Opened in December 2017, Paris La Défense Arena in Paris, France, is a 40,000-capacity indoor arena that hosts various types of events, including concerts and rugby matches.
The multi-use venue required a unified audio system that would sound great for live performance, offer intelligibility for the spoken word, and could be relied upon in an emergency. The system needed to adhere, without compromise, to EN 54 European life safety product standards, which dictate the performance criteria for a life safety audio system to be used in the event of a fire.
The audio designer on this project wanted to see if it was possible to produce a streamlined system, rather than installing two separate audio systems to ensure both EN 54 compliance and exacting audio performance requirements.
“When I first looked at designing the project at the arena, I wanted to find a way to set up one audio system that would work for both the comfort system and the security and safety system,” said Laurent Delenclos, technical director at Freevox, the firm that provided the design and integration at Paris La Défense Arena. “Everyone told me that was impossible. But then I found ASL and the solution it offered with integrated Dante, and I realised that yes, this setup could work, and it could work well.”
“ASL’s EN 54 solution performs on all fronts,” said Henry Rawlins, application manager at ASL. “ASL’s Vipedia audio controller with powerful 32-bit internal processing and a full frequency response, combined with ASL’s V2000 amplification, provides the required signal-to-noise ratio, low distortion and high power required to drive the bowl speakers. All of which is complemented by the Dante Brooklyn II module, allowing us to deliver the entertainment element as a ‘layer’ of functionality above and beyond the core EN 54 capabilities. This approach offers both the flexibility demanded by such a venue, and the peace of mind that the emergency functions of the system are not accessible over the open Dante network.”
Audinate’s Dante is used for digital audio networking, distributing hundreds of uncompressed, multichannel digital audio channels via standard Ethernet networks. Dante allows audio, control and all other data to coexist effectively on the same network. ASL utilises this to ensure minimal audio latency between nodes and loudspeaker stacks and allow for connection with Dante-enabled solutions located front of house.
“By merging the comfort system and the emergency system you immediately see a lot of other benefits, including substantial reductions in both upfront delivery, installation and ongoing whole life costs,” said Rawlins.
The distributed audio system at the La Défense Arena consists of five audio nodes, each with a Dante-enabled ASL Vipedia-12-Pro audio controller providing the required audio quality DSP, audio routing and monitoring for the more than 60 separate PA zones.
The Vipedia controllers are networked together using both ASL’s EN 54-compliant SecureLoop IP technology and with Dante. This provides EN 54 networking with time-synchronised comfort audio and a connection to front-of-house devices and non-emergency active subs.
Connected to the Vipedia audio controllers are a number of ASL EMS emergency microphones and 22 ASL V2000 amplifier mainframes, housing more than 100 hot-swappable ASL D500 amplifier modules. The amplifiers drive both the point-array loudspeakers in the arena bowl and back-of-house 100V ceiling loudspeakers. All the speakers are certified to EN 54-24.
“The end result is a powerful hybrid of EN 54 and Dante for a multi-user, cross-platform solution that removes the boundaries between what have previously been two separate systems, without compromising on either performance or safety,” said Rawlins.
“The audio is clear anywhere you are located in the arena,” said Delenclos. “With Dante we see minimal latency across the arena, and it also works with third-party Dante-enabled equipment, while ASL ensures everything remains EN 54 compliant. Due to the huge success at this site, this solution has now been modelled out at a number of sites and we hope that we have changed the way people think.”