Situated in the heart of a region of rugby, The 19,500 capacity Stade Ernest-Wallon in Toulouse, is home to the famous Stade Toulousain French rugby union team. With 19 titles under its belt, and many emblematic players, the Stade Toulousain is the most prominent rubgy club in France. Their former coach, Guy Noves, is now heading the National Rugby team.
To keep up with its international standing, the Stade Toulousain recently underwent a complete technical upgrade for its stadium. With the passing of time, new security /evacuation standards such as EN54-24 had been introduced and digital signal transport protocols streamlined with the introduction of Dante by Audinate.
The club approached local audio visual installation company Triaxe with whom they had worked, previously for a screen solution deployment — and the integration company embarked on an empirical journey to find the best solution for the best value. For as this is a privately owned rugby stadium, and has no standards (such as UEFA) to ascribe to. The decision was for an advanced Powersoft Ottocanali system to power a D.A.S. stadium speaker system.
The problems for the Stade Toulousain had begun last season when some of their existing amps started to fail on several stands. Losing channels during a Second Division rugby match, they knew they had to act quickly before the new season started. They were fortunate that the 2015 Rugby World Cup gave them a break for a month in September so they were able to start.
Meanwhile Christophe Carles, Technical Director of Axente, who distribute both Powersoft and D.A.S. Audio, first modeled the stadium using EASE predictive and visualization software.
Working with Axente, Triaxe has designed a cost-effective and economic PA system in which 5 of Powersoft’s increasingly popular eight-channel Ottocanali 8K4 drive 76 D.A.S. Audio WR8826 DX IP65-rated 80° x 80° dispersion loudspeakers.
The Ottocanali 8K4 outputs 1,000W per channel into 4 ohms (600W into 8 ohms) and the sound is processed through D.A.S. Audio’s DSP-2060A processing.
Housing 2 x 6” drivers, the speakers are hung in clusters of two — one enclosure pointing back at the upper tier and the other for the lower stand. These are mounted around the lip of the stadium roofs while in both corners of the ‘C’-shaped stands there is an additional cluster of three speakers.
The sound was zoned using a pair of Yamaha matrix devices, which managed the routing over several protocols including Dante. Aside from delivering great intelligibility to the crowds, the Stade Toulousain also wanted to put the players “in the zone” as they emerged from the tunnel onto the pitch providing high SPL to help motivate them to the atmosphere — and this clever piece of psycho-acoustics is certainly one of the prime features.
The speaker system is made of 16 clusters of 2 WR8826DX for the opposite stand (the “I” shaped stand) and 19 clusters of two speakers for the “C” shaped stand. On top of that there’s a further cluster of 3 WR8826DX speakers in each curve of the C stand.
Two Ottocanali 8K4 feed the I shaped stand (two speakers per channel in 8 ohms), while the other three Ottocanali 8K4 cater for the C shaped stand (with also two speakers per channel at 8 ohms). Both areas use a DSP2060A processor which, combined with a standard program limiter and a D-Max clip limiter, prevents any excess in the threshold and provides advanced protection for the speakers.
Axente recommended D.A.S. Audio WR8826 DX speakers because of their power to size ratio. Although they are relatively small with embedded 6” speakers, they can go deep in the low frequencies and don’t overwork as spectrum optimisation is managed by the DSP2060A processor. In addition, these speakers are rated IP55, making it perfect for outdoor use.
According to Pierre Carrère, Co-owner of Triaxe, “the choice of Powersoft was an easy one. Ottocanali is dedicated to the installation market, and having eight channels allows you to save space and save power while the audio quality speaks for itself. This was important because the technical rooms are quite small.” Triaxe also new that by standardising on Powersoft they could achieve a homogeneous and coherent solution.
Olivier Jantin, Triaxe’s Project Manager, confirmed that there had been many obstacles and challenges to overcome, not least being the cable management, while the pitch’s sprinkler and water pipe system had to be protected (and thus no cherry pickers were allowed on the turf during installation).
Other difficulties included the short time frame, since the installation had to be completed before the start of the new season, and that a specification had to be drawn up from scratch.
“The installation team worked day in day out, 30 hours in a row to make sure everything was ready in time — including running a cable path measuring a total of 2.5km around the underside of the stadium roof” said Olivier. In the end, the work was completed and handed over at 11am on the morning of the first match (at 9pm this evening).
“The installation team was fantastic” sums up Assistant Stadium Manager Paul Catuffe. He confirms that unlike 12 months previously, the intelligibility is now first class and security announcements can be heard clearly as messages are triggered from the Yamaha matrix, which automatically cuts the main loudspeaker sound.
Vincent Bonnet, Development Director for the Stade Toulousain, adds that the requirement for homogenised sound, from the seats nearest the pitch right to the upper tribunes, had been met.
Summarising, he said, “There were many other companies prepared to offer specs, brands and simulations, which made decision making difficult,” said Mr. Bonnet, “but we knew Triaxe were a local company that we could trust.
”They explained how the system would work and even rigged a demo system for us to hear. We also wanted something that was functional and easy to use and this is perfectly adapted to what we wanted, where it could be operated technician free.”
However, Triaxe knew that from an acoustic perspective the stadium had not been badly designed. “After they gave the go-ahead we were confident we could meet the requirement but they had to wait until the end to hear the end result; they didn’t know what they could expect so fortunately they are really satisfied,” concluded Olivier Jantin.
As far as source inputs are concerned, the public is entertained via radio mics (wireless with a wired one as a backup) and music (sourced from a Mac), as well as a horn (siren) that signals half time and full time, and is triggered automatically through a PC.
The new system was commissioned and EQ’d in November 2015. Final tweaks were carried out as the first crowds thronged into the stadium to cater for the difference of sound with a full stadium. Since then it has operated problem free. Health checks are routinely carried out and set the system for the weekend (two or three days in advance of home matches). “The system is very good, exactly what they expected,” confirms Olivier Jantin. Levels can manually be reduced when the stadium is only half full.
The Stade Toulousain is now completely adaptable, and while in the sporting arena it is used for rugby and football only, this summer the ground will also play host to Nitro Circus.
“Everyone has noticed and remarked on the improved quality of sound, sponsors included,” concludes Paul Catuffe. “Even the local newspapers reported on the high quality of the new sound system.”