AoIP overhaul at AmericanAirlines Arena

The AmericanAirlines Arena in Florida – home to the NBA’s Miami Heat – recently completed an entire audio-visual upgrade using Audinate’s Dante Audio-over-IP (AoIP) networking solution.

The HEAT Group, the marketing and booking group for the Arena, has spent the last 15 years renovating and expanding parts of the venue. The latest technology upgrade not only included the arena bowl, but also a new exterior performance area.

The 19,600-seat stadium hosts more than 80 live events annually, including major concerts, family shows and national conferences. The new outdoor entertainment venue, Xfinity East Plaza (XEP) is a 23,000 sqft covered space located on the east side of the grounds. The initial planning for XEP focused on the careful placement of the DAS Audio loudspeaker columns to provide the best possible directional sound coverage and quality. Optimising the system achieved the desired goals, but all of the upgrades had to be done on a tight timeline.

Thankfully, Jorge Arronte, manager of arena sound and matrix for The HEAT Group, was familiar with the process of installing a Dante digital audio network because of the upgrades done previously in the arena bowl.

“Dante opened up a lot of doors for us inside AmericanAirlines Arena,” he said. “We transitioned the Juniper switches from service mode to enterprise mode to align more cleanly with the Dante network, and very quickly we were moving multicast signals from our AEQ breakout box to Lab.gruppen Lake amplifier cubes inside the bowl, and onward to restrooms and smoking balconies among other locations.”

This was seen as an immediate benefit, as achieving the sound quality desired by both the NBA and other discerning audience members was a significant challenge with the old system, while connections taking “hours versus weeks” simply through the transition to network cabling over copper was another instant improvement.

Reconfiguring the system for different events has also been greatly simplified. Since Dante made life much easier inside the arena, the decision was made to use it again for the XEP project, and with the network cabling placed abundantly throughout the arena, the time needed to open XEP to the public was soon minimised.

The core of the XEP network was centralised to a telecom room adjacent to existing IT racks, which shortened cable runs to the Dante-enabled Lab.gruppen Lake processing and amplification systems that power various loudspeakers and stage monitors. 

The network has been used for live performances from Flo Rida, DJ Natty Rico, DJ Irie and many local bands, and Arronte notes that with Dante already functioning in the rest of the building, configuring, sending and receiving signals needed at XEP or in the main control room takes a matter of seconds instead of hours.

“That expediency is crucial on game nights, when things run especially fast,” Arronte continued. “We recently had a request to add some music-activated visualization to an LED screen behind a DJ on stage at XEP. I added a dual-channel receive unit, added another Dante port to the switch, and it was up and running in less than a day – much to the surprise of the executive who suggested the idea. These are the reasons I am happily married to the Dante system.”