Dante audio networking in pole position at Bristol Motor Speedway

Bristol Motor Speedway—a prominent NASCAR raceway in Bristol, Tennessee—recently upgraded to Dante audio over IP networking by Audinate, making it one of the most extensive and complex live audio installations in the world. During major events, such as NASCAR, Monster Trucks, or a college football game, this 2.5-square mile stadium typically hosts up to 165,000 spectators that expect big audio to enhance the excitement of their racing or game day experience.

“Given the unique operational demands of this high-pressured, live event environment, and the great distances that sound has to travel, there was only one digital audio networking platform that was up to this challenge: Dante audio-over-IP networking by Audinate,” said Josh Thompson, co-founder of Point Source, a Phoenix-based consulting firm that was contracted for systems integration on the audio and acoustics systems. Since installing the system, Point Source now provides ongoing sound services for Bristol Motor Speedway events throughout the year, with Thompson serving as its principal producer and sound engineer.

The facility’s PA system, which is comprised of more than 500 loudspeakers, delivers crystal clear live sound, including announcements, music, the national anthem, and the traditional command, “Gentlemen start your engines,” throughout the grandstands, concession areas, and private suites. Sound also rings out beyond the stadium, reaching the far corners of the sprawling five-mile wide complex, including the gates, parking lots, trams and shuttles. Since the network is IP-addressable, multiple channels of audio can be sent simultaneously along point-to-point paths. The audio can target individual loudspeakers, groups of loudspeakers, or all loudspeakers on the premises, and these destinations can be modified on the fly.

“In the event of an unforeseen emergency, such as a sudden storm, lightning, a power outage or a fiery car crash on the track, the raceway’s PA system becomes the best and fastest way to warn the crowd of impending danger and advise them what to do in order to stay safe. We take this responsibility very seriously, which is why we chose a highly secure audio networking solution configured with multiple levels of redundancy. Dante has proven to be extremely dependable, with 100 percent uptime and very low latency,” Thompson said.

Rapid deployment, less than one millisecond of latency, a streamlined workflow, cost-efficiency and a high degree of flexibility and scalability are just some of the reasons Thompson cites for choosing Dante. Its user-friendly operation means that sound crews do not need special engineering training or certification. And when devices are plugged into the network, they immediately pop up on Dante Controller and begin passing audio, shaving days of work off the installation and set-up process.

With 140 Inputs/Outputs (I/Os), Bristol’s Dante network is formidable, with hundreds of components integrated into one seamless network. This includes Dante-enabled BSS London BLU digital signal processors, a Yamaha digital audio mixer with the DM1000 analog/digital (A/D) input/output (I/O) box, Yamaha Dante-MY16-AUD Interface Card, and Yamaha TI01608A breakout box for handling media inputs from analogue sources.

Another vital third-party component is the Lab.gruppen D-Series amplifier platform, which provides for highly streamlined, open interoperability. Since the amplifiers have built-in digital signal processing, Point Source didn’t need to buy outboard DSP boxes. This saved the raceway’s management company tens of thousands of dollars while eliminating points of failure.

Numerous Dante-enabled Attero Tech unDIO2X2 boxes serve as on- and off-ramps to the Dante network. Each box allows two input/outputs (I/Os) to be added easily and instantly to the network. Access is as easy as just plugging a video camera or other acquisition device into one of the many Attero Tech wall plates available facility-wide.

“Dante is configured as a matrix and when you click from here to there, the link is made and audio passes,” Thompson added. “If we need to bring in audio on short notice, say from the driver’s area in the dragway or to pick up the sound of the drivers’ worship service before the race, we can set up that routing with just a mouse click. That to me is huge, particularly in a dynamic live broadcast environment like this one.

“We’re striving for an optimal fan experience at every live event and I know that Dante is the right vehicle to get us there,” said Thompson. “Dante is the future of audio.”

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