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Radia Ribbons Revitalise the Rose Bowl
When the Rose Bowl was constructed at the start of the millennium, offering a new headquarters for Hampshire County Cricket Club, it offered all the facilities expected of a modern stadium. Shaped like a circular amphitheatre, its flexible capacity of 9,000-plus rose to over 19,000 for the 2006 Twenty20 International between England and Sri Lanka. In addition to offering cricket at the highest level, the stadium also hosts rock concerts and numerous functions and conferences.
But five years after Hampshire played their first county match at the Rose Bowl, there were signs that the public address system was leaving a lot to be desired — particularly in terms of speech intelligibility and even distribution. This is vital, not only for voice evacuation purposes, but for spectators to keep up with the commentaries from the scorer’s boxes.
Rose Bowl plc, the owner of Hampshire Cricket, turned to locally-based installation and hire specialists, BCS Audio for a solution. Their director Dave Shepherd had provided Rose Bowl with pyro and fireworks for special events in the past — and he also knew he could take care of most of the ground’s audio needs from the catalogue of Fuzion plc.
“We have generally tended to use Nexo speakers, and Australian Monitor for the 100V line work,” he said. But it was only when Fuzion’s Technical Sales manager, Jez Hunter, introduced him to the new Radia Pro ribbon drivers, which Fuzon distribute, that the jigsaw was complete.
Hunter set up a site demo whereupon the decision became axiomatic. The old mast-mounted horn systems were removed to be replaced by Radia Pro 1.9ME’s — one mounted high on each of the 20 posts, which are spaced at 25m intervals around the ground’s perimeter. However, on either side of the pavilion, a pair of Radia 1.9ME’s are contra-angled to achieve the critical coverage.
And that is the secret of the Radia 1.9ME. The sound will fire exactly where the long rectangular boxes are pointed, with no spill. They have a lower operating frequency range than conventional loudspeakers — rolling off at 150Hz — and offer incredible linearity with lower distortion.
The 1.9ME is the largest in a family of ribbon drivers from the American manufacturers and five of the shorter 1.3ME’s are sited on the roof by the VIP box.
The proprietary planar design offers significant advantages over conventional systems and the result is a sturdy transducer for professional use that works as a line source radiator. They offer a wide dispersion of 120° in the horizontal plane but vertical dispersion is limited to a 10° angle (5° above top loudspeaker end line and 5° below bottom loudspeaker end line).
Dave Shepherd was positively effusive about the benefits and rued the fact that he had been unable to attend the original demo as a result of touring duties. “The dispersion is very controlled so they fire down only on the required seats,” he says. “There’s an immediate drop-off in level as you move away. In fact they are unbelievably good, with all the properties of a line array, providing massive coverage over huge distances.
Cost advantages were also created by running the system 100V line while Fuzion plc themselves fabricated special weatherised enclosures, using a galvanised, powder-coated box “that fits like a glove” according to Hunter. The transformers have also been custom made specifically for this project.
Finally, with Speakon connectors easily accessible via a trap at the bottom of the pole, the 1.9ME’s are quickly unboltable and demountable using key clamps. “We can clear the whole pitch in around three hours,” says Shepherd.
With an atrium/foyer, six separate conference rooms and two function rooms inside the pavilion, Dave Shepherd has designed the entire real estate into a 17-zone system, dividing the pitch into four (North, South, East and West), which can be independently adjusted depending on wind variables.
The public address is under the management of three Symetrix SymNet DSP devices, which are line-configured, giving a combined 24 inputs and 24 outputs; any live EQ/processing is done via the mic preamps on the small portable sound mixer, for which XLR input points are provided.
In the atrium/foyer there are four flown Nexo PS8’s for background music and occasional speech, run off Nexo’s dedicated PS8 amplifiers.
The two input points also allow the user to select local inputs on the SymNet ARC2 wall remotes, which generally means laptops during presentations. All rooms have satellite TV facilities and are equipped with plasma screens, while background music can be routed to any of the zones via a hard drive.
In all, 11 x ARC2’s are in use, each allowing balanced audio to be sent and received.
In The Richards Room (Conference Room 2) BCS have dipped further into the Fuzion catalogue, choosing four t&m Systems 6.3pa loudspeakers, ceiling-mounted in white, while elsewhere they have used a combination of the highly cost-effective Work IC4 Pros (including the media suite) and Austalian Monitor AMPCS60 Premium ceiling speakers.
Power throughout is provided by a combination of Australian Monitor Synergy SY-1600 (2 x 800W) stereo amplifiers, and SY-6125 (6x 125W) and DCM500 (500W) 100V line transformer amplifiers.
Finding the optimum solution was only one element of BCS’s task; they also had to deskill system operation — in the programming of the ARC2 and up in the scorer’s box. “We needed a custom control for the SymNet with just a great big ‘push to talk’ red button,” says Dave Shepherd. Fortunately, Kelsey Acoustics came to their rescue.
The BCS man says that the club are delighted with both the audibility and coverage of the new public address set-up — crucially that the security mic can now be heard anywhere in the ground, even during the raucous, carnival atmosphere of the Twenty20 matches.
6th September 2006
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