Go For the Football, Stay For the Music

By Dan Daley

The Rolling Stones will feel as welcome in the Cowboys’ new arena as the Dallas football team itself, thanks to a concert touring-class sound system that will hang in tandem with a massive four-sided HD video display. An Electro-Voice line-array system will fill the 70,000-seat stadium when it opens next June, and a concert is planned as the facility’s maiden voyage to underscore the concert-class sound.

The center-hung screen array” two longitudinal screens measuring 71 x 159 feet across and a pair of 50- x 28-foot-wide displays pointed toward the end zones (the largest screen array ever constructed by Mitsubishi)” made positioning the sound system a challenge, according to Dwin Towell, the Cowboys’ director of broadcast services.

Four main large line arrays are suspended from the ceiling above the video displays and cover 80 percent of the 2.7 million-square-foot space. An additional six smaller line arrays are positioned beneath the displays to address another unique feature of the stadium: 45 field-level suites. “The sound system is completely capable of handling [all of the game day production needs],” says Towell. “It’s the same type of rig that concert acts would bring in and fly themselves.”

Sound-system speaker management and processing are done through BSS London Soundweb systems, using hybrid components to be compatible with the E-V amplifiers the system uses. All in-house audio distribution within the video control is via AES. “All the video distribution in the building is HD, from the center-hung displays to the 2,500 smaller video monitors around the stadium, using an IPTV system,” says Towell. “So we wanted the audio to be digital right up until it reaches the decoders.”

The main control room handles on-screen video replays and will send natural and PA sound to the dock area, where it’s fed to the OB trucks. Systems integrator Promedia ran extensive fiber-optic cabling throughout, along with triaxial video cabling. There will be a provision for mixing front-of-house sound in the stadium; the console is still to be determined, but he notes that it will have 5.1 capability “as a hedge on the future” like the fiber-optic cabling, Towell says. Two auxiliary control rooms feed audio to interior club spaces, as well as to two plaza areas at either end of the stadium that form aprons for the huge sliding glass doors designed by architect HKS.

The building’s variable geometry also made acoustical management challenging, Towell says. WJHW is handling acoustics and using EASE software to analyze the room. E-V speakers will be attached to lighting poles, four per side, on the plazas.

The as yet unnamed stadium seems to be striving for Texas-large in every aspect. Says Towell proudly, “It could be the best-sounding stadium in the NFL, too.”

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