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Pope - Delta Sound

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TECH PROFILE

BRINGING THE SOUND OF UNITY TO THE UAE

IN LINE WITH THE REGION’S YEAR OF TOLERANCE AND SPREADING THE MESSAGE OF INTERFAITH RELATIONS - DUBAI-BASED DELTA SOUND PROVIDES AUDIO INFRASTRUCTURE FOR A SELECTION OF THE PONTIFF, POPE FRANCIS’ APPEARANCES TO ABU DHABI.

The Pope’s recent UAE tour included three official engagements including a rare display of Christian worship in the Muslim-majority region with a Papal Mass at Zayed Sports City Stadium for 135,000 people as well as official visits at the Presidential Palace and The Founder’s Memorial in Abu Dhabi.

The Pope was officially welcomed by horsemounted guards, the UAE’s military marching band, an artillery salute and a military flyover trailing the yellow and white smoke of the Vatican flag as he arrived at the presidential palace in Abu Dhabi.

The visit, which was historically the first by the Roman Catholic Church leader to the Arabian Peninsula, was celebrated by the UAEs unique population of people from a large mix of nationalities, races and religions who have come to call the UAE their home. Dubai-based audio and event communications specialist Delta Sound were commissioned to provide coverage across all three events.

A discreet audio system was required for this occasion, the full PA system was operated

wirelessly with Delta Sound deploying a series of L-Acoustic Kara and SB28’s draped to blend into the surrounding structures. A variety of mics with an RF base were used for the marching band, as no cable mics were able to be used in the space.

Lead Engineer Mahesh Ramdin was on site. He picked up the story: “The main challenge was a two-metre-high, sub-surface ground-based air-condition system which we needed to work through for the musicians as they moved across it.” He began, adding, “Our configuration handled it well and the result was refined.”

One of the Pope’s most significant appearances was at an interfaith meeting at The Founders Memorial with His Holiness and notable figures from the UAE, including Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, sign a commemorative stone at The Founders Memorial (TFM). The event required impeccable sound and a quality delivery for the PA and the event communications.

TFM’s onsite Audio Project Manager was James Ghamlouch. He said: “Having worked at the inauguration of the memorial we are familiar with the acoustics and the infrastructure

at the site. This allowed us to provide the PA specification for the meeting,” he commented. The rig consisted of 12 L-Acoustics K2s, 8 SB28s subwoofers and 42 5XT loudspeakers. The main control was run through LA Network manager on an Avid S6L. Ghamlouch continued: “Throughout the tiered seating we deployed 6 ground stacked L-Acoustics K2s and 4 SB28s subs per-side. The delay system was 42 5XTs divided across seven audience rows.”

The event communications consisted of wireless and wired comms for the production and show-calling teams. “We supplied a number of digital DP4400 Motorola Radios, ClearCom Helix wired comms and ClearCom Freespeak II wireless packs for the show-callers and stage managers,” said Technical Manager Liam McGrath.

The UAE’s first ever Papal Mass was a widely anticipated event with thousands of worshippers converging on Zayed Sports City Stadium to witness the Pontiff’s historical Mass. With a very short lead-time for preparation of only three weeks (something typical in the UAE)

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Delta Sound’s Managing Director Andy Jackson and Head of Engineering Al Woods, designed a methodology based on the brief set by the client, drawing on their knowledge and familiarity of the venue.

Interestingly, the Delta Sound crew had rolled into the build for the Papal event straight off the back of the Asian Football Confederation Final which took place only hours before at the same stadium. Without a break in its presence on-site ,the team and some system components were mobilised immediately.

Overseeing as audio project manager on site, Woods said: “We literally hit the ground running, our forward planning and prep paid off and our guys were able to streamline our operations into the next event.”

Delta Sound deployed its high-end L-Acoustics speaker stock, combining K1, K2, Kiva and Kara. The PA positions were dictated by site lines, utilising 4 flown hangs of L-Acoustics K1 over K2 from masts, covering the pitch and lower seating and the arcs covering the mid and upper bowl. Due to the seating configuration, the sound design challenges were tackled head-on. “The PA positions were difficult to time align and the roof flown PA also added additional issues as the azimuth of these hangs again did not always triangulate correctly with the PA on the field,” commented Woods. “We ran K1 and K2 main hangs and in fills with subs and ground stacked rear Kara fills. Kiva front fills were set into the stage and 20 hangs of four arcs were flown from the roof of the stadium for the upper and lower bowl.

“The arrangement worked really well.”

The event communications delivery involved stadium-wide FreeSpeak coverage and additional infrastructure. Communications Project Manager Bob Turner explained: “We opted for Clear- Com FreeSpeak II packs across the production team to service the event. “The team at NMK Electronics also supplied us with a delta frame to accommodate the show.”

“Our clients have their reputations to protect, as do we at Delta Sound,” concluded Jackson. “It was an honour to be involved in such an historic event for the people of the UAE and it’s nice to put another feather of this magnitude in our cap.” Delta Sound LLC is now part of the Production Resource Group LLC. Photo: Delta Sound

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