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Juárez Vive stadium brings baseball alive with sound system

Juárez Vive stadium opened this season to welcome baseball fans in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. Ciudad Juárez’ strategic location in the context of Mexico’s drug wars threatened to smother the rich cultural life of its 1.3 million people, but things have turned around in recent years and the city is regaining its footing. The new stadium thus bears a level of personal investment from city and government officials that have influenced its design and construction.

The stadium’s modern game-day experience now includes a highly-intelligible, pleasantly-musical sound reinforcement delivered by Danley Sound Labs loudspeakers and subwoofers, with support from Ashly amplifiers and Symetrix processing. Rich Mason, President of North-Carolina-based Clarity Incorporated, the company that designed the audio installation, said:

The Governor of Chihuahua, César Duarte Jáquez, toured the construction site frequently to track and encourage the progress. Our charge was to deliver ‘sound that was befitting the best of Mexico’. They expected us to jump a very high bar.

The construction company, Afirma, only involved Clarity Incorporated after first determining that the original sound system designer wouldn’t be able to deliver that kind of performance on budget. As a result, Clarity Incorporated started the design three months late and operated on an emergency schedule.

Bill Weir, Clarity Incorporated’s Director of Technology designed the system with assistance from Ivan Beaver, Danley Sound Labs’ Chief Engineer. A small crew from Clarity Incorporated spent three weeks on site to assist Afirma with the installation. Weir said:

This is a value-engineered system. Occasionally, you get a big-budget project in which issues can be overcome simply by throwing money at them. You don’t have to give them a lot of thought. But in this day and age, and especially for a government client, money is tight and you have to carefully balance the tradeoffs inherent in any decision, but in such a way that no one feels that it’s a compromise. That’s a value-engineered system.

Loudspeaker and subwoofer placement at the new stadium looks deceptively simple. Nineteen Danley SM-80 full-range loudspeakers ring the lip of the roof that covers the stands, and every other SM-80 is joined by a Danley TH-118 subwoofer. Weir observed that subwoofers are often omitted from stadium designs:

With conventional subs, it’s hard to retain low end definition or clarity in a stadium situation. It’s just mud. In contrast, Danley’s tapped-horn subwoofers have vastly lower group delay and a very definite focus that you can’t get from conventional designs. Put another way, it doesn’t matter how loud or low something goes, it’s the manner in which it does so that matters. And Tom Danley’s bass is not only loud and low, it’s musical and defined.

The stadium’s roof and appropriate spacing also contribute to exceptional low frequency definition. Heil microphones and a handful of other input sources feed a 16-channel Yamaha LS9 console, which in turn feeds a Symetrix 8×8 DSP with a Symetrix BreakOut12 for additional outputs. Weir added:

As well as one might plan things out, the system requirements are likely to change on site. Symetrix has a reputation for building solid algorithms that are supported by well-designed analog circuitry. Its flexible open-architecture topology allowed me to perfectly tune the system functionality while I was in Juárez.

Nine Ashly pe3800 and four Ashly ne2400 amplifiers power the system. All of the Ashly amplifiers are networked to allow Ethernet control from a central location. Weir concluded:

Clarity has no obligations to any manufacturer. I can use whatever I want in my designs. Given the design expectations and constraints at Juárez Vive, I’m certain that this is the only combination of gear that would have succeeded. It’s a very unique synergy, and I’ve never heard a better system for anything less than five times the price. From the client’s perspective, it’s simple: they have a far better audio system than even dared imagine possible, and they stayed on budget.