Upgrading the PA system at the Centre Bell – home to the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens and a venue for a variety of live events – turned to consulting firm Trizart Alliance, who selected an EAW system that was procured through SFM in Canada

The Centre Bell is regularly reconfigured into any of six seating formats – ranging from a 2,000-capacity amphitheatre to a 21,000-capacity NHL arena. EAW was chosen by way of a competitive bidding process commissioned by Centre Bell A1 tech, Jesse Leveillé. The system was able to meet the wide range of applications and audio challenges at the venue and includes Anna Loudspeakers and Otto Subwoofers from the ADAPTive line, along with MKD1096 Loudspeakers and UXA4410 Amplifiers. The system, now fully implemented, provides the power and flexibility the venue needs as one of the busiest arenas in North America.

Centre Bell arenaLeveillé’s introduction to EAW’s new ADAPTive series was during a concert at the Centre Bell for Tom Petty’s 40th Anniversary tour in 2017. ‘EAW was brought in for the show that FOH engineer Robert Scoville was mixing,’ says Leveillé. ‘Scoville is a master behind the console and what we were hearing was absolutely fantastic. The EAW kit was really impressive, especially in terms of its steering capabilities, sound quality and coverage. We knew it would be a great fit for us.’

Once the Leveillé-led project committee selected EAW, the task of installing it was given to integration company, Solotech. The project was broken into two phases so that the space could remain operational throughout the upgrade. The first involved the installation of 22 MKD1096’s to cover the upper bowl with four additional MKDs to cover the ice, along with seven UXA4410 Amplifiers. The second was centred on covering the rest of the bowl, which involved 96 Anna Loudspeakers and 36 Otto Subwoofers.

Trizart Alliance, who continually maintains the ceiling grid, only had to reinforce the framing for the hoists to accommodate the weight of the Anna and Otto enclosures since they have all amplification and processing onboard. Leveillé also found the size of the EAW system to be advantageous.

‘The EAW system had a small footprint, which in my case was paramount because the new system had to fit within the existing ceiling walking grid to avoid completely reengineering and redesigning it,’ he says. ‘The footprint of the EAW boxes were perfect for our space, as they delivered the coverage and clarity we were looking for. One of the things I really like is its remote-control directivity, as I can easily and digitally reconfigure the coverage for full or half bowl events.’

Another feature Leveillé found useful and a factor in its selection is EAW’s self-healing and redundancy capabilities, as the project required redundancy in every component of the system.

Centre Bell arena‘I think this is one of the most undersold features of the Annas and Ottos,’ he says. ‘We ran some tests at the Centre Bell where we forced the kit to simulate a shutdown, so I knew how to react if it happened during an event. It worked so well; we couldn’t even tell which box was down. The fact that in the rare instance you have an issue in the middle of a show, you can hit a button and it is completely healed – that is amazing. This is critically important during hockey games, as I am typically the only audio engineer on-site. Also, the redundancy is great. I don’t know a lot of systems that have this level of redundancy.’

Anna is the newest addition to EAW’s flagship line of ADAPTive Systems, providing all of the benefits of Adaptive Performance in a high-output mid-sized enclosure. Each Anna module employs eight 1-inch exit/35mm voice coil HF compression drivers loaded on a proprietary HF horn that expands to fill nearly the face of the enclosure. Otto is the world’s first ADAPTive subwoofer, using two offset aperture-loaded woofers paired with independent on-board amplification, processing and networking. Otto perfectly balances low-frequency coverage with cancellation to suit the user’s requirements; omni, cardioid, hyper-cardioid or anywhere in between from just a single module.

EAW’s MKD1096 two-way full range loudspeaker series is engineered to deliver the high-output, broadband pattern control and fidelity for from stadia to intimate music clubs. The UXA Series of Greybox-enabled amplifiers is a match for any externally powered EAW loudspeaker. It incorporates high performance amplification, DSP (including Focusing and DynO) and Dante networking into a compact rackmount electronics package.

‘The selection and installation of the new EAW adaptive PA system was an incredible team effort,’ adds Leveillé. ‘Patrick Auger, VP of infrastructure and operations, and Daniel Trottier, EVP, are the ones who listened to us, and trusted the technology and the process. The new PA system sounds great. Given the current state of live events, it’s beneficial to us to have an adaptable system, as we can better control coverage based on having none or reduced audiences. Either way, the players are going to want a PA, as the music creates an ambiance, to amp them up during game play, and with our EAW system, we can do that too, and then grow from there.’

More: www.eaw.com

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