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Red Bull Arena’s Audio Kicks

New Jersey's 25,000-seat Red Bull Arena recently updated its audio system with a new L-Acoustics A Series loudspeaker system.

Diversified designed and installed the new L-Acoustics PA system at Red Bull Arena.
Diversified designed and installed the new L-Acoustics PA system at Red Bull Arena.

Harrison, NJ (April 14, 2022)—The 25,000-seat Red Bull Arena—home to the Major League Soccer (MLS) New York Red Bulls and the NJ/NY Gotham FC of the National Women’s Soccer League—recently updated its audio system with a new L-Acoustics A Series loudspeaker system

Comprised of A15i enclosures paired with SB18 IIi subs, the system was designed and installed by Diversified. The A Series loudspeakers replaced the distributed sound system installed around the venue’s catwalks when it first opened. “At the time, when soccer was really establishing itself in the US as a professional-league sport, the sound systems tended to be designed with value in mind,” explains Justo Gutierrez, Diversified director of AV & Sound, Sports and Live Events, “and typically, you didn’t need much for a PA system for a soccer pitch; the game is continuous, and the PA was used mainly for pre-and post-game and halftime announcements. Now the sport has progressed and now requires sound that can support a lot more, including music.”

The new system sports a design based around symmetrical arrays of A Series enclosures, each backed by SB18 IIi subwoofers, as well as two corner-fill arrays using A15i Focus. The design creates sonic overlaps between seating sections.

The arena’s roof—the largest canopy of all MLS stadiums at 322,276 square feet—extends 120 feet from the last row of seats to just past the field’s touchlines, with 60 feet of the roof being translucent to allow for natural light to cover all the seats. Despite the low roof design, known for amplifying and reflecting crowd noise back onto the field, it doesn’t interact with the new sound system.

“The new speakers are positioned equidistant between the upper and lower seating tiers and are firing at the best angle and away from the roof, minimizing any reflections,” says Gutierrez, who worked closely with Red Bull Arena director of Construction John Amorosa at the time the system was installed. The new system—which utilizes the previous system’s cabling infrastructure—is designed specifically for speech intelligibility and music impact.

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L-Acoustics worked closely with Diversified and the Red Bull Arena project team, spearheaded by Amorosa and AV Engineer John Nicklas, on the system design beginning in 2018. They stayed in touch as the pandemic shuttered all sports activity for much of 2020, continuing to refine the design. “The Covid lockdown delayed the project significantly, but the Red Bulls team was fully committed to keeping the project on track and on budget, despite a huge financial deficit incurred by MLS during the pandemic,” says Dan Palmer, L-Acoustics Business Development Manager, Sports Facilities – USA and Canada.

The newly-installed system is primarily configured with 96 A15i Focus and one dozen A15i Wide enclosures for additional vertical coverage where needed. The design called for four arrays of seven A15i for the North, South, and East zones and four arrays of six A15i for the West zone, each paired with an array of three SB18 IIi for additional LF impact. Two small corner-fill arrays of two A15i Focus each are used in the NW and SW corners to complete the bowl system and ensure full coverage and even SPL distribution over the audience listening areas.

The system is controlled and powered by 15 amplified controllers—14 LA12X and one LA4X—and is flown from the venue’s steel canopy structures and rigged under a tension-fabric curved exterior shell of PTFE fiberglass wraps, utilizing a custom rigging design created by the Diversified team. The pairing of A15i and SB18 IIi provides a balance of full-range, high-impact performance. A15i extends down to 41Hz and is aligned with SB18 IIi, extending the LF response to 32 Hz.

The new L-Acoustics A15i sound system is part of a wider sound upgrade that also included the installation of a DiGiCo Quantum225 mixing console and new Dante-native DQ-Rack for front of house.