WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 20, 2009: In one of the most anticipated speeches in modern American history, President Barack Obama delivered his eighteen-minute inaugural address on the west portico of the U.S. Capitol Building before a global television audience estimated in the billions. On the very stage upon which Franklin Delano Roosevelt proclaimed that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself” and John F. Kennedy urged a nation to “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,” Sennheiser’s MKH microphones stood at the ready as America’s first African-American commander-in-chief placed his hand on Abraham Lincoln’s inaugural Bible and swore to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States” at his swearing-in ceremony Tuesday afternoon.
Following a performance by global superstar Aretha Franklin, who sang “My Country ‘Tis Of Thee,” United States Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens swore in U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden. After a quartet performance of “Air And Simple Gifts,” a composition arranged for this momentous occasion by composer John Williams, featuring Yo-Yo Ma, Gabriela Montero, Itzhak Perlman and Anthony McGill, Chief Justice John Roberts administered the oath of office to President Obama at 12:06 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. Also speaking at the podium Tuesday were Pastor Rick Warren, poet Elizabeth Alexander and Reverend Joseph E. Lowery.
A record-setting on-site audience estimated at 1.8 million people packed into Washington, DC’s National Mall and stood in below-freezing temperatures to hear the inaugural address, during which President Obama declared: “On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.” With an unprecedented number of global broadcast outlets feeding the audio to an estimated one-quarter of the world’s population listening in from television sets and radios scattered throughout the globe, the world stopped to hear every syllable that America’s new president uttered.
Baltimore-based Maryland Sound International (MSI), which has also provided audio for two previous inaugurations, handled the audio for this massive endeavor. Clair Global (Lititz, Pennsylvania) provided delay speakers. Bob Goldstein, owner of MSI, noted, “To the best of my knowledge, this was largest amplified event in human history. To insure the podium audio would be flawless, we used two Sennheiser 816 shotgun mics on the sidelines as emergency backups.” The 816s are well-known for both directionality and reliable performance under adverse weather conditions. Dwight Stevenson, long-time Sennheiser technician, worked with MSI in delivering 816s that looked perfect and performed flawlessly for this historical occasion.
SENNHEISER Sennheiser is a world-leading manufacturer of microphones, headphones and wireless transmission systems. Established in 1945 in Wedemark, Germany, Sennheiser is now a global brand represented in 60 countries around the world with U.S. headquarters in Old Lyme, Connecticut. Sennheiser’s pioneering excellence in technology has rewarded the company with numerous awards and accolades including an Emmy, a Grammy, and the Scientific and Engineering Award of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
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