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Iowa Hawkeyes Fans All Ears With Dual DiGiCo SD11s

As the only stadium named after a Heisman trophy winner, Iowa City’s historic Kinnick Stadium—home to the University of Iowa Hawkeyes—is known for its pink visitor’s locker room, large seating capacity (70,585, which would make it the fifth most populous city in the state of Iowa on game day, if the stadium were a city), and, as of the 2014-2015 football season, one of the best point-source stadium audio systems ever built.

Powered by nearly 150,000 watts of amplifiers driving Danley Sound Labs speakers, Kinnick’s new audio system is controlled by a pair of DiGiCo SD11 audio mixing consoles. The dual mixing console design was proposed by system operator and rep firm Sound Concepts Inc., which worked closely with audio system consultant Anthony James Partners on the new design.

The two DiGiCo mixing consoles are redundantly linked via token-ring fiber, so either board can seamlessly take over full system operation at any time—even if a fiber connection is severed. One mixing console is primarily used to mix Front of House for the main stadium areas: seating, concourses, entrance gates and restroom areas, as well as audio feeds to TV and radio. The second console is used for Back of House mixing: indoor seating, private boxes and other indoor areas.

“The game-day audio mixing demands are extensive,” says Sound Concepts Owner Marvin Smejkal, “but the DiGiCo platform covers all the bases from redundant backup to mix minus on the field.” System operators utilize the DiGiCo SD11s to achieve precise control of this powerful and complex new audio system.

“Real estate in the Kinnick Stadium press box, where the audio system controls are located, is at a premium, so extremely capable mixing consoles with a compact footprint were required. The SD11 provides the most advanced fingertip control for a console of its size. Features such as the ability to assign both the primary and redundant head referee microphones to a single slider and completely customizable output zone controls make the SD11 platform the ideal fit for mixing audio during football games and other events for which the stadium is used.”

The stadium’s new sound system is structured like a distributed system, although all of the speakers are physically configured in a point source location within the scoreboard. The audio system is engineered to provide consistent sound coverage to all areas of the stadium bowl; however, using Danley Sound Lab’s Synergy Horn speakers, individual control of each zone is possible.

“This zone control allows us to adjust for wind, weather, ambient noise or inconsistently filled seating sections,” says Smejkal. “With the SD11, we are able to maintain consistent EQing in each zone, yet vary volume.”

Kinnick’s audio system has four layers of redundancy, starting with primary Dante, followed by a redundant Dante network (on a completely separate, standalone data/fiber system), AES and analog. The system can be operated remotely with the DiGiCo app and from the field during practice. Using the DiGiCo desks, volumes to individual zones are configured differently for pre-game without fans, pre-game with fans, and even during the game to compensate for crowd noise. According to the system’s operators, “Complex audio system operation is made easy with our powerful new DiGiCo tools!”

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