It was clear to Tim Speight and Jon Berry, of sound contractor RG Jones Sound Engineering (suppliers of sound systems to the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTCC)), that installing a distributed system would not be a viable option: the limitations on possible loudspeaker positions and cable routes would have compromised the performance of a distributed system so much as to render it useless. So an innovative approach was required.
Jon Berry explained: “We started thinking about possibilities for a point source system_ that was capable of throwing the 100 metres across the bowl whilst at the same time containing the sound within the bowl to prevent noise nuisance to neighbouring courts and residents.” Having used Duran Audio’s DDS beam steering technology at St Paul’s Cathdral, the installers asked Duran to predict what its AXYS Target and Intellivox ranges might be able to offer – and were convinced by the figures that came back.
A demonstration was arranged on Number One Court – Centre Court being unavailable – to the AELTCC, its umpires and the BBC to show what the temporary installation could achieve. “The demo was a success and all parties agreed that this should be the solution for Wimbledon 2007,” said Tim Speight.
“For the installation a total of thirty AXYS Target U16 mid/hi units and four AXYS Intellivox DS1608’s were installed,” he continued. “The area taken up by the loudspeakers was very compact (helped by the built-in DSP and amplification) and the system was invisible to the untrained observer. The fact that the U16s were effectively ground stacked at the back of the east stand made the rigging very easy; all we needed was a small enclosure to protect the units from the inevitable rain. The result was very impressive and there were several comments from officials that this was the best sound that had ever been achieved in Centre Court.”
“The great thing about the Target and Intellivox units,” commented Berry, “is they maximise the throw that you would get from a conventional line array whilst minimising unwanted spill and reflections.” This made it possible to achieve the three major design goals for the system: keeping sound as away from the umpire’s microphone and the playing surface; minimising reflections from the press boxes opposite the arrays and spill to other courts and residents; and, of course, ensuring that all spectators heard the announcements clearly.