A full 47,000 people heard the Pope at Nationals Stadium in Washington, D.C., via the Martin Audio PA employed by MHA Audio.Washington, D.C. (May 1, 2008)–On the Pope’s recent visit to the U.S., his New York segment may have gotten the most coverage, but his time in the nation’s capitol was just as important–and challenging when it came to audio issues. A key stop was at the brand-new Nationals Stadium, where he held Mass with sound provided by MHA Audio, using a sizable Martin Audio PA.
MHA’s owner, Mike Scarfe, noted, “We couldn’t use the existing audio system because, as with all stadiums, the sound comes from above and behind the audience; since the stage for the Papal Mass was at one end, it would have been impossible to time-align it to the stage. We provided sound for the entire stadium–47,000 people–from 60-foot towers on either side of the stage.
“Basically, we had a 550-foot throw from the speaker tower to the farthest seat. Working with Jim Cousins at Martin Audio in the UK and using Display software, we were able to come up with optimum angles for the line array. We had 16 W8L Longbows on each side firing forward, and 12 W8LCs a side, firing sideways, along with six W8LCs firing to the rear of stage left.
The total speaker complement included 32 Martin Audio W8L Longbow cabinets, 30 Martin Audio W8LC, six Martin Audio WSX subs, and two Martin WT3s.
“It wasn’t just about clear spoken word reproduction, because on stage right behind the speaker tower, we had a 700-member choir and an orchestra of 50. The program started at 5 AM once the gates were opened and there was a variety of entertainment, including notable opera singers Placido Domingo and Denyce Graves up to the start of the mass at 10 AM. And the choir, cantors and orchestral accompaniment continued throughout the mass until noon.”
The MHA crew consisted of FOH: Zane Marshall, assisted by Peter Maher; Monitors/Orchestral Stage: David Colella Assisted by Tom Buckley and Monitors/Entertainment Stage: Gavin Pearce, assisted by Bruce Coffman.
Scarfe concludes, “The client, Showcall, is an event production company, specializing in large format, high threat events was very happy with the sound. We received positive comments all around, everybody was impressed. The representative from Vatican Radio, Roberto, was very enthusiastic. He’d already had positive experiences using Martin Audio in Europe and was happy to see it again.