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Valencia, Spain – July 2011… For the fourth year running the motor world’s biggest spectacular came to Valencia at the end of June: the 2011 Formula One European Gran Prix. This year, D.A.S. Audio was proud to participate in the whirlwind and exciting environment that surrounds this international event; hand-in-hand with Sagarmanta Producciones, D.A.S. systems were responsible for providing sound coverage for the entire grandstand area.

Given the immense popularity of Formula One racing more than 150,000 spectators descended upon the Valencia Street Circuit between the pre-event training, the classification round and the race itself, making for an intense weekend. The grandstand was the scene of a great influx of people, with some 85,000 spectators attending on race day. The weather cooperated with the festivities, and attendees enjoyed a typically Mediterranean sunny day at the track, ideally located adjacent to Valencia’s waterfront.

The project was spearheaded by the Valencia-based company Sagarmanta Producciones, with Vicent Olucha at the helm. In terms of the audio aspects of the circuit, an impressive deployment of resources was required to carry out a project of this magnitude. To do so, the company assembled a team consisting of more than 30 people to set up technical sound coverage for the 14 grandstands around the circuit through a fibre optics and CobraNet® -based audio distribution system. The team also installed an individual automatic signal system for each of the grandstands to be used in the case of evacuations, as well as the technical coverage required for providing sound for the podium and award presentation areas.

The challenges of providing the sound for an event of this scale are obvious, given that this venue is more than 5,000 metres long. Simply properly distributing and installing the acoustic cabinets throughout the mentioned grandstands in a venue of this size is an awesome task. Setting up the electrical supply and distribution of the sound signal to the more than 115 cabinets supplied by D.A.S. Audio for this event, as well as the management of this signal, was another massive undertaking.

In a testament to this product’s consistently excellent performance, all of the cabinets utilized throughout the sound installation were D.A.S Aero 12A self-powered line array systems. These systems, part of the successful D.A.S. Aero Series 2, overcame the various challenges created by the different grandstand configurations and their locations. Some of the stands were completely straight, others were curved, some had 20 rows of seats, others had more than 40; the central forum was covered, the rest of the area wasn´t; in other words there was truly a whole range of different configurations. The solution: D.A.S Aero 12A self-powered line array systems came to the rescue, and this one single versatile system successfully rose to the challenge presented by each location’s different physical conditions.

The first physical inconvenience was the impossibility of situating the systems above the protection wall that surrounds the track, since the existing security regulations in motor competitions prevent placing solid elements above said wall. To overcome this obstacle, especially in the higher stands, the work-around technicians adopted was to play with the angle of the systems according to their locations relative to the zone of influence of each.

The units were placed on truss-type structured podiums, whose angles could be adjusted through the arrangement of two vertical threaded shafts. This made it possible to place the systems with different angles of inclination according to the needs of each location, and this was the determining factor in giving coverage to the upper areas, especially in the highest stands which, as mentioned previously, had more than 40 rows of seats. The more than 115 total units placed throughout the entire circuit were distributed with an average distance of 8-10 metres between each. There were also 15 extra or backup units on hand in case of any incident, which fortunately weren´t needed during this event.

With regard to the indispensable electrical feed, because the D.A.S Aero 12A systems are self-powered, each one of the different stands had a single phase 16A / 20A connection, from which the feed was distributed to all the subsequent systems spread out through the mentioned areas.

Another technical aspect worth mentioning in this installation in terms of sound was an adjustment in the high frequency band of the systems. A -6 dB was preset on the 2.7 kHz band with the aim of achieving a flat response from each one of the elements starting from the mentioned range. Doing so allowed a more uniform sound delivery of the systems individually, since these are line array systems that were designed specifically to be used in linear formations usually of 6 or 8 units together.

Another key feature of the installation, due to its unique characteristics, was the method for sending and distributing the signal to each one of the systems spread throughout the circuit—a fibre optic line more than 2,000 metres was utilized. This network had its focal point in a control centre located in the pit stop area, from which 16 different emissions were carried out through CobraNet® towards the different grandstand and award presentation areas.

The entire audio signal needed to be independent for each area, and a fibre optic ring that linked a series of nodes, which in turn formed a star with different link points. Through the establishment of a local Vlan network, the different bundles were launched via CobraNet®, which were located by the receptors in each one of the stands identified, reproducing the signal and emitting it to each and every one of the systems located throughout them.

The result was a uniform signal management that minimized the delay effects between adjacent stands, as well as possible synchronization problems among the most remote areas. Without a doubt a logistical challenge that allowed the spectators to enjoy the comments during the different training and race days, as well as ambient music during wait times, which can stretch on considerably on competition days.

Finally, we would be remiss not to mention the great effort on the part of D.A.S. Audio in supplying such a vast quantity of acoustic cabinets, and of course Sagarmanta Producciones in the enormous task of distributing and operating the systems in a venue with such unique characteristics. The challenge was, undoubtedly, met with creative solutions and successfully overcome, and the experience paved the way for future F1 European Gran Prix events at the Valencia Street Circuit.