European Olympic Games, Baku
Superb Sound System Performance at the European Olympic Games
Organized by the European Olympic Committee, the first-ever European Olympic Games were held in Baku’s Azerbaijani capital. The event’s spectacular opening and closing ceremonies captured the host country’s rich culture, with international acts such as Clean Bandit and John Newman performing at the game’s opening and closing ceremonies. Auditoria’s own Scott Willsallen, who is no stranger to tailormade sound systems for the Olympic Games, was tasked with designing both the live and audio broadcast systems for Baku’s brand new, 65,000-capacity Olympic Stadium, where the ceremonies took place.
Italian rental company Agora supplied equipment, with Scott designing a system similar to the one he designed for the Sochi Winter Olympics. However, the challenge to this project, unlike Sochi, was that there were roof structure limitations.
“Generally, we have to sit the PA between the front row of the audience and the edge of the performance area, so there isn’t much opportunity to hang anything. This means there’s always a restriction on how tall the loudspeaker stacks can be,” noted Scott Willsallen. The team also needed to cover up to 63m from the PA to the audience’s back row, which was a long-distance for a ground stack. Another challenge was that both the stadium and broadcast audiences enjoy a high-quality soundtrack to the ceremonies while creating the right broadcast atmosphere. Since the events are primarily geared toward people watching the games at home on their televisions, the audience in the background of most camera shots needed to be more engaged and enthusiastic to make it more interesting for the viewers at home.
K2 ended up being the preferred system for the European Games because it allowed for consistent horizontal pattern control, and the form factor of the cabinets also suited the arrangement. The main system comprised 24 ground stacks of K2 distributed around an oval layout, arranged in an alternating left/right configuration, which allowed for a bit of space in the mix. Twelve stacks of seven K2 each covered the stadium’s east and west sides, and 12 more of six K2 each covered the north and south ends, where there was slightly less vertical coverage requirement. Each stack had three L‑Acoustics SB28 subs on each side, while delays of K2 and K1-SB covered the upper tier on the east and west sides. 8XTs and 12XTs were used for localized fills, with the entire system driven by a total of 210 LA8 amplifiers. Monitoring for the cast was principally in-ear, with the addition of L‑Acoustics 12XTs and 115HiQs for coverage of the mass movement areas.
With the ground-stacked arrays being the primary sound source for so much of the audience, the benefits of localizing the sound to the action were evident. The team was impressed with the sound, and the Opening Ceremony was honored with a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding live and direct-to-tape sound mixing.
The stadium system performed superbly and exactly as our L‑Acoustics Soundvision modeling process predicted.
Director, Auditoria Pty Ltd