Ohio State Stadium Is First Outing for New Meyer Sound System
Ohio State University’s Ohio Stadium is the Joan Rivers of sports venues: it has been around forever and has had nearly constant updating of its physical plant. The horseshoe-shaped stadium, built in 1922 and home to OSU’s Buckeyes, was once the largest concrete venue on earth and today still ranks as the fourth-largest on-campus facility in the nation, with seating for 102,329 fans.
The venue’s sheer size and its bowl shape have challenged sound-system designers over the years. It’s architecturally unsuited for a distributed system, the approach many newer stadiums have adopted to deliver audio evenly throughout the venue. Thus, it has to rely on the point-source approach, with the sound system attached near the massive scoreboard.
But, for the audio-system upgrade that took place just before the start of this year’s college football season, the first in a dozen years, OSU opted for Meyer Sound’s new LEO line-array system. This first fixed installation of the system demonstrates the LEO’s stated mission to “faithfully reproduce every sonic element, only louder, without any change in tonality.”
Purposely understating it, Sean Miller, technical operations manager for Pro Sound & Video, which integrated the project, says simply, “It’s loud.”
It should be: the two main array hangs consist of 18 LEO enclosures per side, as well as five 1100-LFC subwoofers per side. Seventy-nine under-balcony speakers handle local-fill duties. The system is rounded out with a combination of SB-1 and SB-3 Sound Beam parabolic audio-projection systems, designed to propagate sound waves that decrease as little as 3 dB of SPL per doubling of distance for more than 300 ft., across a five-octave frequency range, with a consistent and narrow beam width.
“The challenge for a venue this size has always been delivering coherent sound over a long distance,” Miller explains. “Part of that challenge here is that you can’t put in delay towers like you would in a concert situation. You have to rely on pure power.”
He says that the LEO system delivers that, along with good directivity, allowing the sound to be kept away from vertical reflective surfaces and keeping it focused on the field and seating areas. According to Miller, the way the LEO is designed, with all the amplification and processing integrated into each enclosure, improves efficiency in the form of greater throw and accuracy. Meyer’s Galileo DSP system provides EQ shaping on the 1100-LFC subwoofers, keeping the low frequencies, the least directional of the entire spectrum, optimized for the on-field focus strategy.
Miller adds that the LEO is the latest in what has been a trend toward more-powerful stadium sound systems that are giving the point-source approach to large-scale sports-venue sound some renewed vigor.
“I prefer placing the sound source in the end zone,” he says. “It’s inferior, compared to a distributed system, in terms of delivering the sound over distance evenly. But the fact is, it’s far more exciting to have this very large system in a stadium. Fans react to the sound from a point-source system like this more so than from a distributed one, which can sound clear but tame. Combined with the kind of directional control you get with a line array, this is a great way to experience a college football game.”