The new $90,000 public address system at Metro's Stadium-Armory Station has sounded garbled since the station opned July 1 and now the subway agency has figured out why: Construction workers failed to remove a sound-absorbent material from the fronts of the more than 200 speakers in the coffered ceiling.

The Blake Construction Co., the prime constractor on the project fail to follow the design plans that called for removal of the acoustic matting according to Joseph Greenway Metro's general superintendent for maintenance.

Blake officials did not return repeated calls for comment.

Metro Spokesman Cody Pfanstiehl said the Blake firm would have to pay to correct the sound system if Metro determines that the sound quality is substantially impaired. That decision is pending.

Greenway said the sound quality of the Stadium-Armory Station is poorer than that at other stations which he attributed to the faulty installation.

"I'm going to insist that it be corrected because it's detrimental to a system I'm responsible for" he said.

"It was the responsibility of the inspectors to have caught this during their installation.Apparently they did not," Greenway said.

Bechtel Associates Professional Corp., whose responsibility it was to make sure work complied with design plans, said there were "varying interpretations" of how the sound system at Stadium-Armory should be installed.

"Bechtel inspected it. It did not accept it, and it did not reject it," said Frank Waram, a Bechtel spokesman.

Controversy over the installation of the panels in front of the sound system was "making a mountain out of a mole hill," Waram said.

Correcting the system will require removal of the panels from the coffered ceiling, which may damage the costly panels, and it would require construction of a scaffold or use of a crane car, according to Metro.

Metro may conduct an investigation into how the faulty installation occurred and why it was discovered so late, Metro said.