Athens 2004

Behind the Scenes at the Olympic Games

Behind the Scenes at the Olympic Games RAMSA:
The Audio System Developed Specifically for the Olympic Games Athens 2004

Photo: Panoramic view of the stadium where the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games Athens 2004 was held

Athletes gathered in Athens with a strong determination: to achieve the most epic performance at the birthplace of the Olympic Games. The team heading up Panasonic’s audio system, RAMSA, was equally resolved to outdo itself with their state-of-the-art, line-array speakers. These speakers, the culmination of the experience and skill gathered over the years, were the pride of the RAMSA engineers. They had dedicated many hours into the design to ensure perfect performance when the Olympic Games returned to Greece.

The Birth of RAMSA out of Setbacks

Used in most venues at the past Olympic Games, the Panasonic RAMSA audio system conveyed the thrill of the Olympic competition through its dynamic sound. However, at the Olympic Winter Games Salt Lake 2002, the RAMSA team’s expectations were dashed. The team could not carry out system installations to all venues as previously planned, as the prepared speakers did not meet the specifications of the main stadium. To the RAMSA engineers, the Salt Lake 2002 left a bitter taste of regret. With this in mind, Panasonic developed the line-array speaker to provide Athens 2004 with an unprecedented and elevated level of sound.

Photo: Close-up view of Panasonic RAMSA audio system's line array speakers

With conventional speakers, sound suffers from attenuation: sound weakens with distance. Line-array systems minimized this attenuation so that all spectators in the vast Olympic venue could enjoy the clear, high-quality sound regardless of seating. At the Olympic Games Athens 2004, 1,800 of RAMSA’s innovative speakers were to be installed at 33 Olympic venues: under the scorching sun, in vast gymnasiums, atop the roof of a 20-meter building. Even with precise calculations for each of the varying conditions, the RAMSA team would need to perform meticulous fine-tuning during installation. The engineers carried out the installation process, patiently clearing each hurdle one by one.

Image: Frequency band simulation image that visually demonstrates that line array speakers can deliver higher quality sound over a wider area when compared with regular speakers

Filling the Hallowed Space with Superior Sound

With one week to go before the Opening Ceremony, the sacred space symbolizing the Olympic Games was at last fitted with 44 line-array speakers. Damian Rowe, Panasonic’s Chief Engineer, had led the local staff during many of Panasonic’s past Olympic Games projects. With Rowe at the helm, the team made up of RAMSA staff and support members from Japan, united to install the line-array speakers in the classic horseshoe stadium. In the midst of his umpteenth control-room test, Rowe broke into a smile. It had all come together.
Panasonic’s preparations are already underway for the next Olympic Games in Beijing. Just as athletes strive for ever-higher glory at the Olympic Games, Panasonic continues to advance its technology – to bring wonder, four years later, to the world again.

Photo: Line array speakers being installed at the opening ceremony venue of the Olympic Games Athens 2004