Carson City, CA––Delicate Productions of LA and San Francisco recently came up with an ingenious solution using Martin Audio speakers for the ESPN CrossFit Games at the StubHub Center, which includes covering three large spaces simultaneously with a careful balance of live audio for competitors, staff and spectators while maintaining compatibility with TV and Web broadcasts of the event.
The punishing culmination of a year’s worth of qualifying events, the CrossFit Games features a field of athletes culled from hundreds of thousands to 40 men and women competing to be called the “Fittest on Earth.” They participate in a series of events unknown to them until just before the competition, including ocean swims and paddles, sandbag carries, different weight lifts, pull ups, pushups, squats, mile runs and more.
All of this takes place at the StubHub Center, a 27,000-seat soccer stadium, 8,000-seat tennis stadium and track & field complex, which Delicate was tasked to reinforce with consistent and clear audio encompassing everything from the sounds of competition, signals from officials, announcer commentary, music and more.
“It was an undertaking,” says Delicate President Jason Alt with wry understatement. “We used Martin Audio MLA Compacts, W8LCs, W8LMs, WT2 speakers on sticks, pretty much everything we had in the warehouse. The biggest challenge was covering the soccer and tennis stadiums, track and field area, the athlete warm up and workout spaces, beer garden and sponsor areas with one linked audio system.
“The tennis stadium is a bowl below ground level,” he continues, “which we had to backfill with audio because we can’t put any speakers on the competition surface except for a few fills in the corners. So we rigged 30 MLA Compacts in five-high rows just below the LED screens pointed down at the audience. They were ideal because we were able to use the MLA’s ‘Hard Avoid’ feature to keep the audio from bleeding onto the actual competition space and minimize reflections so competitors could hear key triggers like starting buzzers and instructions from the officials.
“All that plus a DJ playing live tracks throughout the competition,” adds Jason, “which had to be balanced with the live mics used by announcers and the audio coming back in from television playback for the web and live ESPN broadcasts. So it became a really complicated audio production jumping back and forth between the competition spaces and additional areas while all these events were going on.”
Audio for the soccer stadium combined the house system in the upper balcony with groundfill using 16 carts of four stacked W8LM speakers in strategic locations on the sidelines to both direct the audio across the field for competitors and all around the stadium for the audience. Delicate also used additional WT2 speakers on sticks to fill in additional spaces.
“There was Martin Audio all over the place,” Jason explains. “We had a W8LM system for a warm-up area at the track and field facility where CrossFit describes what events the contestants will be participating in that day, along with demos of new products and workout ideas. For the beer garden, a popular hangout during the games, we rigged a big, old school rock and roll W8LC system next to the LED wall which worked out really well.”
Asked how everything worked out despite the challenges, he concludes, “It went great! This is the third year we’ve done CrossFit and the first year we had MLA Compact, which was ideal because it cleaned up the echoes in the tennis area and provided the perfect solution for that space. It sounded great and the client even commented on the improvement using MLA, they noticed the difference.
“CrossFit seemed really ecstatic about the audio and how everything sounded. We do a lot of their regional events leading up to the Games with W8LCs and W8LMs. They’re not only happy with Delicate, but they really love Martin Audio speakers.”
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About Martin Audio®
Founded by audio engineer David Martin in 1971, Martin Audio pioneered the use of all-horn-loaded bass designs in world-class touring loudspeaker systems for groups such as Pink Floyd, ELP and Supertramp. Located outside of London, Martin Audio now embodies a sophisticated mix of acoustic design, research, mathematical modeling and software engineering for a wide range of products in the installation, cinema and touring sound markets.