The history of the biggest ice hockey arena outside the USA began in 1998 when it was known as “Kölnarena”. In 2008 the name was changed to Lanxess Arena. Today the Lanxess Arena in Cologne, Germany, is ranking on sixth place on the list of the 'Top 200 Arena Venues Worldwide Ticket Sales'. When built between 1996 and 1998 and was equipped with the state of the art sound system of the day. However, a lot has changed in the past twenty years. System requirements have increased immensely: the audience has higher expectations concerning the sound, the demands of the technicians and the management are elevated in terms of flexibility, functionality, an even distribution of the sound to all the seats, but also economic efficiency and not to forget, the legal obligations which have to be met.
The Lanxess Arena management decided to replace the existing sound system with an up-to-date, modern acoustic system. The project started under the guidance of Michael Häck, the longtime in-house sound engineer. The selection procedure has been quite a challenge for everyone involved; a lot of decision criteria and parameters had to be taken into consideration. The list of requirements for the system was therefore rather long; different sound zones had to be established, the entire system would also have to function as voice alarm 24/7 and part of the structure should find its further application as a delay line during concerts. To a greater extent it should find its use to support the games of the “Kölner Haie”, the home team of the Lanxess Arena. A fundamental issue was meeting the legal obligations of a speech intelligibility index of 0.5 that has to be delivered to all seats in the arena that has a reverberation time of 3 seconds as well as the legally specified value of the minimum SPL during an evacuation procedure.
The final decision for choosing TW AUDiO came in April 2016 after long talks, demos and acoustical tests. A combination of VERA36 and the VERA S33 subwoofer was chosen as the main system to surround the big video cube in the middle of the arena, supported by several T24N for the playing field and the stands.
After the decision making the plan has been put to action immediately. “It wasn’t just a simple case of exchanging some loudspeakers”, explains Michael Häck. “The entire infrastructure consisting of optical fibres, network technology, amplifiers and the entire signal processing hard- and software were to be replaced.”
It has been decided to choose one of the market leaders in network controlled audio transmission: Biamp. At TW AUDiO we have written dedicated presets using the Tesira Server. Sixteen Lab.gruppen D-series amps have been installed using the Tesira platform.
The system planning was carried out using Ease 4.4 and Ease Focus 3. During the intensive planning period we also had to create custom made suspension devices for the arrays and the amp racks on the catwalks.
The entire system is in use since October 2016: 56 x VERA36, 16 x VERA S33, and 10 x T24N are providing a modern and up-to-date sound in the Lanxess Arena meeting all criteria of the qualification profile.
Michael Häck about the installation: “We already noticed the exceptional power and directivity of the VERA36 system during the selection process when measuring the systems. In January 2016 we tested the TW AUDiO system for the first time during a live show of the “Lachende Kölnarena”. We’ve flown an array of 10 x VERA36 with 4 x S33 in endfire mode alongside the VERA on each side of the stage. Everyone, including the house technician and the band’s engineer were impressed by the sound, especially the sound of the speech that was cut through the surrounding noise of 8000 carnival revelers and the imaginary 4000 tambourines. The system’s incredible intelligibility and defined sound pattern was undoubtedly convincing.”
“However, it wasn’t just the sound that made us decide for TW AUDiO. It was also the professional collaboration during the planning period with the colleagues of the development and support departments. Every inspirational and constructive idea has been taken on board, thought through and implemented. And that still carries on after the installation took place. Also Biamp, the system has constantly been adapted to its needs,” concludes Michael Häck.