Indoor 5-a-side arenas in Swindon and Birmingham have recently undergone substantial face lifts, including state-of-the-art audio visual systems, new 3G pitches systems and facilities for a version of five-a-side football played on a smaller field and mainly indoors.

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The sound system was largely sourced from the HARMAN catalogue, represented in the UK and Ireland by Sound Technology Ltd., and specified and installed by system designers Nottingham Audio Visual (NAV) working for project management company, The Media Group.

Established in 1967 as independent specialists in all areas of AV technology, NAV has developed a long-standing relationship with The Media Group, providing hire and events services including temporary PA systems over a 12-year period. It was through this relationship, and previous experience of working at the Birmingham Indoor Football Venue, that they were invited to quote for the audio installations at both locations.

NAV project manager Tim Cottam said that the owners had been looking to diversify their customer base and cater for a range of different scenarios for their football pitches and league programme — with 10 pitches spanning three arenas in Birmingham and five pitches in a single arena at Swindon. They recognised that both sound systems were under-powered or poorly implemented.

“The new sound system needed to be sufficiently flexible to provide anything from low-level background music for general five-a-side football bookings, up to large-scale events utilising all the pitches simultaneously,” he explained.

“The design therefore needed to deliver high quality music and speech reproduction with excellent dynamic range and given the layout of the venue, provide maximum coverage for the entire floor area.”

In addition, the owners wanted ‘impact’ as customers walked into the venue and requested that the main entrance be placed on a separate audio zone, tying in with a newly installed projector and digital signage system, along with a further independent zone for the Bar area, where JBL Control 28-1 8” speakers have been deployed. The design allows for any of four sources to be routed to any zone desired and be controlled from a central location by non-technical staff; therefore it needed to be as simple to use as possible.

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Given full control over the new design, specification and implementation, NAV contacted Sound Technology. “It was our first engagement with them in a project sense. Initially we simply saw the relationship as a way of being able to get all of the components required from one source, but throughout the entire process it became clear that they offer a much more comprehensive service. From the initial design, right through to the implementation they have backed up their products at every stage and we were really impressed with their level of support.”

JBL’s purpose-designed AE Series was recommended — principally the AC2212/00 Compact 2-Way speaker, with 100° x 100° coverage, matched with JBL AC118S subs. Its specifications met the audio requirements, while providing the width of coverage necessary to cover much of the floor area — including three 3G pitches and four other pitches for the alternative five-a-side game over seven zones in Birmingham and four zones to include the arena, entrance and bar, in Swindon, where JBL AC599 speakers were also recommended to cover the four far pitches.

“The highly flexible mounting options (using M10 Eyebolts) meant that we could easily construct custom flying brackets to mount the speakers from the venue RSJ’s and point them at exactly the angle required,” explained Cottam.

The central processing was under BSS Soundweb BLU-100 control, combined with a BSS BLU 8v2 HiQnet compatible programmable zone controller. Tim Cottam knew that any non-technical user could easily adjust basic parameters such as selecting different zone sources and volume adjustment, with a visual level indicator.

An additional Soundweb Contrio EC-8BV Ethernet wall panel provides dedicated control over the AKG paging mic, allowing users to page any zone independently, with auto ducking as required.

Audio is received in analogue form by the BLU-100, processed internally and sent to the Crown DCi amplifiers driving the systems, using HARMAN’s BLU-Link digital audio bus.

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NAV used HARMAN’s latest HiQnet Audio Architect software for all required programming (including the Crown Amplifiers) making integration between devices seamless. “Using Audio Architect, design of the control panel was simple and linked very easily to the BLU-100,” continued Tim Cottam. “Given the design and layout of the control panels, the venue staff found assigning sources to zones very straightforward.”

In summary, he praised the design and product support provided by Sound Technology, including remote support for any programming issues.

“We were also really impressed with the recommended products, right through the project. Being able to source all of the equipment from one supplier was hugely beneficial and the integration between all these products made a complex installation very straightforward.

“Ultimately this led to two very successful installations and a very satisfied client, who commented on the systems excellent sound quality and its ease of use.”


  • Indoor five-a-side arenas upgrade with HARMAN
  • Swindon and Birmingam

Project Team

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