Harman Professional HiQnet™ Audio System Scores Highly At English Premiership Side Burnley F.C. Stadium
06 October 2009, Burnley, England
Designed by AMS Acoustics and installed by ETA Sound, new audio system is world’s first deployment of Harman HiQnet™ System Architect V 2.0.
As Burnley F.C. gain promotion to England’s elite, new fully integrated PA/VA compliant Harman Professional public address system supplied by Sound Technology Ltd. puts Turf Moor system in the same league as Europe’s greatest stadium systems.
BURNLEY, England — Harman International Industries (NYSE: HAR), a leading provider of branded audio and infotainment electronics for the home, the car, and sound professionals, today announced the successful completion of an advanced networked audio system at Turf Moor, the stadium of English Premiership football club, Burnley F.C. The system was sold and supplied by Harman's distributor in the UK, Sound Technology Ltd. Having recently gained promotion to English football’s top tier for the first time in 33 years, it was fitting that Burnley F.C’s first clash would be with reigning champions, Manchester United and with such a seeming-massive challenge in hand, Burnley F.C.’s managers sought to effect a 12th man home advantage at Turf Moor. They engaged acoustic consultants, AMS Acoustics and integrators ETA Sound to design and install a fully integrated PA/VA compliant public address system that would put Turf Moor system in the same league as Europe’s greatest stadium systems. The resulting system, designed and controlled using Harman HiQnet System Architect™ and featuring components from Harman Professional brands including JBL, Crown and BSS Audio, received a rousing reception, was covered widely in the local press and, most importantly, a famous David vs. Goliath victory was recorded.
AMS Acoustics had already implemented an earlier first phase upgrade last season to bring three stands into VA compliance. During the course of this exercise the capture of a full range of measurements was required and the resultant data, after analysis, was used as the cornerstone for an entirely new design the following year. During the short closed season, AMS returned with ETA Sound to implant a complete Harman Pro solution, using a fiber-based signal network that would extend to the three main stands — the North (James Hargreaves) stand, the East (Jimmy McIlroy) stand and South (Bob Lord) stand.
Tasked with supplying a voice alarm-compliant system with high STI (Speech Transmission Index), AMS Acoustics’ project designer Helen Goddard made her product selection with care. Her design enabled the voice evacuation system to double up to meet on-pitch entertainment requirements. The company needed to achieve peak level in an emergency scenario, related to crowd noise. “We knew the system would have to achieve a maximum of 102-105dB(A) and this meant we needed to use loudspeakers that would be able to achieve these kind of levels without going into compression,” Goddard explained.
First, the JBL loudspeakers were set a number of challenges — including a performance evaluation in AMS Acoustics’ anechoic chamber, even to the point of a destruction test. This was supported by Sound Technology, the Harman Professional distributors, who provided all the necessary back-up. The acousticians then set about designing the control, signal path and zoning matrix, opting for an integrated Harman Professional package based on system optimization and cost-efficiency. “As the budget was quite tight this was the logical way to go,” stated Goddard.
Crown CTs amplifiers, fitted PIP-USP3 speaker processing units, BSS Audio Soundweb London DSP devices, with BLU-link, running on a fiber backbone — and independent HP ProCurve network switches across all rack locations — form the system architecture. Media converters are provided for the BLU-link data and HP GBICS-LC, providing fiber interfacing on the HP ProCurve switches, and the infrastructure provides one dual redundant Ethernet network as well as an independent ring for the BSS AUDIO BLU-Link audio transport.
In this fully-redundant design, UPS systems provide all the power conditioning and mains support in the event of a power failure. The installation was also notable for the advanced DSP programming skills of ID Networks’ Martin Barbour, using the attributes of Harman Professional’s new System Architect v2.00 software — the first use anywhere in the world. “Given that this was a fast fit job it saved me huge amounts of time,” Barbour said.
Eddie Thomas of ETA Sound worked closely with Tom Williams, Sound Technology’s acoustician. In fact the latter had been closely involved from the outset of the project — taking part in the initial concept discussions with AMS Acoustics, supporting the equipment testing and measurement procedures, setting up the load monitoring — and finally assisting with system commissioning.
In total 16 JBL AM6315/95 (90° x 50°) full range loudspeakers with rotatable horn and 12 AM6200/95 mid-high loudspeakers have been used. In the South Stand JBL AM6315’s have been deployed, mounted horizontally to counteract sightline restrictions, with the horn rotated. Covering the East stand are three clusters, each with JBL AM6315/95 in the vertical plane and JBL AM6200/64 covering the lower raked seating (90°x 50°). In the North stand there are five similar clusters of the same, with the JBL AM6315/95 mounted at the top in the vertical plane, and JBL AM6200/64 bolted under to cover the lower rake. An additional four JBL AM6200/64s (60°x40°) are also suspended on the north stand, specifically to provide pitch coverage.
Each of the three equipment rack locations features two HP ProCurve switches, two BSS Audio Soundweb London BLU-160 DSP’s and Socomec UPS in each room (as well as the two fiber converter interfaces for BLU-Link). Says Barbour: “Two BLU-160s in each location gives us more than enough DSP — they are hugely powerful devices.”
The network services a total of 23 PA zones although these are logically broken down into stands, concourses and turnstile areas. The BSS AUDIO Ausio Soundweb London devices are configured for a maximum of 72 outputs and between 24 inputs.
