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Back of the net: Inside Celtic Park’s Bosch audio upgrade

The home of Scottish football giants Celtic FC recently underwent an audio upgrade courtesy of Bosch ProSound UK. PSNEurope spoke to the company's Stuart McKay to find out more…

Stuart McKay, permanent installation and AV consultant for Electro-Voice and Dynacord, Bosch Pro Sound UK, has hailed the “massive difference” an audio upgrade has made to Celtic Park in a conversation with PSNEurope.

Home of Celtic Football Club, Glasgow’s Celtic Park is Scotland’s largest football stadium, boasting a capacity of some 60,000. In a bid to upgrade the stadium experience, the legendary football club approached PEL Services Limited, an electronics engineering company based in Northolt, north west London, to design and install upgrades to the venue’s public address and emergency sound systems.

With a robust stadium-wide IT network and existing public address infrastructure already in place, PEL advised the selection of Bosch Praesideo digital Public Address and Emergency Sound System with Electro-Voice pro audio loudspeakers in order to improve coverage, clarity and fidelity within the main bowl area of the stadium. On account of both systems being interfaced to the Dante, both the Bosch Praesideo system and all Electro-Voice loudspeakers are monitored and controlled remotely via Electro-Voice N8000 NetMax digital matrix controllers.

“The 20-year-old sound system already installed in the stadium was falling behind the other major clubs and the modern expectations of the fans, especially in the largest North Stand and NE and NW corners,” McKay explains. “Many options were considered, including line arrays, but it was felt that the best solution would be the EN54 compliant Electro-Voice Innovation Series particularly the EVH15 and the EVF15 in the permanent installation finish.

“When the stadium was modelled by Phil Huffer from Acoustics Plus it was decided that the horn loaded EVH would provide the SPL and STI required for the longest throws which were covering pitch side and the lower seating. The front loaded EVF was installed to reach the middle and highest seats in the stand. EV CPS installation amplifiers are feeding all of the new loudspeakers for the North, NE and NW corners as well as the existing speakers in the other parts of the stadium. They are being fed from BSS Soundweb processors and EV Netmax processors. In the event of an evacuation, the EN54 Netmax processors bypass the BSS and feed the system directly. Bosch Praesideo is also looking after the smaller back of house and concourse areas of the stadium.”

He continues: “It has made a massive difference; so much so the fans in the other stands are complaining that their stands don’t sound as good as the North stand and they want them upgrading. They are expecting to install more EVH and EVF for the other stands on the next phase.”

The project began with the installation of the Bosch Praesideo public address and emergency sound system, serving what Vic Swain, engineering director for PEL Vic Swain, refers to as the “back of house” area: the internal portions of the stadium, including concourses, turnstiles, restrooms, and offices. The stadium system is based on dual Praesideo network controllers with an audio expander interface and six strategically placed call stations. The 100V audio system utilises legacy installed loudspeakers, all of which were tested and upgraded with Bosch line supervision sets. This was designed to allow Praesideo to check all speakers for proper line operation. The system is powered by 22 Bosch power amplifiers with onboard DSP modules.

Meanwhile, PEL called upon Croydon-based acoustic consultant Acoustics Plus to advise on deployment of the Electro-Voice loudspeakers. Research for the project included recording SPL levels throughout a game, documenting sonic requirements and using computer modeling to map optimal locations and dispersion patterns for full coverage. Aimed down from beneath the roof, the system uses a combination of frontloaded EVF-1152D and horn-loaded EVH-1152D.

“Celtic always wants to do the very best for their fans – in addition to meeting the evacuation system legal standard for Speech Transmission Index,” said Swain. “They also wanted it to sound just as good when the place is really rocking during a big match. These EV speakers accomplish that with ease, even in problem areas. We had structural engineers and riggers working closely with the acoustic consultant to make final adjustments. A lot of preparation, but on the day the speakers were hung and aimed, it was extremely quick and accurate.”

Electro-Voice CPS series power amplifiers, two N8000 NetMax DSP matrix units, and a redundant fiber ring were installed as infrastructure support for the full stadium system. To date, the new loudspeakers are in place above the north stands and adjacent corner areas. Future phases will complete the installation above the south stands, adjacent corner areas, and west and east stands behind the goals.