SVG Sit-Down: Diversified’s Justo Gutierrez Explores the Evolution of Sound for Sports Venues

Stadiums and arenas are moving beyond PA to high-performance systems

Until virtuality completely overtakes reality, sports will always need a place to play. Those places — the stadiums and arenas — will continue to evolve along with the sports they host. (Pitch clocks, anyone?) In addition, venues have significantly improved sound quality in recent years, in part to accommodate more kinds of events, such as music concerts, and reproduce LFE more effectively. AV systems integrators like Diversified make the magic for that to happen, finding ways to make scoreboards bigger and PA systems louder. Sitting down with SVG, Diversified Director, Engineering for Sports, Faith, and Performance, Justo Gutierrez talks about a future that will emphasize features like immersiveness and more infrastructure.

Diversified’s Justo Gutierrez: “Immersive technology invites new possibilities, like directing the apparent sound source toward particular screens.”

What challenges are the next generation of venue sound systems going to face? Noise abatement and control, etc.? And do sound-system designs have to change to address that, such as with more-flexible speaker placements?
The next generation of venue sound systems will trend toward immersive solutions that focus on sound-object positioning, room-acoustics emulation, or both, depending on the application. The biggest challenges come with the additional infrastructure required to support it, namely more loudspeakers and/or additional cabling to support the granular control needed to make immersive systems work. That said, as loudspeaker technology improves, hyper-focused control of sound may create opportunities for more-efficient loudspeaker topologies.

Ballparks seem to have been laggards when it comes to LFE; on the other hand, they’ve developed interesting subspecialties, such as small sound systems dedicated to walk-up music. How are baseball stadiums, such as San Francisco’s Oracle Park, which Diversified recently worked on, changing their sound?
Many teams have provided dedicated sound systems that cover the batter’s box to home plate for walk-up music or the pitcher’s mound for warm-up. Within the last few years, baseball parks have started to add subs for low-frequency impact, and Oracle Park is the most recent example of that. Diversified took a consultative, analytics-based approach as it worked to lay out the mission, detail the operational goals, identify technical challenges, leverage as much of the existing infrastructure as it could, and issue a request-for-proposal seeking vendors that could solve the project’s unique challenges. The local Diversified team used its network to identify the best contractors in the area and achieve results three months ahead of schedule. The Giants upgraded all public-area sound systems as well as the exclusive Gotham Club, executive meeting rooms, and various other private spaces, enhancing the acoustic experience throughout Oracle Park.

To what extent are sound systems and visual media in venues, such as large-scale displays and ribbon boards, interacting?
Currently, sound systems work in tandem with visual media for the overall game presentation. Immersive technology invites new possibilities, like, for example, directing the apparent sound source toward particular screens or areas of the venue.

What has surprised you most about sports-venue sound? What do you hope happens in this vertical?
It has been fun to watch the evolution of sound in sports venues move from simply “public address” to high-performance systems. As a technology-solutions provider, we look forward to working with audio manufacturers to continue to innovate and stretch the boundaries of sound-system technology, further enhancing the in-venue fan experience.

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