The Melbourne Cricket Ground is the largest stadium in the Southern Hemisphere, and the second largest cricket ground by capacity in the world. Established in 1853, just 18 years after the founding of Melbourne itself, the MCG remains one of the city’s most iconic and celebrated features.
As part of the stadium’s recent A$25m audio overhaul, the MCG’s System Control Room has been upgraded to include dual redundant 4REA4 audio management systems and a workhorse DiGiCo SD9 mixing console; thanks to technical consultant Auditoria and integrator Diversified.
4REA4 is a uniquely designed system processor created to bring high quality, flexibility and ease of use to networked venue audio. Featuring 128 inputs and 56 outputs via a range of network ports, DMI and SD-Rack card slots, the system offers a host of channel processing and signal flow management abilities. 4REA4 can act as a point-to-point router for up to 512 channels, meaning any channel from any device on the network can be routed directly to any other device on the network, all without affecting processing capacity.
The 4REA4 system allows engineers to split the audio workspace into 4 zones, each with their own stereo master, to which access can be limited through Permissions and User Groups. The system also features 8 Macro control buttons that can instantly change the signal flow configuration- enabling engineers to tailor the setup for different applications, which can then be recalled on demand.
Auditoria’s Senior Consultant, Luis Miranda, says the 4REA4 system is integral to collating the wide range of audio i/o that runs throughout the complex- comprised of flexible location-oriented input structures and outputs to over 3,500 loudspeakers.
“There are a lot of different rooms and different audio applications here. And the MCG staff need control over absolutely all of this, as the system we’ve tailored for the MCG doesn’t just run entertainment audio- it also runs the information, public address, fire and emergency systems. These are all combined into a comprehensive setup that needed to be rock-solid,” explains Luis.
The MCG features a veritable plethora of event spaces, including function rooms, cafes, pubs, and private suites, all of which can run local source audio separate from the main PA with varying degrees of complexity. In addition to these, the MCG also includes two loudspeaker systems for the entry areas and one for the exit area.
“With the extensive primary PA and all the additional spaces, we’ve ended up with a huge number of different amplifiers, racks and networking modules. The 4REA4’s job is to take different i/o types and unify them into a centralised mix architecture. This means they can be fed into the SD9 mixing console if need be, or just addressed directly through the 4REA4 mix engine.”
4REA4’s i/o and control peripherals can interface over a standard, standalone network. The unit is designed to be plug and play, supporting ‘off the shelf’ Layer 2 network hardware- no IP or MAC addresses are required, meaning simple ID settings are all that are needed to establish communication. 4REA4 has the ability to interface with a multitude of proprietary and standard network protocols, including Dante, MADI, Aviom, Waves Soundgrid, Optocore, ME-1, and AES. A powerhouse of connectivity and flexible operation, 4REA4 supports bi-directional communication with every device on its network.
“We decided to use 4REA4 in our project for several reasons” says Luis. “The 4REA4 serves multiple purposes in the installation but its biggest role is interfacing the worlds of production audio with the kind of ‘room AV’ one might typically associate with spaces like classrooms, boardrooms, and convention spaces for example.”
“We have a production suite fitted with a DiGiCo console that gives an operator all the necessary tools and a familiar environment to deliver game day audio. But we also have several rooms fitted with systems that use simplified controllers, such as touch screens, to control things like audio feeds and TV channels. 4REA4 serves to bridge both worlds and allow for sufficient separation and independence so that both styles can function on the same network at the same time.”
“We also use 4REA4 as a mixing engine in a reduced mode with the inclusion of ACONTROL8 panels, for scenarios in which a console operator is not required, but typical audio feed adjustment would be desirable- such as large corporate presentations in the bowl. As an additional benefit, the 4REA4 engine serves as a backup console with the ACONTROL8 panel if the main console were to stop working.”
Leveraging the power of FPGA technology, 96kHz sample rates and intuitive control software, 4REA4’s abilities make it a worthy choice for the MCG’s new system. The unit’s ability to natively integrate with top-tier PA and broadcast products, demonstrates why 4REA4 is quickly becoming the preferred connectivity option for AV installers faced with multi-room designs.