PA for big track sporting events like horse, car, or bike racing hasn’t changed much in the past few decades – it’s still very much about 100s of 100V line horns covering the big runs you need on courses that can be kilometres long. Add the complication of temporary road routes at the UCI cycling event Santos Tour Down Under in South Australia and it’s more of the same, but with demanding set-up and pack-down times.
Unless you’re Adelaide’s Novatech Creative Event Technology, who decided to employ 24 premium L-Acoustics Syva colinear line source loudspeakers trackside to cover the Santos Tour Down Under 200 metres either side of each start, and 400 metres either side of each finish line for the 6 stages held daily. A loudspeaker more famously known for being at home on the catwalks of Paris Fashion Week and at top-end events all notably held indoors, Syva surprised and wowed the crowds and organisers with full-range, stunning quality, high SPL music and speech at all of the Tour’s seven stages.
“The Tour Down Under is a globally recognised event attracting 750,000 visitors, and we wanted to improve their experience,” says Ashley Gabriel, Director of Sales and Marketing at Novatech. “In pitching for the contract, we proposed to deploy L-Acoustics Syva every 30 to 50 metres on a custom-designed & engineered self erecting stand, safely secure to all types of existing street infrastructure and set to a variable height up to 4 metres. Not only would this supply high quality, full-range audio to the crowd, we’d be able to set-up and pack-down on race day instead of running cabling and horns two weeks out, and with no ladders or working at heights for our crew which is a huge safety improvement from previous work practices.”
Novatech’s team contacted L-Acoustics and Jands about the practicalities of using Syva outdoors, especially considering the very real heat and dust of South Australia in January. “They were intrigued, to say the least!” reports Ashley. “Syva had been used outdoors previously, and it was possible to protect against heat, dust and rain by using a custom bracket at the top of the units that protected cabling and the inputs, while tilting them down. Overall, the longest circuit we covered was the opening 1.7 km stage around Adelaide’s Rymill Park, where we used Syva on all four straights and L-Acoustics Kara as infills.”
There were many advantages to using high-end, full-range PA loudspeakers with dedicated signal distribution. “Syva’s 140 degree dispersion pattern means one loudspeaker can cover both sides of the street,” Ashley illustrates, “and their high output meant they could throw 50 metres comfortably, and up to 75 metres if there was no wind. As each Syva is fed by its own dedicated LA4X amp channel, we used Network Manager via a large wireless network to time align each output using a wireless tablet, meaning you don’t get the delay you do with horns, which just added to the intelligibility and clarity. And the bottom end! You should have seen the race official’s and commentator’s faces when we first turned them on!”
Novatech’s crew divided into ‘Start’ and ‘Finish’ teams that set up the Syva towers and signal distribution around the sites via fibre optics over kilometres of tracks. All audio signal was carried via the open AVB standard over Ethernet network routed through the new L-Acoustics P1 audio processors, while video was carried to Novatech’s ROE CB3 & CB5 LED screens at the start and finish lines over fibre via Riedel’s MediorNet. The Syva’s and L-Acoustics Kara podium PAs were powered by L-Acoustics LA-RAKS, which operated flawlessly in 40+ degree heat with no extra cooling.
Meanwhile, back at the Tour Down Under Village in Adelaide’s Victoria Square, Nexstage built a custom 18 metres wide by 8 metres high Layher scaffold structure for team presentations and events , vinyl wrapped with signage, paired with a 30 square metre ROE Visual CB5 LED screen and L-Acoustics K2 line array. After 1980s corporate pastiche pop stars Client Liaison rocked opening night, the live site stayed active for the 10 days of The Tour, running , interviews, highlights, competitions, and fan entertainment.