Audio overhaul at Twickenham on show as stadium prepares for Six Nations showdown

This Saturday the world’s eyes will be on Twickenham Stadium in London as it hosts England vs Wales in the Six Nations and shows off its new Harman audio system at the same time.

Twickenham Stadium collaborated with Vanguardia, Clair Global Integration Europe and Sound Technology to complete an audio upgrade project designed to enhance the fan experience at the 82,000-seat venue and adhere to modern safety standards with the support of JBL Professional loudspeakers and Crown amplifiers.

The stadium’s 20-year-old system was no longer supporting that aim so the RFU turned to Vanguardia to create a sound system that would offer the high sound pressure levels it required for the entertainment element alongside the intelligibility vital in a life safety PA/VA solution.

“The opening line to the team was that it had to be a compliant PA/VA system,” explained Steven Carver, venue project manager, RFU. “We had to make sure we were achieving British standard recommendations within the stadium bowl. Without the stadium PA system to actually broadcast those emergency messages, obviously the stadium couldn’t function, so it’s one of the key parts of the stadium.”

“Life safety is absolutely critical,” added Mark Lynch, executive director, RFU. “That’s the fundamental part of delivering and running any major stadium. But the fan experience is becoming more and more important. Creating that fan experience through audio is key, and it goes beyond rugby. We do concerts here, we do conferences and events and actually changing this place to make it a really multi-purpose stadium is underpinned by a quality audio system.”

The system recommended for the stadium is based on JBL Professional’s VLA Compact line array solution. This line array benefits from the premium components found in JBL’s renowned touring systems, but in an installation-friendly package that is IP-rated to remove any worries about damage from water ingress or other weather concerns. The VLA-C clusters are supported by AWC cabinets, which have been used as the under-balcony fills to ensure maximum coverage throughout the space. Finally, PD6322s have also been supplied to cover the pitch when the stadium is hosting events.

“For us it was about trying to get a quality audio experience for every single fan in every single seat, that is where JBL came in and the product has been absolutely amazing,” reflected Lynch. “When we heard it for the first time, the smiles on the faces of myself and the entire team were absolutely brilliant. You can see it from the fans, and the feedback we get now from fans about the overall experience led by those JBL speakers is unbelievable.”

Power for the solution is courtesy of Crown Professional’s DCi series amplifiers using the DriveCore which provides high power but very efficient amplification. These have been networked over Dante to provide audio distribution from the centralized DSP solution out into the remote rack rooms. One of the major advantages of the Crown amplifiers has been the support they provide to the life safety element of the system. The stadium needed to ensure that it had the ability to monitor the integrity of the loudspeaker circuits, and that is one of the key functionalities of the DCi.

While there were a lot of elements to work through for both the design and installation of the new solution, the end result is a performance that everyone involved is very proud of.

“It really is a fantastic system,” noted Joe East, project director, Sound Technology. “I’ve been fortunate enough to come to a couple of games and just listening to comments from other spectators along the stands, it is clear that it has made a really significant improvement to that matchday experience.”

“It’s phenomenal, it has a really punchy sound and clear announcements that lead to a great atmosphere,” said Daryl Prasad, Vanguardia.

“It sounds really good and everyone is happy with it,” said Eddie Thomas, Clair Global Integration Europe.

“To give them that audio experience alongside of everything else that the RFU and Twickenham do so well, it’s fantastic to work alongside them and we’ve very pleased with the end results,” concluded Justin Hankey, sales manager, Installed Sound EMEA, Harman Professional Solutions.

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