Earlier this year, one of the world's biggest cycle races, the Santos Tour Down Under, joined an ever-widening and eclectic range of events, exhibitions, and installations that have turned to the L-Acoustics Syva colinear system to provide unobtrusive, high quality sound reinforcement for critical public performance.
Syva has been a core component at venues as diverse as the historic lecture theatres at the University of Bologna and the Sorbonne Grand Amphitheatre; the Louis Vuitton Paris Fashion Week show at the Louvre, the Mountain Christian mega-church in Maryland, and at L-ISA Immersive Hyperreal Sound performances by alt-J at the Royal Albert Hall in London and Forest Hills Stadium in New York.
Syva’s latest high-energy Australian adventure adds another spoke to a very big wheel.
The Santos Tour Down Under is an important fixture in the UCI World Tour, which also includes the Tour de France, and the Giro d'Italia. The race had been held in Adelaide every year for the past two decades, was the first race outside Europe to receive prestigious UCI WorldTour status, thereby guaranteeing attendance by the world’s elite cycling teams, and has reportedly attracted crowds of over 780,000 spectators.
Novatech Creative Event Technology was the technical provider for the event's PA and video screen infrastructure. As part of this, it took on the challenge of designing a PA system that could provide full-range, high quality sound from trackside along the race-stage start and finish sections, as well as at selected circuits. Same-day set-up and strike times, and minimal obstruction of the on-track action added to the list of imperatives.
Novatech opted to deploy L-Acoustics Syva every 30 to 50 metres along the track, using custom-designed, self-erecting stands, and with audio distribution via an AVB-based fibre network.
"Not only would this supply high quality, full-range audio to the crowd, we’d be able to set-up and strike on race-day instead of having to run cabling and horns two weeks beforehand,” recalls Ashley Gabriel, Director of Sales and Marketing at Novatech. “Also, with no ladders or working at heights for our crew, it’s a huge safety improvement on previous work practices.”
One possible concern was using Syva outside in the dusty, hot environment of a South Australian summer, while also considering the possibility of rain. Syva already has an International Protection (IP) rating of 54, though working in conjunction with L-Acoustics and its Australian distributor Jands, Novatech sourced a custom bracket that provided additional protection. Despite 40+ degree heat with no extra cooling, the event's Syva and Kara podium PA performed flawlessly with no extra cooling.
Novatech’s crew divided into Start and Finish teams that set up the Syva towers and signal distribution around the sites. All audio signal was carried via AVB over an Ethernet network, routed through the new L-Acoustics P1 AVB audio processors, while video was carried to large LED screens via Riedel’s MediorNet. Using a fibre-based network enabled signal distribution over several kilometres. Gabriel elaborates, "As each Syva is fed by its own dedicated LA4X amp channel, we used LA Network Manager via a large wireless network to time-align each output using a wireless tablet, meaning you don’t get the delay you do with horns, which just added to the intelligibility and clarity of the system. The longest circuit we covered was the opening 1.7 km stage around Adelaide’s Rymill Park, where we used Syva on all four straights and L-Acoustics Kara as infills, powered by a combination of LA4X and LA12X amplified controllers."
Syva is a colinear system designed for minimal physical impact, but with a high fidelity, high SPL output. Each cabinet uses six mid- and three high-frequency drivers loaded by DOSC waveguides for wide horizontal coverage and extended throw. "The wide dispersion pattern means one speaker can cover both sides of the street," notes Gabriel. "And the high output can throw 50 metres comfortably, and up to 75 metres with no wind… And the bottom end was amazing - you should have seen the race official's and commentator's faces when we first turned them on!" For the Tour’s system, only the main Syva units were used, though they can be complimented by the optional Syva Low and Syva Sub units for response extension down to 40Hz and 27Hz, respectively.
This year, the Tour Down Under women’s event was won by Amanda Spratt for the third year running and the men's event was won by Daryl Impey for the second year in a row. Both riders were with the exceptional Mitchelton-SCOTT GreenEDGE Cycling team.
"This is a busy, exciting event," concludes Gabriel, "We used every ounce of intelligibility and fidelity that Syva had to offer, so the crowds could get caught up in every moment and feel the riders' adrenaline as they crossed the line. It needed to be so good that the technology was invisible. And it was... It was all about the race."