Audio feeding the 5,000
FRANCE: The city of Tours recently celebrated the 1,700th anniversary of the birth of its patron saint, St Martin of Tours. The festivities included special masses held in the city’s Cathedral, which attracted approximately 3,000 people, and a large, open-air mass, attended by more than 5,000 in Marmoutiers, where St Martin established a small hermitage during the fourth century (the ruins of an old Abbey now mark this site).
The celebrations were organised by the city’s Diocese and local radio and television networks broadcast many of them. Taking responsibility for specifying the audio equipment across the events was Julien Proutière, a sound engineer from Tours-based audio consultancy Multi Sceni.
‘The open air mass in Marmoutiers was particularly tricky to set up because it was held by the river Loire, close to a very busy road,’ recalls Mr Proutière. ‘The mass was conducted by an Archbishop and a number of other celebrants. They stood on a 20 x 8m stage and we also had to amplify an orchestra of 20 people and a chorus of 80 voices – all of which were located below the stage. Avoiding feedback was our main issue because of the proximity of the sound system, but we also had to contend with wind, which got stronger and stronger in the two hours leading up to the start of the mass.’
To capture the music of the orchestra and the voices of the choir, Multi-Sceni out its extensive stock of DPA microphones to use. The company has acquired its DPA collection from the manufacturer’s French distributor, Audio².
‘Initially, I chose a range of supercardioid microphones including the d:fine 4088 directional headset microphone, which I was planning to use for the Archbishop. But because the wind increased in strength during the day, I had to change my mind. In the end we used d:fine 4066 omnidirectional headset microphones because they are so linear off axis that the risk of feedback was very small and they were also better able to deal with wind noise,’ explains Mr Proutière. He noted that the final setup included four d:dicate 4011 cardioid microphones with active MMP-E cables for the choir and another four for the orchestra. ‘These included some with MMP-C compact preamplifiers, which I chose because they had less visual impact. All these microphones are exceptionally accurate with very low distortion. They are also extremely directional, which meant we could pick up the sound of the singers and instruments and not the ambient traffic noise.’
A d:fine 4066 omnidirectional headset mic was provided for the Archbishop, as well as a d:screet 4060 lapel microphone as a backup. Two d:screet SC4098 podium microphones were selected for the other priests to speak into.
‘The sound from all of the microphones was perfect, despite the wind, and we didn’t have any issues with feedback,’ says Mr Proutière. ‘Our main problem was the lack of damping tarps, as the Abbey ruins around the stage had to be visible. We were also expecting a large number of spectators filling an area with a depth of over 50 meters, so I needed a sound system with real kick.’
Delivering the kick was an Adamson Y10 line array setup of eight speakers per side. Complementing these were Adamson M15 speakers and a pair of Wave speakers for front-fill. Mr Proutière’s colleague, Julien Benezet programmed the loudspeaker solution and used a Yamaha CL5 to control the system.