The Diocese responsible for the French city of Tours has been organising events to mark the 1,700th anniversary of the birth of its patron saint, St. Martin of Tours. Alongside special masses in the city’s Cathedral, the Saint’s anniversary was also celebrated with a large, open-air mass in Marmoutiers where he founded a small hermitage in the fourth century - now the site of a ruined Abbey.
Sound engineer Julien Proutière, of Tours-based audio company Multi Sceni, was responsible for specifying audio equipment for these events, many of which were broadcast by local radio and television. High on his list of priorities was a selection of DPA microphones, which were chosen for their ability to deliver clear, amplified sound.
“The open air mass in Marmoutiers was particularly tricky to set up because it was held by the river Loire, close to a very busy road,” he explains. “The mass was conducted by an Archbishop and a number of other celebrants. They stood on a 20 x 8 meter stage and we also had to amplify an orchestra of 20 people and a chorus of 80 voices – all of which were located below the stage. Avoiding feedback was our main issue because of the proximity of the sound system, but we also had to contend with wind, which got stronger and stronger in the two hours leading up to the start of the mass.”
Multi Sceni has an extensive selection of DPA microphones, all of which were supplied by DPA’s French distributor Audio², and Proutière called on these resources to mic this prestigious event.
“Initially, I chose a range of supercardioid microphones including the d:fine™ 4088 Directional Headset Microphone, which I was planning to use for the Archbishop. But because the wind increased in strength during the day, I had to change my mind. In the end we used d:fine™ 4066 Omnidirectional Headset Microphones because they are so linear off axis that the risk of feedback was very small and they were also better able to deal with wind noise.”
The final microphone set up included four d:dicate™ 4011 Cardioid Microphones with active MMP-E cables, which were used to capture the sound of the choir, plus four more for the orchestra.
“These included some with MMP-C compact preamplifiers, which I chose because they had less visual impact,” Proutière says. “All these microphones are exceptionally accurate with very low distortion. They are also extremely directional, which meant we could pick up the sound of the singers and instruments and not the ambient traffic noise.”
The Archbishop conducting the mass was eventually fitted with a d:fine™ 4066 Omnidirectional Headset Microphone, plus a d:screet™ 4060™ Omnidirectional lapel microphone for added security, just in case Proutière lost the headset signal. The other priests had access to two 45cm d:screet™ SC4098 Supercardioid podium microphones, which was also chosen for its directionality and rejection of background and wind noise.
“The sound from all of the microphones was perfect, despite the wind, and we didn’t have any issues with feedback,” Proutière says.
Working outside the confines of a church building gave Proutière more freedom than usual when it came to choosing a sound system.
“Our main problem was the lack of damping tarps, as the Abbey ruins around the stage had to be visible,” he says. “We were also expecting a large number of spectators filling an area with a depth of over 50 meters, so I needed a sound system with real kick.”
To this end, he chose a Y10 Adamson line array with eight speakers on each side, plus full-frontal Adamson M15 speakers and two Wave speakers to brighten up the front row. These were calibrated by his colleague Julien Benezet and he used a Yamaha CL5 to control the entire kit.
Over 5,000 people attended the outdoor mass in Marmoutiers, while as many as 3,000 have regularly attended the special masses for St. Martin that have taken place over the summer in Tours Cathedral.
“I’m using DPA microphones all the time now, and on many different shows,” Proutière adds. “I love the modularity of DPA’s range and I’m really keen on the phase response and natural sound I get from every capsule. These microphones are particularly recognizable in the high frequencies – even with your eyes closed you can tell when you are using a DPA. The sound they capture is very true to the performance, which as a musician as well as a sound engineer is something I really appreciate.”
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