Since its inauguration in 1928, Ferrara’s Paolo Mazza Stadium has been home to SPAL, the town’s professional football club. Last year, the ground celebrated its 90th anniversary. A major refurbishment in 2018 doubled the crowd capacity and modernised the stadium’s technical systems. This included a comprehensive overhaul of the audio system, which now fulfills FIFA standards. The new PA system exclusively uses RCF systems and speakers.
The ground’s new look is reminiscent of Goodison Park stadium in Liverpool, England, home to Everton FC. Like Goodison Park, the Paolo Mazza Stadium is located in the city’s centre. After a building phase lasting three months, the stadium offers capacity for 16,000 fans, double the capacity offered during the 2016/17 season. The refurbishment project included not only the pitch but the PA system, lighting, seating and stands. The West Stand, traditionally used by home fans, was extended and now features a new roof, as does the junction to the main stand. The East Stand was also extended.
All stands and club-level seating are now served by around 40 P 6215 Installed Sound series RCF speakers, driven by, among other equipment, extremely high-power 4-channel QPS 9600 amplifiers. Routing is handled by two DX 1616 matrix audio processors via a DANTE network. The control room houses a Touch7 unit, a 7” touchscreen by Xilica as well as an R44P, a 4x4-I/O Dante unit. The two main stands are each served by 10 P 6215 speakers, with the East and West Stands each using eight units of the same model. Another four P 6215 cover the pitch area. All installed loudspeakers are set up in pairs, with separate control available for each pair.
The amplifier system employs two control units, one for the South and East Stands and the other for the North and West Stands. Each control unit uses a DX 1616 audio processor and three 4-channel QPS 9600 power amplifiers. The two control units are connected via optical fibre cabling. Data transfer is accomplished using two separate VLAN networks: one handles the audio data using the DANTE protocol while the other transfers control data for system management and programming. The optical fibre cables run in a loop around the pitch, providing redundancy for the connection between the two control units. The system is controlled using a Touch7 touchscreen housed in the stadium’s control room which is connected to the two optical fibre cables. Audio signals destined for the amplifiers are routed to the DANTE network using the R44P.
Using the touchscreen, operators can independently raise or lower the volume of any sector covering the stands or pitch. The system also offers a number of Mute functions. These include full, stadium-wide Mute (for security reasons this function is also available via two voltage-free contacts on one of the control units), a number of Mute options for individual stadium sectors as well as muting for each speaker pair. If needed, speaker pairs located near the edge of the pitch can be muted without affecting the speakers serving the rest of the stand.
Developed by the RCF Engineering Support Group, the system was installed by Suono e Immagine (
), with Ivan Franco Bottoni serving as project leader. RCF optimized the system for best possible performance and speech intelligibility, attaining outstanding Speech Transmission Index (STI) values.