Nexo Debuts At The French Open

The Stade de Roland Garros, the event grounds for the annual French Open tennis tournament, has recently implemented a major PA and digital audio network upgrade on its centre court. The world-famous arena has installed a NEXO GEO D line array system, complemented by compact full-range PS8 cabinets under the rafters, and powered by NXAMPs via an EtherSound digital audio network.

Located in the 16th arrondissement of Paris, the Stade de Roland Garros is named after a French fighter aircraft pilot from World War I, who was famous for being the first to fly an airplane over the Mediterranean Sea in 1913. The current stadium grounds are home to twenty courts that include the Court Philippe Chatrier and the Court Suzanne Lenglen, and the Tenniseum, a museum of tennis.

Court Philippe Chatrier is the main court at the Stade Roland Garros. Built in 1928, it can hold 14,840 spectators. It is named after Philippe Chatrier, who was head of the French Tennis Federation and helped bring back tennis to the Summer Olympics in 1988. Today these grounds are known for hosting one of the four major grand slam titles of the APT tour and for being the home base for the French Tennis Federation.

Over the years, there have been a number of high-end sound reinforcement systems installed on the show courts. However, the lack of directivity of these systems put pressure on the French Tennis Federation in terms of match scheduling during the French Open tournament. When one of major courts was in use, unacceptable levels of sound pollution would spill onto the other courts, where they were trying to play their own matches. On top of this, the tennis grounds are located in a residential area, so the Federation had to field continuous complaints from the local residents.

To solve these primary problems, the French Tennis Federation called upon acoustic consultant Eric Grandmougin, from Grandmougin Consultants, to explore the possibilities of a new sound reinforcement solution, that would provide equal sound coverage for all the spectators, allow for matches to be played on the centre court at the same time as matches on the other courts, and greatly to limit complaints from the area’s residents.

Working in coordination with Tech Audio, the long-time installer and operator of all audio and video operations in the Stade de Roland Garros, a number of major loudspeaker manufacturers were invited to demonstrate their potential solutions.

With the primary sound reinforcement solution limited to being located on the scorers table that is located at the top of the centre tennis ground, a 40 ton crane was brought on site so that every competing speaker manufacturer could present its system from an equal point. During the demos of the systems twenty two measuring points were installed throughout the court grounds. Eleven were placed within the court to measure the coverage provided to the spectators and a further eleven measuring points were located outside of tennis court to measure any sound propogation outside that could eventually limit the simultaneously use of the other courts during tournaments and also to measure any potential sound pollution for the residents of the area.

After two stages of demonstrations, a NEXO GEO D-based system was chosen for its ability to provide equal coverage across all the seats of the centre court, but also because it offers a cardioid solution from 20Hz-20kHz, greatly limiting the amount of sound being propagated into the residential area. In a hang of eight GEO D10 modules, the top cabinets were configured to 80 degrees and the bottom four cabinets to 120 degrees.

One of the other persuasive factors about the NEXO solution was its ability to provide complete digital audio network solutions via the NX TDcontrollers. For this installation, NEXO’s new NXAMPs 4x4s and 4x1s were installed to drive the GEO Ds and the PS8s throughout the stadium. Tech Audio was especially convinced of the merits of installing a digital audio network, as they felt it would interface much better with their fully digital video installation throughout the grounds. Using the digital audio network via Ethersound enabled Tech Audio to have instant status reports on how the speaker cabinets and amplifiers were behaving.

The results of this installation have been seen and heard by a global audience, being used for the first time at this year’s French Open tournament. As planned, the French Tennis Federation was able to organize more matches on all courts on the same day, and provide smooth even sound coverage throughout the centre court. Tech Audio stated they didn't need to drive the system as hard during the matches, and, confirming this point, there were no complaints from the residential neighbours when the centre court was in action.

The French Tennis Federation is looking forward to applying this type of sound reinforcement and networking technology to all the other courts of the Roland Garros tennis grounds in the near future.

 

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