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Meyer Sound System Fills Home Depot Center Inside Not Out
The robust, 43-loudspeaker Meyer Sound system at the Home Depot Center stadium — the new home of the Los Angeles Galaxy pro soccer team — has ample power for keeping fans in all 27,000 seats informed and energized with crisp, high-impact sound. At the same time, the system was carefully designed to minimize potentially annoying audio spill into nearby residential neighborhoods.
The new soccer stadium is the centerpiece of a $150 million multi-sport development financed by AEG (Anschutz Entertainment Group). In a unique public-private partnership, the complex is located on the campus of California State University Dominguez Hills, about 15 miles from downtown Los Angeles.
Overall responsibility for design and installation of all low voltage systems (audio, video and security) at Home Depot Center was assigned to IPR Services of nearby Hacienda Heights. The contract was awarded based largely on IPR's earlier work at other AEG properties, most notably the Staples Center and Kodak Theatre. For the main PA system in the stadium, IPR principal Bob Patrick specified a selection of self-powered loudspeakers from Meyer Sound.
"The Meyer Sound loudspeakers were a natural choice for a number of reasons," he explains. "First, we had used Meyer products exclusively at the Kodak Theatre, so key people at AEG were already familiar with the sound quality. Also, because the loudspeakers have the amplifiers inside, we did not need a massive amount of extra conduit or cabling, nor did we need extra space for air-conditioned amplifier rooms. That kept overall costs down."
In approaching the stadium design, Patrick confronted several difficulties. His most daunting task was to reproduce clear, highly intelligible voice announcements and wide-bandwidth music at levels up to 102 dB, while at the same time limiting off-site bleed to no more than 10 dB above ambient noise in the adjacent residential neighborhoods. Further complicating matters was the last-minute addition of a thick, taut Teflon canopy that was highly reflective at certain frequencies and had a tendency to "duct" the sound out the open end – and toward the sensitive neighborhoods.
To assist him in overcoming these problems, Patrick enlisted the services of noted acoustical designer Chips Davis. Together they devised a basic design employing 33 CQ-1 full-range wide-coverage loudspeakers and 10 MSL-4 horn-loaded long-throw cabinets. Todd Meier of Meyer Sound Design Services provided invaluable assistance in modeling proposed system variations using the MAPP Online acoustical prediction software. In the final system configuration, the CQ-1 loudspeakers were deployed in a distributed system to cover all seats underneath the canopies; cabinets were hung in pairs to cover those sections with two tiers of seating, and singly in sections with private suites in the back. In both cases, the precise CQ-1 coverage patterns allowed Davis to maintain uniform, high level coverage while limiting problematic reflections off both canopies and suite fronts.
The uncovered end section seating presented another set of difficulties. In this case, there were no reflections to deal with, but there was also no place to hang the loudspeakers. Poles in front would be unsightly, while putting the loudspeakers behind the seats would be distracting to both fans and players on the field.
The solution in this case was careful placement and aiming of MSL-4 long-throw cabinets mounted at the end corners of the canopies: six at the open berm end and four at the end backed by the restaurant structure. The coverage patterns were carefully adjusted to maintain even coverage at distances up to 175 feet, while at the same time preventing opposite-side echo effects and limiting spill outside the stadium.
Despite a compressed time schedule caused by the mid-stream addition of canopies, the new system was installed and fully operational well in advance of the Galaxy's first home match in early June. And, according to Bob Patrick, the response to the stadium's sound has been uniformly positive.
"The system is very good in terms of coverage and intelligibility," he says. "I've walked around during several games and it is remarkably well balanced for an outdoor stadium covering such a large area."
Acoustician Chips Davis, who was responsible for exact loudspeaker system configuration as well as final system tuning, was similarly pleased with the outcome – particularly considering the conflicting demands set upon it. "The system worked out great and the intelligibility is excellent," he says. "It has plenty of headroom if you need it to really stir up the crowd, but you have to be careful or sooner or later some neighbors will be upset."
The Home Depot Center represents the most ambitious public-private partnership ever undertaken in the development of sports facilities. The project was fully funded by AEG, with the land provided by the California State University system under a $1 per year lease agreement. In return, the University receives a portion of gate receipts as well as extensive use of the facilities. In addition to the main stadium, the complex also includes an 8,000-seat tennis stadium as well as world-class facilities for cycling, boxing, beach volleyball, and track and field events.