TG Baker (Sound) has carried out a major upgrade of the main sound system at Southampton FC’s St. Mary’s Stadium, using JBL’s purpose designed PD series loudspeakers.
Supplied by Sound Technology Ltd., UK and Ireland distributors of the HARMAN PRO brands, they replaced the previous ground-based system originally installed by them when the 32,508-capacity stadium was built back in 2001.
The upgrade was forced by a recognition that after 15 years the bowl loudspeakers were showing signs of external deterioration due to the elements, and the club also believed that the general match day experience could be improved to entice the viewing public into the stadium earlier on a match day.
TG Baker (Sound) was first approached in late 2015 to provide a quotation to upgrade the seating area loudspeakers. Acoustic specialists Vanguardia were introduced to provide a specification document for the full PA and front end control system, and in a competitive tender, TG Baker (Sound) submitted the successful bid.
The company’s project manager Barry Paterson recalls that his company considered a number of possible manufacturers’ loudspeakers. “However, we decided that the JBL / Crown solution, along with an ASL voice alarm system, met all our performance and functionality requirements. We evaluated various JBL loudspeaker designs using EASE simulation software and Sound Technology verified the loudspeaker and amplifier combination.”
He continued, “As the project required a very fast turnaround, and having had previous experience with JBL loudspeakers on a number of stadium projects, we knew that a solution could be delivered and installed in the time available.”
The EASE prediction software also enabled TG Baker (Sound) to optimise system performance, including setting the best cluster splay angles. The final design uses 22 clusters which are spaced almost equidistant, but with slight differentials in the corners due to the available fixing positions. Each cluster comprises a pair of weatherised Precision Directivity PD6322/95 WRX loudspeakers and an AE Series ASB6128-WRX subwoofer. These are fixed to the underside of the stand roof lips using bespoke, certified bracketry commissioned by TG Baker (Sound).
The PD6322 full range, three-way loudspeakers are designed for applications requiring high output sensitivity such as this, as they offer excellent pattern control and low frequency extension to 40 Hz, while the ASB6128-WRX extends this further to 28Hz.
Crown DCi-4 600N amplifiers are assigned to the Mid/High sections, with DCi-42400N 4-channel amplifiers driving the low frequency and six I-Tech IT4x3500HD amplifiers powering the subwoofers. The DSP in the amplifiers was used to tune and process the loudspeakers.
In addition to improving the match day experience the target for the new sound system was to achieve a minimum intelligibility rating of 0.5. Barry Paterson says that while EASE predicted an STI of around 0.55 average they were pleased to achieve this in reality. He also confirmed that the system has full redundancy and duplicate power supplies to meet the requirements of BS7827:2011.
On completion TG Baker (Sound) provided full operator training and will shortly provide a maintenance package that will hopefully include remote access for system diagnostics.
Reflecting on the new integrated PAVA sound system, Barry Paterson says, “We have installed a sound system that we are extremely proud of which meets all client requirements and expectations. We also hope that our changes provide a better match day experience for supporters and the football club for many years to come.”
In addition to replacing the seating loudspeakers the control room was upgraded to include a touchscreen microphone that enables them to pre-record match day and forthcoming event messages and replay them into any zones with absolute clarity.