Nexo return match at Stade de France
Purpose-built for events as well as its primary sporting engagements, football and rugby, the Stade de France is an 80,000+ capacity venue. Its distinctive elliptical design, by architects Aymeric Zublena, Claude Constantini, Michel Macary and Michel Regembal, is distinguished by the immense floating roof, which never touches the stands, resting instead on 18 pillars. Another aspect of the stadium's design is the cushion of air that allows the lower stands to slide out in approximately 72 hours, depending on the different configurations needed, allowing the stadium to be reconfigured to house a running track for track and field events, or to be used for prestigious concerts and spectacles.
After 14 years of successful service from its Nexo Alpha sound system, the Stade de France required an equally forward-looking SR design. French event production company and installation specialist Melpomen was called in, to work alongside key component suppliers Nexo and AuviTran and the Stade de France sound department, led by Fabien Budnik.
Melpomen project manager Sylvain Brottes coordinated the design and installation of a 13-zone audio system, featuring nearly 300 Nexo Geo S12 loudspeaker cabinets, specially enhanced for this project, and nearly 30 RS18s, the first time Nexo has delivered these sub-bass units into a sports stadium install.
The sound system is split to cover the upper and lower parts of the stadium. Forty clusters of Nexo cabinets are flown from the roof for the stands: seven S12s are directed at the upper levels, while a separate array of six S12s faces directly down towards the lower levels. Another 32 cabinets of S12 are used for fill at ground level. RS18s are flown, 27 in total. "We can change any loudspeaker in any cabinet in 30 minutes, although the NXAMPs provide excellent protection," says Fabien Budnik.
The high level of diagnostic control is provided by 32 NXAMPs, tucked away in nine amplifier rooms in the stadium roof. These provide full diagnostic information to the control room, warning of a problem in a rack even if functionality is not actually affected. An additional eight NXAMPs are used to control a separate PA system for the stadium plaza, the open areas surrounding the stadium, which is equipped with Geo S8 compact line array modules.
The Stade de France system runs on a full EtherSound network. Such is the level of system control that any input can be sent to any output at the Stade; publicity announcements for the car parks, or a message to a specific area of the grandstand. The connectivity is via fibre optic cable, which runs from the 11x Yamaha SB168-ES stageboxes; ten kilometres have been installed in a ring architecture, which has itself saved a huge amount of cabling for the installation team.
"The main advantage is in flexibility, interoperability and monitoring with minimum latency," explains Jeremie Weber of AuviTran.