Peavey's MediaMatrix at Watford FC

Friday, 26 October 2012
Peavey's MediaMatrix at Watford FCVicarage Road Stadium, home of Watford FC and Saracens rugby team
UK - Vicarage Road Stadium has been home to Watford Football Club since 1922, and Premiership Rugby high-flyers, Saracens, for the last 15 years. Over the past few decades, the ground has also played host to a number of major music concerts, most famously perhaps, the several headlined by its world famous piano-playing former-owner, Reginald Dwight (AKA Sir Elton John).

As part of its recent ground renovation plan, the stadium needed to improve the quality of its sound system, and opted to install a new integrated Public Address and Voice Alarm (PAVA) system. As well as adhering to a number of crucial life-safety standards, the system needed to provide excellent vocal clarity, and be loud enough to overcome the crowd volume.

Consultant for this project, Roland Hemming, says he had no hesitation in specifying a Peavey MediaMatrix system, as it was perfect for the job in hand.

"The previous system was an old 'Voice Alarm only' system, which meant the quality was functional as opposed to good, so it couldn't achieve anywhere near the performance we wanted," he explains. "It was absolutely imperative that the new system had a much greater overall volume and clarity to it, so the spectators could hear everything much clearer. That's why I went for Nion."

Unlike most football stadia, Vicarage Road currently utilises just three stands, as its redundant East Stand is still awaiting renovation. Using MediaMatrix will mean a smooth extension to the audio networking system once the new East Stand is fully operational.

"Because Nion is programmable, when the club finally builds its fourth stand, slotting in an extra Nion will be very easy," Hemming says. "And that's the beauty of using Nion - its flexibility; you really can do whatever you like with it."

Some 250 loudspeakers were deployed for this installation, which was carried out by E-Mech Entertainment Engineering. Hemming says it was a fairly straightforward install due to the amount of effort and engineering that went into it before work got underway. He specified a number of Lab.gruppen PLM amplifiers, which are being driven directly via Dante from two Nion nEs.

James Eade, director of E-Mech Entertainment Engineering, says the most complex element of this installation was getting the analogue backup correct; this was made more straightforward thanks to Nion's topology and DSP capabilities.

"The reliability of the Nion meant we were totally comfortable with the analogue backup as the likelihood of ever needing to use it is in fact very remote," he says. "And it can be activated with the single press of a button on the paging mic, regardless of whether the network system is up and running or not."

Hemming says that although this isn't a revolutionary new system that's going to change the world, Watford Football Club now has a PAVA system worth shouting about.

"Essentially, this is now a Championship Football Club with a Premiership-standard PAVA system," he concludes. "It's a very nice, flexible, and adaptable system, which will suit the club perfectly when it comes to reconstructing its East Stand."

(Jim Evans)

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