PA People wins the Grand Prix with MediaMatrix and Bose
AUSTRALIA: The recent Formula One Australian Grand Prix saw The PA People return to the event, providing a comprehensive technical backbone including MediaMatrix for audio distribution and a podium PA comprising Bose loudspeakers. The race was described by Andrew Westacott, CEO of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, as ‘the biggest pop up event in Australia’.
Originally awarded the Formula 1 contract four years ago, the company has since developed a number of techniques for avoiding technical difficulties in a uniquely challenging environment. The 2014 race saw the deployment and maintenance of almost 450 loudspeakers fitted to the race barriers around the 5.3km circuit, with careful engineering in place to protect the installed systems against collisions. ‘Every second speaker was on a separate circuit in case of impact,’ explained project engineer Paul Barrett. ‘That way, we could keep the PA up and running and spread the load over multiple amp channels whilst we fixed any issues.’
The speakers were powered by seven amplifier locations positioned around the track in custom designed ‘huts’. Each housed UPS, amplifiers, network audio bridges and FM tuner backup. Signal distribution was via the AGPC’s fibre-optic network surrounding the track.
All audio distribution, meanwhile, was via MediaMatrix. From the PA People’s main hub – established four weeks prior to race-day – audio was directed to and from MediaMatrix nodes in the seven amplifier huts and network interfaces mounted in Yamaha LS9 digital mixers in the F1 Press and National Press centres. Other network pick-up and drop off points included the National Media Tent, camera positions, The Action Zone and the V8 Supercars area.
‘It would be challenging to manage an event like the GP without using networked DSP,’ commented Mr Barrett. ‘We can pre-build all of the audio routing and intelligence into the system. The MediaMatrix rack is then dropped into our operations room in the main compound and it’s all up and running pretty painlessly.’
Elsewhere, the all-important podium was provided with sound reinforcement comprising long-throw Bose LT4402 Series 2 cabinets suspended from the main compound and projecting to the stands. The hangs were supplemented by Bose 9702s plus further enclosures mounted beneath the podium. A Yamaha LS9 with an SB168-ES stage-box was used for mixing.
Other systems installed and managed during the event included PA horns throughout the pit and garage areas for emergency paging and relays, and 28km of cabling around the barriers described as ‘treated more like a permanent installation’ to avoid failures. Additionally, the main compound was permanently wired with 100v line speaker cabling to built-in ceiling speakers and constant voltage control lines, all patched directly to The PA People operations room.
‘We have a great team of people on site that have been involved with the event since we were awarded the contract,’ commented Matt Kirby, manager of event communications with the PA People. ‘Having a consistent team, who completely understand the nature of the event, and particularly understand the high expectations of quality that come with the Formula One brand, is key to delivering a successful result each and every year.’
‘’Our involvement with the F1 event not only includes the distributed audio system, but we also provide numerous smaller PA systems for the corporate stands, press conferences and localised entertainment activities that occur around the F1 site,’ added project manager Des Williamson. ‘We also provide a 12-screen video-wall installed within race control.’
‘With the Formula One Australian Grand Prix, there are no second chances; it has to run perfectly,’ concluded Craig Moca of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation. ‘The PA People know our event, and they deliver - every time.’