V-Series lights up the Pride Park experience.

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Pride Park Stadium is home to English Football League side Derby County Football Club as well as host to a number of international matches and the FA Women’s Cup Final since 2000. With a capacity of nearly 34,000, its status as one of England’s leading sports stadia is in no doubt, yet in recent years the performance of its ageing sound reinforcement system had raised some questions.

Seeking a replacement for the existing infrastructure, which at nearly ten years old was nearing end of life, the club’s Chief Technical Officer, Stuart Fisher, approached leading audio and AV consultancy RH Consulting. As the result of a tender process involving five leading loudspeaker brands, d&b won the order.

“We were asked to provide a system that would be capable of fully tantalizing the senses,” explains Steve Jones of d&b audiotechnik Education and Application Support. “The club is very ambitious about what it can achieve and is keen to think outside the box in every area. “In terms of the new sound system it quickly became clear that the club wanted a system not only to deliver announcements and background music effectively, they were also looking for that more subjective feeling of, ‘this is a great sound system that will engage people and make them want to have a party’.”

The exacting performance brief and project budget prohibited the use of a line array solution at an early stage of the design process – the cost being proportional to the multiple elements needed to achieve the desired vertical coverage. Jones reverted to the then new point source cabinet from the V-Series, the Vi7P. Electroacoustic modelling proved only three cabinets per cluster were required to meet the PAVA specification and allowed for the inclusion of a Vi-SUB to extend the performance to low frequencies.

For Pride Park the advantages of a point source solution were clear: it would take up less space and still exceed the intelligibility and SPL requirements stipulated by the regulating bodies. For a project where minimizing weight and aesthetic intrusion were important priorities, the Vi7P ticked every box.

With both Hemming and Northwood closely involved with UK and European standards bodies, it’s no surprise that the new installation offers full compliance for PAVA use. Pride Park is also one of the first UK venues to comply with FIFA’s sound requirements for international stadiums. These include a stipulation that the system will provide maximum continuous sound levels of not less than 100 dB(A) and peak sound levels of at least 105 dB(A), with deviations in overall direct sound levels across the spectator seating not surpassing +/-3.5 dB(A).

“I spent a lot of time after the first match chatting to fans and everyone I spoke to remarked upon the improved audibility and clarity of the speech,” confirms Jones. “It’s evident that the system has set the venue up very nicely for the long term future, both in terms of its core football commitments and potential entertainment events.”

“It’s a very powerful and versatile system, and it really is one of those cases where you need to go and hear it for yourself,” concludes Northwood. The club’s CTO, Stuart Fisher, agrees wholeheartedly. “We are extremely happy with the d&b solution, as well as the support they have provided during the project - and continue to provide now. It gives us the best acoustic solution in our league and arguably in the UK too, having achieved superb voice measurements. The quality of the system is simply outstanding.“

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