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The Effects of Spectators on the Speech Intelligibility Performance of Sound Systems in Stadia and Other Large Venues

Stadiums and similar venues in the UK and throughout most of Europe are subject to strict safety standards and regulations, including the performance of their Public Address systems. The usual requirement is for the PA system to achieve a potential speech intelligibility performance of 0.50 STI, though some authorities and organizations require a higher value than this. However, a problem exists with measuring the performance of the system, as this can only be carried out in the empty stadium. The paper shows that with occupancy, the acoustic conditions change significantly, as the spectators introduce significant sound absorption and also increase the background noise level. The effect this can have on the intelligibility performance of the sound system is examined and discussed. The relationship between the unoccupied starting conditions and audience absorption and distribution are also investigated.

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AES - Audio Engineering Society