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In 2021 the club decided to upgrade the audio and PAVA systems throughout the ground and enlisted RH Consulting to assist. The project was put out to tender and Solotech was subsequently awarded the contract.
The existing audio system at Grace Road was over 20 years old and provided little more than single control to address the whole site, primarily with vocal messages. The requirements of an audio system in sports arenas and stadia have changed a great deal in that time and fall into two separate but linked areas – entertainment and crowd safety.
Music and entertainment increasingly play a key part in sporting fixtures, so the system must be able to deliver high fidelity audio at high SPL (sound pressure level) while at the same time provide PAVA (Public Address Voice Alarm), critical for ensuring crowd safety in the event of an emergency.
Solotech has a wealth of experience in delivering bespoke solutions for large projects including Tottenham Hotspur, Aston Villa and Royal Ascot. Key to this contract was the company’s ability to scale the project to meet the requirements within the budget available.
The Solotech solution is based around a scalable QSC Q-Sys platform. This gives complete control via a touch screen, allowing music and announcements to be controlled and routed to multiple zones within the ground. Pre-recorded announcements are also available in the event of an emergency for crowd control and evacuation. The scalability and software based infrastructure allow future changes and updates to be made quickly and simply.
As part of the package, Solotech can access and monitor the system remotely. This means simple fixes and updates can be carried out without the need for an engineer to attend, or if a fault occurs, it can be diagnosed, and an engineer dispatched (with parts if necessary) often before the site is even aware of a problem.
Paul Malpas, Business Development Manager at Solotech undertook the project management of the design and installation: “One of the key challenges we faced was working in a live site rather than a new build. The clients main concern was getting the infrastructure, particularly cabling installed to all areas of the ground. We brought in our Integrations team at the design phase and they were able to allay any fears, confident that they could find a solution.”
Roland Hemming, principal at RH Consulting commented, “Working with Solotech has been a real pleasure. With respect to Leicestershire County Cricket Club, Grace Road is a small stadium yet Solotech treated it like any other stadium project. It was great to see that approach in spite of them being used to working on projects more than ten times the size of this.”
“The solution brings so many benefits for the club. There’s the peace of mind that the system is compliant with the current regulations and will perform in the event of an emergency. Then there’s the greatly improved audio experience, particularly in the hospitality areas. The system is capable of delivering to sizeable events without the need to supplement the system, All these factors greatly aid the club’s revenue stream.”
Paul Malpas summed up, “This has been a great project to be involved with and working with RH Consulting and Leicestershire CCC has been great. The finished project not only ensures crowd safety but greatly enhances their experience. It will provide them with great performance for many years to come.”