Located close to the southern French city of Aix-en-Provence, the outside of Arena Pays d’Aix presents a futuristic vision, its clean, sweeping lines contrasting with the surrounding countryside of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur. It has quickly become a popular destination for sport and entertainment from throughout the region, including nearby Marseille, France’s third largest city.
Designed by architect Christophe Gulizzi, the vision of the future continues inside, where a modular format allows the 4,000m 2 interior space to offer 17 different configurations, depending on the type of event being hosted.
The main space (Grande Salle, unofficially nicknamed The Cauldron) is the home of the Pays d’Aix University handball club, which competes in Division 1 of the Ligue Nationale de Handball. Featuring an audience capacity of up to 7,000, it can be configured to host a wide range of other events, including tennis, wrestling, indoor motocross, live concerts, ballet and much more.
Arena Pays d’Aix also features a secondary arena (Salle Annex) with room for up to 1,500 spectators, as well as three exhibition / event spaces which can hold up to 450 people each, bars / concessions and a press room. The main concourse (La Coursive) can also be used to host events, with a capacity of 1,800 people.
The venue’s interior designer Kanju commissioned consultants Solus 3 to design the AV systems. Solus 3 approached Aix-en-Provence based systems integrator Société Texen to deliver a solution where flexibility and quality were the most important features.
Texen’s Thomas Goeuriot recommended a Dante-networked Yamaha and Nexo system, which is centred on four ‘nodes’ installed throughout the venue, each comprising a system rack with a MTX5-D matrix processor, XMV series amplifiers, 24 port switches and, where required, Tio1608-D i/o racks.
All areas apart from The Cauldron feature Yamaha loudspeakers, including VXC5F-VA (voice evacuation model) and NS-IC400 ceiling speakers, VXS1ML and VXS3FT compact surface mount models.
In The Cauldron, 30 Nexo GEO S12 loudspeakers delivers high quality sound to sport and event audiences. Arrayed as 10 flown clusters of three around the edge of the arena floor, they are powered and controlled by NXAMP 4×4 and NXAMP 4×1 amplifiers.
“Many manufacturers approached us to provide the Cauldron system,” said Thomas. “Coverage and intelligibility were really important and Nexo provided the best technical solution. The GEO S12 speakers cover low enough frequencies without needing subs and they provide seamless coverage to every seat.”
Meanwhile, in addition to the installed VXC5F-VA and NS-IC400 ceiling models, the Salle Annex features four CBR15 loudspeakers, driven by P7000 amplifiers, for added audio power and depth for sports training sessions, plenary sessions and other events.
A TF5 digital mixing console was also supplied, which can be plugged into the system for local mixing in any area. The press room features a pair of VXS8 loudspeakers for event monitoring, with the system also providing broadcast I/O.
“Arena Pays d’Aix has the most modern, high quality facilities installed throughout and the audio system is fundamental to delivering the best experience to all users,” said Yamaha’s Pascal Bessenet. “The entire audio system was single-sourced from the Yamaha and Nexo family, delivering not only high quality sound, but exceptional flexibility and reliability. We know these qualities will serve the Arena well for many years to come.”