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Papal Production for 1.2 Million

GUAYAQUIL, ECUADOR—Hundreds of thousands of people traveled to Guayaquil, Ecuador to witness Pope Francis celebrate an outdoor mass at Samanes Park, located on the northern edge of the port city.

GUAYAQUIL, ECUADOR—Hundreds of thousands of people traveled to Guayaquil, Ecuador to witness Pope Francis celebrate an outdoor mass at Samanes Park, located on the northern edge of the port city. Sound production company C. Vilar, headquartered in Bogota, Colombia, was responsible for all audio and video systems deployed during the event.

“This is a very particular job where you get hired to provide amazing clarity and intelligibility on one voice,” said Mauricio Vilar, owner of C. Vilar. “When people are expecting perfection from one microphone, there’s no room for mistakes.”

Samanes Park is an on-going project that will ultimately provide the Guayaquil community with more than 2,102 acres of recreational space. The area set aside for the Papal mass utilized 118 acres, of which a large portion was an undeveloped open field that could accommodate the anticipated 1.2 million Catholics onsite for the mass.

In preparation for the event, a large pavilion (80×80 meters) was constructed at the front of the field with a seating capacity of 600. Beyond the pavilion, the field was divided into 28 100×100-meter sections, each providing space and amenities for up to 30,000 people.

Using an audio system centered around a Yamaha PM5D console and a sizable Adamson Engineering Systems PA, sound production company C. Vilar provided audio of the Pope celebrating mass to an estimated 1.2 million people across 118 acres in Ecuador. Vilar notes that one of the challenges of designing sound reinforcement for the mass was not only the area that needed to be covered, but also the venue—which was changed a number of times and not finalized until very close to the event.

“I am fortunate to have a team that is very experienced and capable of achieving the best-possible coverage of any space,” Vilar said. “Even as the event approached, we were confident that we could handle the audio in any number of the venues under discussion.”

Once Samanes Park was chosen, Vilar worked with his system design team to create a large main PA as well as several delay lines to ensure the entire 118 acres were covered. Because the main PA as well as the first line of delays were made up of Adamson line array enclosures, he used Adamson’s Blueprint AV software in conjunction with Auto- Cad to build the listening area, using the software to decide where to hang multiple arrays, simulate response with a variety of acoustic measurement tools and provide a detailed rigging plot for the primary systems. Because of the tremendous listening area, and the number of Adamson loudspeakers already in use, C. Vilar utilized a combination of d&b audiotechnik and Nexo loudspeakers for the third and fourth delay lines

 “Blueprint AV is a tool that we can rely on to create a system design that will deliver what the client requires,” he remarked. “This was a particularly important event without much room for error. Using Blueprint AV helped ensure a flawless event.”

Ultimately, the system consisted of a main PA with two sets of outfill arrays to cover the pavilion and first 125 meters of the field. From there, three more lines of delay towers—each made up of six line arrays—covered the rest of the field. The C. Vilar team hung a total of 24 line arrays to blanket the listening area.

The main PA was hung under the eaves of the pavilion in the far left and right corners. Each array was made up of a dozen Adamson S10 line array enclosures. The first pair of outfill towers were placed roughly 80 meters from left and right of the pavilion, and each consisted of nine E15 enclosures and nine E12 enclosures. A total of 20 Adamson Y10 enclosures—10 per side—were hung 180 meters to the left and right of the pavilion to cover the far-front seating areas. Meanwhile, eight Adamson SpekTrix, stacked four high to the left and right of the stage, offered sidefill coverage.

The first delay line was placed 125 meters out from the main PA. The primary rig consisted of left-right line arrays made up of nine E15s per side, located 60 meters apart. The first pair of outfill towers—placed 80 meters out from the center system—were equipped with 12 Adamson Y18 enclosures each. Additional outfill was provided by another set of towers, this time located another 100 meters out, with eight Adamson SpekTrix enclosures hung from each. “The throw and consistency of Adamson loudspeakers in the vertical and horizontal plane is amazing,” Vilar says. “When you walk 200 meters away from a system and can still hear it clearly? To me that says a lot. And it’s not because the system is being driven too hard; it is because the design is exceptional; even at a low volume, you could still hear it.”

In order to continue coverage for the second half of the field, Vilar set up the third delay line approximately 120 meters from the first and placed another six line arrays—this time made up of d&b audiotechnik J and V series boxes—spread equally across 300 meters. The fourth delay was placed another 100 meters out and consisted of Nexo Geo series boxes. The entire system was powered by Lab.gruppen amplifiers. Amplifier racks as well as Adamson’s E-Racks were positioned throughout the listening area in close proximity to the arrays they powered.

Front-of-house, located front and center 80 meters from the stage, was home to a Yamaha PM5D digital console. An Avid Profile, located stage left, mixed the choir seated in a grandstand next to the pavilion. C. Vilar provided a DiGiCo SD10 to mix the bandstand. Engineers used a Midas Pro1 for the first delay line, with Midas Pro2 consoles for the second and third.

“We were honored to represent Colombia in what was one of the most important events in recent Latin American history,” Vilar concludes. “To ensure that the thousands of people on site could listen to Pope Francis say mass was a privilege. Everyone was very happy with the end result.”

Adamson Systems Engineering