Although during the next 18 months the Coca-Cola Championship team look set to vacate the ground which has been home for the past 50 years, the upgrade nevertheless became essential, according to ESL's Mike Glover.

"When Southend United were promoted to the Championship attendances increased, and the club started to present entertainment such as dancing girls - both pre-match and during the interval. But all the club had was an ancient 100v horn system - completely inadequate for the purpose or for music playback."

During the close season the club decided it was no longer economical to keep hiring in supplementary equipment from ESL on match days (including monitors around the perimeter of the pitch), and commercial manager Brian Wheeler approached Glover for something more permanent.

Wheeler himself says that over a three-year period the gate has grown from around 3,500 to a massive 10,000, and as one of the match day announcers, equipped with two new Sennheiser wireless mics, he is responsible for broadcasting messages and getting the ground safely evacuated after the match.

"The old system was 10-15 years old and sounding very tinny. But the enhanced intelligibility and even distribution now means this can be done safely. I know [the crowds] can hear me everywhere in the ground because as soon as the exit protocols are announced post-match, I can see them starting to mobilise."

He added that one of the pre-requisites of the Turbosound system was its interoperability with the new rig, which will eventually go into their new 22,000 seater stadium, complete with executive suites, around 2009.

But at Roots Hall, in each of the two main stands six TCS-121CW loudspeakers from the TCS Compact series, have been mounted under the roof in clustered pairs, along with two single TCS-121CW in each corner. In the two-tier stands behind each goal further arrayable clusters are mounted. While the home end is reinforced by two single TCS-121CW the same is not true at the away end, where the visiting supporters have to make do with the central pair cross-firing in order to gain additional coverage.

"We knew Turbosound was launching the TCS Compact series of weather-resistant enclosures and they tick all the boxes," says Mike. "All are flown on wire ropes from the eye bolts and are very easy to install." Also supplied were two Turbosound floor monitors, which are deployed as necessary for live performance.

Powered by an Allen & Heath XONE:62 taking additional feeds from a Denon DN-D4500 twin CD/MP3 player, amplification is provided by Ecler DPA 1400s. But the secret to the system's efficiency is the DSP, in the form of a BSS Soundweb London BLU-80 processor and BLU-32 break-in/break-out expander providing additional processing power - linked by a fibre network. Both custom-configurable devices feature a dual-redundant CobraNet CM-1 module - and this is one of the bonuses of the system, according to system designer Bob Calvert.

"The reason we used fibre-optic Ethernet connectivity to pass the data and audio is because we couldn't use CAT5 over the vast distance between the two diagonally-facing amp rooms; it also has better electrical isolation, it's interference free and also expandable.

"On top of that it was brilliant to be able to programme the Soundweb by using a wireless laptop to walk the stadium."

 

Wheeler says: "The new sound system has transformed the atmosphere here and has helped the club provide a real family day out - whatever the quality of the football!"

 

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