Metinteractive Provides New Audio System for the Western Hemisphere’s Largest Stadium at the University of Michigan

Metinteractive, which provides strategic solutions for architecture, communication and technology, supplied the new audio system for the University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor-based Michigan Stadium, the largest stadium in the Western Hemisphere and the third largest in the world, seating almost 108,000 spectators.

Nicknamed “The Big House,” Michigan Stadium had a $41 million facelift last year with the aim of enhancing the fan experience with bigger scoreboards, an improved audio system for better sound balance throughout the bowl, and new lighting.

Metinteractive’s role in the project was cited in the SCN Installation Showcase, which highlighted ten of the Best Pro AV Installations completed by integration firms in 2023.  Metinteractive was contracted by Mitsubishi Electric, the project’s prime contractor and scoreboard provider.  “We had worked with Metinteractive before, and it was very clear that they knew this job very well – they’re our go-to integrator and audio supplier,” says Jon Deiuliis, Manager of Projects and Construction at Mitsubishi Electric.

“The primary design challenge for Michigan Stadium was similar to those of other stadiums we’ve worked on but compounded by the sheer size of the facility,” notes Metinteractive Engineer Keith Book. “We had to get high- frequency sound 800 feet across to the other end zone.  An EAW Anya speaker array was one of the few products that could deliver what we needed.”

Another challenge was the project’s tight timeline.  “We needed to make it across the finish line in time for the Wolverines’ home opener,” says Metinteractive Project Manager Don Ellis.  “The size and scope of this project was about as close to pro football as you can get on the college level.”

“There was nothing easy about this job,” reports Deiuliis.  “It was a complex system that needed to work seamlessly, with time factored in to make adjustments, and operate perfectly for opening day.”

Book explains that the ability to actively focus energy vertically is paramount when driving audio across a football stadium of length.  It’s not just about even coverage for the audience, it’s about not exciting walls, scoreboards, glass or any other surface in its path.  Careful consideration was also given to environmental noise control and to obeying sound ordinances affecting residential and commercial property outside the stadium.  Michigan Stadium didn’t want a loud show, but it needed to grab everyone’s attention at game time.    

Audio technology had greatly changed since the installation of the previous Meyer self-powered array system, Book points out.  The Anya speakers offered several major advantages for a stadium system design, including an inline vertical form factor, a hearty low frequency extension and the ability to throw high frequency over long distances.  EAW Otto subwoofers were co-located above the Anya speakers.

Anya’s vertical form factor allowed installation in a smaller cavity area within the new North scoreboard assembly.  Not only did the 30-plus-foot-tall array fit, but it also enabled service catwalk extensions behind the speaker systems.  This would have been very difficult to coordinate and install with a more traditional curvilinear array system.  In addition, the low frequency extension generated a warm and crowd-pleasing response. 

Metinteractive also provided downfill speakers for the area directly in front of the North scoreboard and under-mezz speakers for the east side’s upper seating, which was hard to reach with the main speaker array.  These small powerhouse speaker systems were from the EAW MKD series and performed well paired with QSC Q-SYS power amps and DSP. 

Shure Axient Digital mics provided a solid and versatile wireless system, primarily for referees.  A Yamaha CL series console with SoundGrid and Waves integration brought everything together in the sound booth and represented a considerable upgrade over previous gear.

Deiuliis believes that Metinteractive’s process of mounting and testing all equipment at its Connecticut facility before arriving on site was “a key to the project’s success given the scope of the work.  Everything was vetted ahead of time so Metinteractive was confident and ready to go in Michigan, and we experienced no major issues on site. “Since I’m not a sound guy,” he adds, “handing the audio over to Metinteractive meant I didn’t have anything to worry about.  It was the best move I could have made on the project.”

Ellis gives kudos to Michigan-based telecommunications contractor, Steve Swartzinski of Communication Infrastructure Resources, Inc., whose past work with the university and knowledge of the facility were instrumental in the project’s successful completion.  “We couldn’t have finished when we did without him,” he says.  “Steve always put the project first, a quality that’s in short supply these days,” adds Book.

Design and Consulting services were provided by Mark Graham with WJHW.  Metinteractive’s Pete Briggs served as the Technical Project Manager and was instrumental in getting the work up and running.

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