Galatasaray SK and the sound of the crowd

Turkey: Designing audio systems for any large stadium is a tricky challenge. Designing one for a crowd as loud as the one that regularly crams into Galatasaray SK’s new 52,650-capacity, multi-purpose Türk Telekom Arena, is even more difficult. Since March, the club has been the proud holder of the offical Guiness World Record for Loudest Crowd Roar in a Sports Stadium, the club managing 49,488 Galatasaray fans (plus 2500 Fenerbahçe accomplices) managing to generate 131.76dB.

No real surprise then that, needing to overcome these prodigious noise levels from a fiercely partisan crowd, audio designer Asimetrik turned to an EAW solution in designing the PA, combining 46 weather-protected MK series enclosures to provide the sonic presence in this complex audio-visual integration.

Construction firm Varyap-Uzunlar was awarded the builging contract and appointed Makro-Safir to handle the electrical infrastructure. They in turn sub-contracted the A/V element to Asimetrik, who are EAW’s Turkish distributor.

The original plan — to take the sound system from the old arena and re-install it at Türk Telekom Arena — was quickly abandoned. Asimetrik reasoned that the old stadium was only half the size of Galatasaray’s new home, and that in addition to a more muscular PA system they would require a broadcast-standard infrastructure suitable for the world’s media, and an evacuation system that would also meet international standards.

Asimetrik project co-ordinator Kadir Ulusoy proposed his design (and preferred brands) to the German architects and Turkish designers who conceived the stadium, supported by EASE acoustic calculations.

According to UEFA regulations, the sound system for the stadium needed to be able to generate an SPL of 105dB — however, Asimetrik managed to design the system with a much greater capability extending towards 140dB. They were also careful to design headroom into the system for future expansion.

To achieve the required impact, Asimetrik specified the weather-protected EAW MK series for the stadium PA, with MK 5366WP (60° x 60°), MK 5364WP (60° x 45°), and MK 5396WP (90° x 60°)° dispersion patterns.

The 46 EAW speakers are arranged in pairs around the perimeter of the stands — and since the arena has been designed with two tiers of seating, and a layer of VIP boxes sandwiched between them, one of each pair fires up into the top tier while the other points down into the lower tier. Speakers positioned in the areas behind the goal helped even out the sound pressures.

Helping to optimise the sound are presets stored for full- and half-capacity houses to help mitigate reflections — the presets are simply recalled depending on the size of the crowd, aided by an automatic sensing structure.

Elsewhere, the broadcast / camera infrastructure design supports HD format. There are extensive press and media centre facilities, and also two points for OB vans to connect to. All safety, security, evacuation and fire regulation standards have been met and there is the possibility to control the whole building’s lighting automation from a single PC.

Makro said that they were delighted with Asimetrik’s work. “We were able to measure a sound level of 110dB and are entirely satisfied both with these SPL measurements and intelligibility,” said the project manager.

Asimetrik MD, Mert Kiliççöte, summarised. “The solution we adopted was based on our observations of where the noisiest supporters were generally located at Galatasaray’s previous home, Ali Sami Yen Stadium. The EAW approach has proved completely justified.”

According to the company, Galatasaray adds to the growing list of worldwide stadia recently fitted with EAW systems, including Wembley and Twickenham (London), San Siro (Milan), Estádio da Luz (Lisbon), Grasshoppers (Zürich) and Nou Camp (Barcelona). An impressive list…

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