Fenway Sound System Gets a Few More Pieces

Part of the celebration of Boston’s Fenway Park’s 100th anniversary comes in the form of an expanded audio system. The distributed PA system designed by WJHW and installed in 2006 by Boston Light & Sound at MLB’s oldest continuously operating ballpark has undergone several upgrades, including additional coverage for new seating areas in 2010 and 2011. This year, new speakers have been added to provide on-field coverage in the infield area around home plate between first and third bases.

Both the main grandstand and extended bleachers are covered by groupings of EAW MK Series and AX Series loudspeakers; various luxury clubs and seating areas are served by EAW CIS400 and CIS300 ceiling loudspeakers. The house system is mixed by a Mackie Onyx console posted at the system-control position.

“The installation of a distributed sound system in 2006 was a big improvement over the old central-cluster design that preceded it,” explains Mark Graham, associate at WJHW. “It increased coverage and intelligibility for audio in the seating areas. However, it also minimized how much sound escapes onto the field itself. That caused some problems in sound for pregame events being able to be heard on the field.”

That situation was rectified before the start of this year’s MLB regular season, with a single EAW KF740 line-array module installed to cover the area around home plate. This is switched off for games.

“Pregame activities include an MC-type person who walks around with a microphone in the area behind home plate. He was unable to hear himself, and the original plan for monitors — to mount them to the low wall in front of the stands — failed because security personnel and others would stand in front of them,” says EAW Marketing Director John Speck. “Pole-mounted systems were ruled out for sightline issues. The solution, then, was a [high-power] loudspeaker mounted directly beneath the camera position in the mezzanine behind home plate. The first choice — the QX Series — proved too tall, but a single KF740 module delivered the necessary output in a low-profile enclosure. This covers home plate so well that the system is also used for batting practice, saving Fenway the need to use the full stadium system.”

Congratulations to Fenway, the Sox, and Boston and good wishes for their next 100 years.