Fan Experience

CGI delivers audio upgrades for Twickenham

Featured image credit: Billy Brodzinski on Unsplash

Clair Global Integration (CGI) has been chosen to futureproof Twickenham Stadium’s new bowl installation using the JBL Professional VLA loudspeaker range.

CGI was called upon to design and install a brand-new bowl sound system installation for the historic 82,000-capacity venue, which is owned by the Rugby Football Union (RFU), England’s national rugby governing body.

Deploying state-of-the-art audio upgrades, the project was led by the highly experienced UK-based team, the results of which have catapulted Twickenham Stadium into a new era of concert-grade audio capabilities. 

Designed by CGI’s UK director, Eddie Thomas, and associate director Tom Williams, the project was delivered by Jake Miller, Steve Watson, and John Hardy, who secured this once-in-a-generation installation thanks to their collective and in-depth knowledge of high-end stadia audio. 

Starting with the original groundwork designed by environmental and technology consultants Vanguardia, a Buro Happold brand, CGI built upon this initial delivery phase by installing 16-line arrays flown from the stadium roof. 

Twickenham hosted the Six Nations match between England and Wales on February 10. The stadium will also host England vs Ireland on March 9.

CGI’s Tom Williams said: “Each hang comprises 12 JBL VLA-C2100 dual 10-inch cabinets and three JBL VLA-C125 flown sub-bass loudspeakers. The JBL VLA-C speakers use components shared with the JBL Pro VTX range for maximum sonic quality.”

An impressive 336 JBL AWC-Series speakers have been used for the under-balcony areas on levels three and four, amplified by Crown DCi8|600N. Crown DCi-N amplifiers were utilised throughout the entirety of the system, with DCi4|2400N used for the main arrays and subs.

There are six-amp rack locations on the roof and over 50 amplifiers in total. Two Q-SYS Core 510i integrated audio processors have been used in a redundant configuration with IO Frames in each amp rack. This high-fidelity system is capable of LAeq of 105dBA, commanding skillfully planned coverage. 

CGI has also installed a diversely routed and fire-resistant fibre network backbone. It provides essential infrastructure and is ‘Sports Ground Safety Authority Green Guide’ approved, the UK Government-funded guidance on spectator safety at sports grounds. This results in best practices for design, planning, safety, management, and operation. 

“Designed specifically for stadia and other large-scale projects, the JBL upgrade at Twickenham is a statement system that offers generous flexibility,” added Williams. “This venue has welcomed spectators since 1907 and these significant upgrades will futureproof the evolving needs of its impressive sporting and live events calendar.”

The stadium hosts half-time entertainment during rugby matches, as well as high-profile international touring artists seeking large, outdoor venues. The new system therefore was required to reach the ‘Gods’ for live performance needs, offering an innovative ‘construction to production’ solution.

Williams continued: “This iconic venue has welcomed many Clair Global touring artists in the past including Lady Gaga, The Rolling Stones, Rihanna and recently, Depeche Mode. The new audio system now allows tours to save on additional rental equipment costs while becoming a summer destination of choice for booking agents.”

Mark Lynch, RFU executive director, added: “The fan experience is becoming more and more important and creating that fan experience through audio is key. It goes beyond rugby; we hold concerts, conferences, and events here, so making this a multi-purpose stadium is underpinned by a quality audio system. The feedback we get now from fans about the overall experience – led by those JBL speakers – is unbelievable!”