In Casablanca, Morocco, the Mohammed V Stadium has re-opened after renovations, which have restored it to former glories, and implemented the technical standards recognised by international competition organisers. For audio production, a NEXO GEO S12 sound reinforcement system has been chosen, designed and installed, all in the shortest time frame in NEXO’s long experience with stadium sound.

The Stade Mohammed V has capacity for up to 67,000, and is the home of Casablanca’s two football clubs, as well as hosting the games of Morocco’s National team. Since it was built, it has been considered to be the national stadium of Morocco and has hosted the biggest events and sporting competitions in the country.

As part of a major programme to upgrade facilities, the city of Casablanca appointed integration company Encom to orchestrate the installation of world-class sound reinforcement equipment, which would also be used to meet international voice alarm and evacuation standards.  Based in Casablanca, Encom is a PA company, an installer and audiovisual integrator, as well as an importer of pro audio equipment. One of the company’s imported brands is NEXO.

Not for the first time, Encom’s General Manager, Rachid Mediouni, turned to NEXO’s Engineering Support Division to design the project.  Working together, the companies have already delivered two successful stadium installations with international-class audio technology, in Agadir and Marrakech.

“Having used these products previously, as well as this rigging solution, we had no doubt it was the perfect answer to such a difficult task. NEXO’s GEO S loudspeakers are ideal for difficult and challenging projects, thanks to the construction and design, as well as specifications and the ease of installation,” explained Rachid.

The Casablanca schedule was tight. Senior Project Designer, Carole Marsaud recalled that the turnaround between winning the tender in May, and completing the installation by the end of July, was one of the shortest in the experience of NEXO’s specialist ES Division.

Carole’s brief was also unusual in that the Mohammed V stadium is mainly an open stadium. Only a small percentage of the stands are covered by a roof, markedly different in construction to the national stadia of Europe.  For an audio designer, this poses the question of where to position the large clusters of powerful loudspeaker modules required to throw sound to thousands of seats.

“Without a structure, it was a challenge,” explained Carole. “We had to be more creative, although we were under a lot of time pressure.  The solution turned out to be simple.  We did something we’ve never done before – we tilted the clusters horizontally, to an angle that matched the slope of the stands.  By doing that, the clusters became perpendicular to the spectators area, which is the only way to cover properly the top rows in the middle of each stand.”

“As a mainly open stadia with very few hanging points, we had to identify the best shooting points and raise the clusters accordingly. Tisseyre & Partners proposed to tilt and lean the clusters according to the seating slope in order to be perpendicular to the audience as we previously did in Agadir Stadium. In regard to the rigging possibilities available, it was the accurate choice and decision to make, and it worked perfectly,” furthered Rachid.

Other considerations for this venue included problems arising from a very high level of crowd noise, particularly when it comes to the fiercely contested matches between the two Casablanca teams, Wydad and Raja, whose fans are recognised worldwide for their incredible tifos. The NEXO system needed to deliver at 101dBA in order to be heard over the rival fans sitting in opposite stands.

The NEXO team designed the system around its GEO S12 line array loudspeaker, and its GEO S12-ST variant. GEO S12 has been designed for concert sound, and the S12-ST version, adapted to deliver higher SPL and enhanced speech intelligibility, has become NEXO’s best-selling enclosure for the long-throw applications in stadia and arenas.  More than 70 GEO S12 cabinets are deployed in Casablanca.

“One grandstand section is covered by a roof,” explained Carole. “Here we have used a standard design, flying six clusters each with six GEO S12 cabinets from the roof beams.  It was more difficult to find loudspeaker positions for the uncovered stands.

“We were able to position a big array of eight GEO S12 modules on each side of the roof, angling them so they match the slope of the seating areas.  On the opposite side of the pitch, there is a centrally-placed tower, which houses press and officials: this gave us another site to put arrays of eight modules, this time using the long-throw GEO S12-ST modules, which could address 80-metres of audience area.  This was the best solution possible, given the infrastructure, and we are very pleased with the audio performance we achieved.”

The system is powered by NEXO’s NXAMP4x4 controller/amplifiers, distributed among four amplifier room locations.  The installation takes advantage of fibre optic cabling, with a Dante network in place and a Yamaha digital console in control.