How Australia’s Sydney Showground Amps Things Up with LEA Professional

 An aerial view of the Sydney Showground.
An aerial view of the Sydney Showground.

Brought to life in 1998, the Sydney Showground was a purpose-built home designed for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. More than two decades—and numerous music festivals, sporting events, exhibitions, trade shows, and Sydney Royal Easter Shows— later, the AV system needed an upgrade. The LEA Professional Connect Series was exactly what they complex was looking for.

Showground staff contacted Australian integrator The P.A. People to help overhaul the system. Ross Ford, project manager at The P.A. People, was tasked with leading the installation. “From an operational point of view, LEA amplifiers offered us several key features that made them easy to integrate. The ability to bridge channels, ingest Dante inputs, and utilize analog inputs for the fire trip lines, plus they're a lot smaller and more compact than many competitive offerings.”

Every pavilion has a standalone public address system, with a site-wide system in place for emergency communications. A major element of the AV upgrades was the desire for complete system monitoring and supervision. Because the AV in some of the smaller venues is used infrequently, unbeknownst to the staff, when required the AV systems often performed sub-optimally, an issue only identified immediately prior to an event during testing. LEA’s line-monitoring capabilities were a significant factor in their selection. Now, AV staff receive an email notifying them of device issues or signal path disruptions in real-time, allowing staff to make fixes in many cases before anyone notices a problem.

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A LEA Professional rack in the Sydney Showground control room.

A mixture of nine LEA Connect Series 354D amplifiers and nine LEA Connect Series 704D amplifiers were deployed in the smaller venues. The CS354D is a Dante-enabled 4-channel amplifier with 350 watts per channel, while the CS704D is a Dante-enabled 4-channel amplifier with 700 watts per channel. Both are perfectly suited for small to medium-scale installations and support high-Z (70V or 100V) and low-Z selectable by channel, giving the Showground excess capabilities for additional loudspeakers in the future.

For the Dome and Exhibition Complex, The P.A. People installed 13 LEA Connect Series 1504D. The CS1504D is LEA Professional’s flagship high-power IoT-enabled amplifier. A 2RU 4-channel amplifier offering 1500 watts per channel, it’s ideal for large concert venues, arenas and stadiums. The CS1504D is Dante-enabled and supports high-Z (70V or 100V) and low-Z selectable by channel, providing capabilities for possible expansion.

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A significant challenge for the installation team was that many venues were in constant use, so finding time to perform the upgrades and swap out the gear had to be very carefully planned. Thankfully, LEA’s Sharkware software made device configuration simple, saving the team significant commissioning time.

“Because of the quality of LEA’s amplifiers and the ease of being able to implement them in the infrastructure, we were able to swap out 15 amplifiers in a few days,” said Ford. “That time included tuning and setting up all the system parameters and making them operational.”

Sydney Showground staff were pleased with how smoothly the changeovers went. The Royal Easter Show was just around the corner, so there was no room for error— the AV systems had to work flawlessly.

“Sydney Showground is a longstanding client of ours and great to work with,” said Ford. “They are very respectful of our professional capability in making recommendations to them based on product performance. The proof is that all the AV systems worked as intended and, more importantly, RAS received no user complaints during this year’s Royal Easter Show. It's a good working relationship; having the right products like LEA’s amplifiers is the key.”

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“The flexibility and performance of our PA system is crucial to the safe and effective performance of our venue, and we are thrilled with the positive system performance outcome, a fit-for-purpose solution and our working relationship with the P.A. People has been exceptional,” said Jonathan Seward, head of RAS Property and Sydney Royal Easter Show operations.