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EAW® AX And MK Series Speakers Give Red Bull Stadium P.A. System Wings!

EAW® AX and MK Series are the perfect combination for a challenging 360-degree canopy design

New York’s Major League Soccer team, the New York Red Bulls, finally have a place to call home. The new Red Bull Arena, in Harrison, New Jersey, was completed on March 20, 2010, and features outstanding sound, thanks to EAW®, a world leader in audio system solutions.

The arena features a European design, with a canopy that encircles the entire two-tiered seating area. The first row seats are approximately 21 feet from the touchlines, while the following rows are steeply raked, creating an intimate experience for fans that are closer to the playing field than in traditional U.S. soccer stadiums.

“This is the only soccer stadium of its kind in the United States,� states Brian Elwell, Project Manager for Acoustic Dimensions.

A catwalk that follows the path of the canopy made access to the hang points easier, but the proximity of the canopy to the seats created coverage challenges for the P.A. system design. The closer speakers were located to seating areas, the less dispersion that each speaker could deliver. At the same time, however, simply adding boxes to expand the density of coverage would not have been cost effective. The solution was a combination of boxes from EAW’s AX and MK Series of products.

Utilizing the canopy, P.A. system designer Acoustic Dimensions specified a system of alternating hang points along the perimeter of the 1,400+-linear-foot-long canopy. Each main hang point features an EAW AX364-WP Arrayable Install Loudspeaker (aimed for long-throw use), an EAW MK2399-WP Two-Way Full Range Installation Loudspeaker (rear firing) and an EAW MK2394-WP Two-Way Full Range Installation Loudspeaker (down firing). These main clusters alternate with intermediate hangs consisting of an additional MK2399-WP (rear firing) and an MK2394-WP (down firing). EAW AX396-WP Arrayable Install Loudspeaker units were used along the 350 feet of canopy over the west press box side of the arena. A total of 24 AX Series speakers and 82 MK Series speakers were used.

“In terms of the amount of output versus the cost per box, EAW was by far the best choice,� says Elwell. “Their coverage pattern met all of our needs and from a cost point of view they are the most efficient available. We’ve been extremely pleased with the overall coverage we’ve gotten with this P.A. system – it gives us great sound at every single seat.�

Casey Sherred, consultant with Acoustic Dimensions on the project, cites the AX Series cabinets’ full-range design as another crucial reason for their choice. “We didn’t have to do a crossover in DSP because the cabinet sounds great on its own,� he explains. “Then you add the EAW Focusing alignment and driver processing via the EAW UX8800 dual-mode digital processor, which further enhances the performance of the cabinet, and that makes the system really shine,� he adds. “We get great performance out of a very cost-effective solution without having to spend additional money on DSP crossover amplification. That’s really incredible.�

Perhaps incidentally, the Red Bulls won their very first exhibition game in their new home, and won their first regular-season game with a 1-0 victory over the Chicago Fire on March 27. The sound certainly didn’t hurt.

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