Boston’s Fenway Park is the oldest baseball park in the major leagues. And thanks to the commitment of the team’s ownership group, the
home of the Boston Red Sox should continue to thrive well beyond its
Since 1986, Boston Light & Sound (BL&S) has provided extensive public
address and related system services at Fenway Park, a relationship that
hit a new high mark in the winter of 2005 as BL&S implemented a new
stadium-wide distributed sound system over the course of a New England
winter under a very tight timeframe.
Designed by WJHW in Dallas, the new sound system replaces an approach largely based upon a center field loudspeaker cluster. It now utilizes more than 200 zones of EAW loudspeakers, providing highly intelligible full-range coverage to defined seating sections. The main grandstand’s upper and lower decks are served by groupings of loudspeakers, while the huge center- and right-field bleachers, along with specialty areas such as outdoor plazas and the seats atop the Green Monster, receive reinforcement via carefully selected and placed individual loudspeakers. The BL&S team also added sound reinforcement to the stadium’s new upper level club seats, as well as to concourses and walkways.
QSC Audio QSControl.net is the crucial backbone tying the entire system together, integrating amplifier and loudspeaker management with configurable digital signal processing and digital audio transport. BL&S took the lead position with this key facet of the project, assembling and interconnecting the amplifier/processor racks at their shop prior to installation for troubleshooting and optimization.
Fenway Park’s many structural anomalies presented a distinct installation challenge. No two sections are alike. To accommodate these differences, BL&S designed and erected numerous loudspeaker mounting brackets, and in some cases built entire steel structures for suitable mounting.
“Boston Light & Sound did this setup work as well as it could possibly be done,” notes WJHW’s Mark Graham. “With other DSP systems, there’s a crash or two as well as complaints about glitches, but not once have there been any network problems, lock-ups, or anything of that nature.”
By Opening Day of the 2006 season, the entire ballpark-wide system was ready to go—tested and optimized to supply dramatically upgraded performance for a sold-out crowd of Red Sox faithful.
Since 2006 a number of stadium improvements have been made, including creating the Coke and Cumberland Farm sign seating areas, extending the upper level pavilion seats down the left and right field lines, renovating the control booth, and replacing the bleacher scoreboard and signage.
These additions required the team of WJHW and Boston Light & Sound to design and implement the additional sound needed to provide audio coverage to these areas. All of these improvements entailed the addition of loudspeakers, amplifiers, and processors. Any time loudspeakers are added to a section, they are likely to affect the sound in adjacent areas. Precise selection of loudspeakers, aiming, and time alignment solve any problems.
Boston Light & Sound is constantly monitoring this system from computers in its home facility to pre-empt any problems that may arise. They also make two yearly visits to Fenway to check out all components. Happily, there have been no major failures during their tenure.
(Adapted from original story by Keith Clark)
BL&S is a key partner of the
“Whether it’s an on-the-spot setup for the late Ray Charles and Lou Rawls, or an extensive installation, these professionals have helped take the Fenway Park experience to new heights of audio enjoyment.”
For the first game of the 2007 World Series at Fenway Park, BL&S was asked to mic the Boston Symphony Orchestra, conducted by John Williams, for their performance of the National Anthem in center field.
Skillfully preparing an entire orchestra with mics for entry and exit of the field within minutes presented some unique logistical and technical challenges. The solution: use a completely wireless microphone system. To ensure that no sound interference occurred with the performance and the broadcast, BL&S
coordinated wireless microphones and in-ear frequencies with the local and national television networks.
BL&S’s recent major renovations in 2006 to the park’s sound system positively aided in the end result: Fenway Park became a world class symphony hall of its own.
During the previous 2004 World Series and ALCS, many performers, including Boston’s own Steven Tyler and James Taylor, treated 34,000 Red Sox fans to their renditions of the National Anthem. BL&S provided audio support for this pre-game entertainment.
In addition to installing and monitoring the audio equipment, BL&S overcame numerous technical challenges associated with live broadcast and performance. For instance, the lengthy time delay from the main loudspeaker cluster to the performer at home plate necessitated the use of in-ear monitors to assist the performer’s concentration so they would not become distracted by the echo effect.
This freed the performers to focus on entertaining fans during what was to be one of the most memorable championship series at Fenway.
“I never have to worry”
“With BL&S, ballpark audio becomes the easiest part of the game. I never have to worry – they’re the best guys around.”