Barbour explains, “Originally this was to have been a CAT5 installation but when the client moved the rack locations this took us outside the Ethernet 100m range — so we suddenly had to rethink the networking aspect.” Eddie Thomas’s team then designed and arranged a fiber network to be provided and installed within two weeks.
“Installing BLU-Link at this stage provides us with the audio routing headroom we need when the expansion works commence,” Barbour says. “The channel count and ease of use made it an obvious decision.”
The majority of London Architect’s Logic programming is dedicated to the graphical user interface and voice evacuation autonomy, which is permanently monitored. This allows any of the evacuation messages or microphones to be routed to any of the PA zones, while in each rack location there are also local access microphones as a final tier of security. Each output has its own independent gains and EQ with three volume settings — low (dropping the system down to 85dB), match day level (which runs at 100dB) and the emergency maximum level (of 102-105dBA).
Martin Barbour says that running both the new London Architect v2.06 and Harman HiQnet System Architect v2 software offered huge advantages. A notable feature of the new Soundweb system designer is the Wire Tags feature. “This feature comes into its own with complex and vast DSP or Logic designs. It enables me to keep the design tidy, easy to follow, and when used in combination with macros, easily expandable.
“And in terms of stability and performance you don’t get any more pressure than a visit from Manchester United FC on your opening home game, with the world’s first System Architect v2.0 install! The system performed flawlessly, and thanks to the time saving attributes of both software applications, we were able to fit the demands to the very tight deadlines.”
His adoption of the new System Architect software was particularly inspired and was the result of having been engaged as a Harman Pro developer partner for the past 12 months. “So we knew well ahead of time what SDIG was planning with its upcoming version of System Architect,” he states.
However, it wasn’t until final beta testing during June / July, where he saw their work in a tangible form, that it became obvious how suited this major update would be for an upcoming stadium project which had an extremely tight time scale.
“I presented the idea of using System Architect v2.0 on the Burnley FC project to Adam Holladay at SDIG who helped by providing an interface with the R&D team as we ironed out some small issues,” he recalls. “As the driving force behind the new workflow based approach to System Architect, Adam was best placed to translate my observations and comments in to some last-minute enhancements ready for the final release.
“During the design stage, my first impressions were that the user interface was more refined and it was obvious that a great deal of thought had been put into how the software would be used. The new layout guides you through a number of basic steps in much the same way that a software configuration wizard could but without the restrictions often associated with multiple choice Q&A based setup guides.
“With the new workflow-based design approach of System Architect v2.0 we can associate the amplifier channels with physical and logical areas within the venue. This allows the software to automatically create default control panels for each logical zone, which would otherwise have had to be built manually.”
System Architect was used to configure the CTs amplifiers across three rack rooms covering three stands and the pitch. Each stand is divided into a number of zones depending upon its size and we were able to quickly build up a collection of panels for either complete stand or zoned control to aid with system setup and commissioning. Multi-parameter assignments and filtering controls allowed us to implement global buttons to activate each of the fault monitoring status reports which was far quicker than going in to each amplifier and activating these controls manually.
What this provided was a topographical view of the venue in a logical form with direct access to a simple user control panel for every area of the venue. Devices are contained in representations of the real rack rooms and individual DSP or amplifier channels are associated with the correct parts of the venue, all without manually building any control panels or links. “This approach basically takes away lots of the legwork required to achieve simple and consistent room control for distributed audio systems,” he says.
Many other features, already found in prior releases of System Architect, have also been reworked — including the ability to associate many parameters with custom controls. This has been made more user friendly through easy access to all devices and new filtering controls.
“We now have a great starting point upon which we can build as the stadium develops further over the next 12-24 months,” says Martin Barbour.
“The exciting thing about System Architect v2 is not just what they have now, but what they have laid the foundations for in the future,” he continues. “System Architect v2 approaches system design with a new perspective, it replaces the need to manually translate physical devices to logical areas. It subtly guides you to a common starting point where you have full access to the critical controls for your venue. It makes the creation of more complete and user friendly control interfaces faster and more efficient.
“In fact if Harman Pro continue to make such significant time saving upgrades in each major release, I’m going to have to start finding more projects to keep me busy....”
Harman International Industries, Incorporated (www.harman.com), designs, manufactures and markets a wide range of audio and infotainment products for the automotive, consumer and professional markets. Harman International maintains a strong presence in the Americas, Europe and Asia, and employs more than 11,000 people worldwide. The Harman International family of brands includes AKG®, Audioaccess®, Becker®, BSS AUDIO®, Crown®, dbx®, DigiTech®, Harman Kardon®, Infinity®, JBL®, Lexicon®, Mark Levinson®, Revel®, QNX®, Soundcraft® and Studer®. Harman International’s stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “NYSE: HAR.”
About ID Networks
ID Networks was formed in 2006 to cater for the growing demand for highly professional design services in the DSP and Networked Audio markets. With a strong background covering many of the leading DSP and Amplifier products as well as networked audio transports, ID Networks has cemented itself as a leading provider for networked audio system design through some of the most iconic venues across the World including Wembley National Stadium, London’s O2 Arena and the Atlantis Hotel and Resort in Dubai. Based in the United Kingdom and handling projects all across Europe and the Middle East, ID Networks is set to tackle the largest and most complex Systems Integration and Programming projects.”