Audio-Technica provided microphone products for Pope Benedict XVI’s recent visit to New York City, which took place April 18-20, 2008. Shown is Pope Benedict XVI, speaking into an Audio-Technica AE6100 Hypercardioid Dynamic Handheld Microphone, at the ecumenical prayer service held at the Church of St. Joseph on April 18, 2008. Photo by Mel Evans/AFP/Getty ImagesNew York City (April 22, 2008)–It’s no exaggeration to say that when the Pope speaks, millions upon millions of people listen. So when the pontiff visited New York City this past weekend, ensuring that people could hear every word he said in public was a primary importance. To that end, Larry Estrin, of Best Audio (Studio City, CA), serving as “Director of Communications for the Papal Visit for the Archdiocese of New York and Coordinating Technical Director for Media and Broadcast,” selected several different Audio-Technica microphones for use at eight separate events over three days.
Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to New York City coincided with the pontiff’s 81st birthday and the third anniversary of his election as pope. It was Pope Benedict’s first stateside visit as pontiff and the first U.S. papal visit since Pope John Paul II’s 1999 trip. Audio-Technica provided a wide range of microphones for Benedict’s appearances and related events in New York City, even going so far as to create special white-colored microphones and accessories, in order to be consistent with the color scheme and solemn tone of these events.
On Friday morning, April 18, the pontiff arrived at New York’s JFK Airport, hosting a short ceremony after landing. Later in the day, he traveled to the Church of St. Joseph in Manhattan’s Yorktown district, where he held a prayer service with representatives of other Christian denominations. The following morning, Saturday, April 19, he held a special mass for priests, deacons and other clergy at St. Patrick’s Cathedral (this was the first papal mass ever celebrated at the legendary church and also a commemoration of Benedict’s third anniversary of his election to the papacy). That afternoon, he traveled north of the city to Yonkers, where two events were held at St. Joseph’s Seminary Chapel: a meeting with disabled children followed by a meeting with young seminarians. On Sunday, April 20, the pontiff visited and spoke at Ground Zero of the World Trade Center at a morning prayer service. From there, the pope traveled to Yankee Stadium, where he led thousands in Sunday mass, and entertainers performed the Concert for Hope. Finally, he held a short prayer service back at JFK before his departure, capping his historic visit to the U.S.
A key microphone at all of these events was the Audio-Technica AE6100 Hypercardioid Dynamic Handheld Microphone. Estrin selected it to capture audio as the pope spoke from the Pontifical Throne, as well as whenever a Vatican assistant or priest held the microphone for him. The AE6100 was used on a microphone stand aiming toward the pope, as well as on a specially designed boom to facilitate easy handheld usage. Said Estrin, “We chose the AE6100 specifically because I like the way it looks and sounds, and it’s got all the right attributes. It’s an excellent microphone for these purposes, because when used as a handheld, it has very, very little handling noise properties. Also, the pope can at times have a very soft speaking voice, and we relied on the AE6100 to provide clear and articulate sound to that end.”
Two other key mics were the ES961 Cardioid Condenser Boundary Microphone and the ES933H Hypercardioid Condenser Hanging Microphone. The ES961s were employed at the Yorkville, St. Patrick’s and St. Joseph’s Seminary events as ambo/pulpit mics and altar backup mics. The ES933H mics were used at the prayer service at Ground Zero. Said Estrin, “We concealed one of them at the base of the candle the pope lit while saying a prayer and another at the edge of the carpet to pick up the ambient sound as he quietly talked to some of the survivors and families of victims of the attacks. The goal was to have the mics as low-profile as possible, but we needed to pick up the audio for broadcast, so we put them at the base of the candle and edge of the carpet, which made them disappear. They worked like a charm.”
Other mics included ES915ML (18″) MicroLine Condenser Gooseneck Microphones for use on lecterns at the St. Joseph Yorkville, St. Joseph’s Seminary and Yankee Stadium services; four AT4040 Large-Diaphragm Side-Address Microphones to mic the choir at the St. Joseph’s Seminary service; two black ES905 Hypercardioid Condenser Rigid-Pipe Microphones at the St. Patrick’s mass, chosen to blend in with the color scheme of the speakers’ vestments; and an A-T 5000 Series Frequency-agile True Diversity UHF Wireless System. Additional on-site support for the Yankee Stadium mass was provided by Audio-Technica representative Steve Savanyu.
Estrin and Audio-Technica went to great lengths to make all these microphones and accessories available in white to blend in with the papal colors of yellow and white. Estrin stated, “These services were solemn and spiritual occasions for many Americans. Our job was to mic everything to the best of our abilities without drawing attention away from the prayerful nature, and white mics made it all the more possible.”
Audio-Technica Marketing Manager Dan Montecalvo stated, “Audio-Technica has been extremely successful as the microphone manufacturer of choice for many important, high-profile events, and we are honored that Best Audio selected our products for such a historic occasion as Pope Benedict’s first visit to the U.S. We believe this underscores our reputation for quality and dependability of product.”