external areas and for numerous zoning maps, which can now be individually controlled for increased flexibility and security purposes.”
The designers had originally specified Community Sound PA line-array components, but, in the bidding process for the actual AV-systems integration, an Electro-Voice PA line array was installed. Cipriano says the system meets all the criteria established by the design and modeling process.
Other challenges include having to play a game of chess with the changing architecture of the stadium, as its new roof rolled out. “The location of the clusters had to change to accommodate the catwalk for the roof, and, in turn, we had to think about how the position of the speakers affected the lighting,” he says. “We had to run and then rerun a lot of simulations.”
Systems for Mineirão
For the Mineirão Stadium, WSDG designed complete audio and video systems for the entire facility, including all public areas, covering a total of 3 million sq. ft. and encompassing acoustical treatments; a comprehensive sound system; video systems, including two 915-sq.-ft. LED video walls; and fully integrated audio- and video-control rooms. The main JBL PA system is installed in a point-source configuration.
“Our primary facility-management concerns focused on the level of sound comfort and intelligibility in relation to the RT60 reverberation time required to meet stipulated FIFA STI mandates,” Cipriano explains. (RT60 is the time required for reflections of a direct sound to decay 60 dB.)
“Our simulation programs enabled us to assess and ‘auralize’ the entire complex,” he continues. “We identified extensive sound reflections throughout the arena and concluded that acoustical absorption needed to be installed at the concrete inner ring of the audience sector to achieve the required STI values. Speaker positioning was defined for the internal and external areas and for numerous zoning maps, which can now be individually controlled for increased flexibility and security purposes. All specific audio and video systems and control-room speaker selections were designed to meet FIFA requirements. Additionally, we recommended incorporating a video wall instead of a traditional scoreboard.”
Brazil may have the most controversial sports-venue infrastructure in the world at the moment, but, when all is said and done, it will also likely have one of the best-sounding.