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Friends Arena team discusses PSA nomination

The team responsible for the installation at Sweden’s national football stadium is one of the Installation Team of Year finalists in the Pro Sound Awards. We caught up with two of the team members.

One of the finalists in the Installation Team of the Year category in the Pro Sound Awards is the team behind the design and installation of the audio system at Friends Arena, the Swedish national football stadium just outside Stockholm. The award nomination cites consultants Steve Liddle and Ingmar Olsson; James Hurst, technical director of integrator LBI Projects; and David Howe of Bosch Prosound UK, who designed the control system GUIs.

When we spoke to him last week, James Hurst told us that the team was delighted to have made the final four for the award: “I spoke to the guys and everyone was very pleased. We’re a team that’s split geographically, but we do keep in touch. The consensus was that it’s great news.”

LBI Projects is currently “very busy pricing on a number of very large projects,” he said. While he wasn’t able to name them, he said that “our approach will be fairly similar to the Friends Arena – they’re integrated projects, which is our main area of expertise. We’re finding that that niche is working for us and generating quite a lot of interest – fingers crossed that brings us some more business!”

David Howe, whose work in designing the control GUIs for the stadium “made Bosch very appealing to LBI as a solution for Friends Arena,” according to Hurst, has just left Bosch to set up his own company, Audomation Software. “It’s similar to the sort of work I did for Friends Arena, but that was a very specific, bespoke package. The idea behind the new company is to capitalise on that and produce something a bit more generic, more useful for other control situations,” he told us.

Howe has a number of prospective customers in the shape of LBI Projects and other companies he worked with at Bosch. (“We’ll continue to work together with David whenever possible – because it’s a pleasure, apart from anything else – and the quality of what he does is good,” Hurst confirmed.)

However, “probably the first six months at least will mainly be spent on development work,” Howe explained.

While the systems that he will be working on will potentially be quite diverse in application, Howe believes that they have similar basic requirements. “The customer really just wants a simplified user interface for what can be quite complex systems in the background,” he said.

Audomation Software’s solutions will be off-the-shelf software for smaller, simpler projects, but “it’s also the intention to have some customisability or some bespoke work for the larger projects – large theatres or stadiums for instance. The actual framework can be the same for different projects – the communications, the talking to different devices on the network, can be generic across multiple types of projects,” he explained.

PA/VA systems in stadiums will be Howe’s initial focus “because that’s the market I know and understand, but hopefully I can open it up to a much wider marketplace of installations in all sectors. These days everything’ s got to be computer-controlled and have an IP address, so the sky’s the limit in that respect!”

Tickets for the Pro Sound Awards are priced at just £45. Email Sarah Harris for further information, or call her on +44 (0)20 7354 6001.