Ford Field Embraces QSC Audio for PA Needs

Ford Field, home of the NFL’s Detroit Lions and events like the NCAA men’s hockey Final Four, now features improved audio courtesy of QSC’s Q-Sys integrated system platform.

“The former system was a mixture of analog and networked digital audio using a variety of processors and technology,” explains audio consultant/ integrator John W. Horrell of Durrell Sports Audio Systems. “A main DSP was used for overall system EQ and then fed 26 other DSP devices that provided the voicings for the main stadium clusters. A back of house system used still another DSP structure to feed the concourses, the locker rooms, the media areas and ticketing.”

Last year, that mix of systems, led to the loss of audio during a game and that incident was the impetus for a total audio system remake.

Durrell Sports Audio Systems was tasked with the challenge of redesigning the entire control system, removing the old components, checking the existing amplifiers and speakers and commissioning the entire audio system – all just three weeks prior to the 2010 National College Hockey League Playoffs. Durrell opted for a Q-Sys system comprised of 2 Q-Sys Core 3000 main frames and 27 Q-Sys I/O frames and they met the tight deadline with a couple of days to spare.
“The Q-Sys installation was a delight and we actually had it connected and talking to all 125 amplifiers within three days,” Horrell recalls. “Operation and installation are far more efficient. Q-Sys is a single point-to-point type of technology that allows the routing of audio inputs to any specific point and offered us a huge improvement over the series connected DSP boxes in the old system.”

Instead of three separate computer programs plus more than 27 DSP processors, he says the team operates within one program. “Combine that with less signal latency, better output quality and constant assurance of equipment status and Q-Sys was an excellent choice in this situation,” he adds.

Another Q-Sys feature that has proven invaluable is the system’s ability to be controlled and monitored via a networked computer system. During the NFL season engineers monitor all the games being played each Sunday remotely.

“Problems like over-heated amplifiers or unusual impedances can be singled out and actually addressed from 500 miles away,” says Horrell.

Ford Field also already had a number of legacy QSC amplifiers including PowerLight 4.0 and 6.0 models that were still serving reliably. Since Q-Sys is backwards compatible with these dataport-equipped amplifiers, they were able to be fully integrated into the Q-Sys design and are controlled and monitored just like the newer PL3 and CX models that were added to the amplifier inventory.

“Q-Sys is just that kind of cutting edge technology product that we can offer our clients,” Horrell adds. “Our company has a reputation with our NFL and professional sports partners for being able to guarantee top quality system performance. Q-Sys is the type of product that provides us with confidence margin in its reliability.”