Eaw Speaker System Upgrade Lights The Lamp At Montreal’s Centre Bell

Photo: Lisa Griffiths

Upgrading its PA system to provide a more unique and memorable experience for its fans and spectators, the Centre Bell, which is home to the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens and hosts a range of live events, turned to EAW for the project. The Centre Bell is reconfigured, frequently, into one of six different seating formats — ranging from a 2,000-seat amphitheatre to a 21,000-seat full-capacity NHL arena. EAW was chosen by way of a competitive bidding process commissioned by Jesse Leveillé, A1 tech at the Centre Bell. The EAW system was able to meet the wide range of applications and audio challenges at the venue and includes Anna Loudspeakers and Otto Subwoofers from the ADAPTive line, along with MKD1096 Loudspeakers and UXA4410 Amplifiers. The EAW system, now fully implemented, provides the essential power and flexibility the venue needs as it is traditionally one of the busiest arenas in North America.

Jesse’s introduction to EAW’s new ADAPTive series was during a sold-out concert at the Centre Bell for Tom Petty’s 40th Anniversary tour in 2017. “EAW was brought in for the show and the legendary FOH Engineer Robert Scoville was mixing,” said Jesse. “Scoville is a master behind the console and what we were hearing was absolutely fantastic. The EAW kit was really impressive, especially in terms of its steering capabilities, sound quality and coverage. We knew it would be a great fit for us.”

Once the Jesse-led project committee, which included design and consulting firm Trizart Alliance, selected EAW, the system was procured through SFM in Canada, and the job of installing the system was given to expert integration company, Solotech. The project was broken into two phases so that the space could remain operational throughout the upgrade. The first phase involved the installation of 22 MKD1096’s to cover the upper bowl with four additional MKDs to cover the ice, along with seven UXA4410 Amplifiers. The second phase was centered around covering the rest of the bowl, which involved a total of 96 Anna Loudspeakers and 36 Otto Subwoofers.

Trizart Alliance, who continually maintains the ceiling grid, only had to reinforce the framing for the hoists to accommodate the weight of the Anna and Otto enclosures since they have all amplification and processing on-board. Jesse also found the size of the EAW system to be advantageous. “The EAW system had a small footprint, which in my case was paramount because the new system had to fit within the existing ceiling walking grid to avoid completely reengineering and redesigning it,” added Jesse. “The footprint of the EAW boxes were perfect for our space, as they delivered the coverage and clarity we were looking for. One of the things I really like is its remote-control directivity, as I can easily and digitally reconfigure the coverage for full or half bowl events.”

Another feature Jesse found extremely useful and an important factor in the selection is EAW’s self-healing and redundancy capabilities, as the project required redundancy in every component of the system. “I think this is one of the most undersold features of the Annas and Ottos,” said Jesse. “We ran some tests at the Centre Bell where we forced the kit to simulate a shutdown, so I knew how to react if it happened during an event. It worked so well; we couldn’t even tell which box was down. The fact that in the rare instance you have an issue in the middle of a show, you can hit a button and it is completely healed – that is amazing. This is critically important during hockey games, as I am typically the only audio engineer on-site. Also, the redundancy is great. I don’t know a lot of systems that have this level of redundancy.”

Anna is the newest addition to EAW’s flagship line of ADAPTive Systems, providing all of the benefits of Adaptive Performance in a high-output mid-sized enclosure. Each Anna module includes 8x 1-in exit / 35mm voice coil HF compression drivers loaded on a proprietary HF horn that expands to fill nearly the entire face of the enclosure. Otto is the world’s first ADAPTive subwoofer, utilizing two offset aperture-loaded woofers paired with independent on-board amplification, processing and networking. Otto perfectly balances low-frequency coverage with cancellation to suit the user’s requirements; omni, cardioid, hyper-cardioid or anywhere in between from just a single module.

EAW’s MKD1096 2-way full range loudspeaker series is engineered to deliver the high output, broadband pattern control and exceptional fidelity that is required for real-world applications from stadiums to intimate music clubs. Its UXA Series of Greybox-enabled amplifiers is the perfect match for any externally powered EAW loudspeaker. It incorporates high performance amplification, DSP (including Focusing and DynO) and Dante networking into a compact rackmount electronics package.

“The selection and installation of the new EAW adaptive PA system was an incredible team effort,” added Jesse. “Patrick Auger, VP of infrastructure and operations, and Daniel Trottier, EVP, are the ones who listened to us, and trusted the technology and the process. The new PA system sounds great. Given the current state of live events, it’s beneficial to us to have an adaptable system, as we can better control coverage based on having none or reduced audiences. Either way, the players are going to want a PA, as the music creates an ambiance, to amp them up during game play, and with our EAW system, we can do that too, and then grow from there.”