The high point of Pope Francis’ three-day, early autumn visit to Lithuania was an open-air Holy Mass celebrated for more than 100,000 of the faithful at Sàntakos Park in the city of Kaunas. For audio reinforcement of the momentous event, Lithuanian rental company NGR Service deployed a massive system of 228 Meyer Sound loudspeakers anchored by LEO Family line arrays.
“The biggest challenges we faced were the overall size and irregular contours of the audience area,” says Valdemaras Karpuška, a partner in NGR Service who also served as location manager and live broadcast sound engineer. “The area we had to cover was around 320 meters wide by 360 meters deep, and it wasn’t a regular ‘shoe box’ venue. There were numerous obstacles, such as trees and raised embankments, that we needed to work around.”
Front of house engineer Tomas Ždanovičius, also a partner in NGR Service, took the lead on sound system design for the event. “We started our planning by using the MAPP XT software, which is an irreplaceable tool for predicting coverage,” he recalls. “Once we knew where we stood with coverage, we assembled a system based around loudspeakers from the LEO Family — LEO, LYON, and LEOPARD — along with M Series and UltraSeries speakers. With the delay integration, all pass filters and other options built into the GALAXY and Galileo processors, we had no problem making the whole system coherent with practically no delay and phase differences in the whole venue.”
The four main front arrays each comprised eight LEO and four LYON line array loudspeakers. An additional 14 towers for fill and delay systems carried combined total counts of 52 LEOPARD, 60 MILO, 24 MICA and 40 M’elodie line array loudspeakers.
Ancillary fill and foldback systems utilized JM-1P (6), UPQ-1P (2), UPA-1P (4), and UPJ-1P (2) loudspeakers along with MJF-210 (4) stage monitors. Seven Galileo GALAXY and eight Galileo 616 processors provided system drive and optimization.
“The Meyer Sound line arrays have a convenient rigging system that let us get the job done quickly and easily,” adds Karpuška. “Also, the wide frequency range of the arrays gave us full music bandwidth without using subwoofers. We had faster set-up involving less equipment, and with lower power consumption. And the final coverage was at 99% of what we had predicted. So we were very happy with the results.”
In addition to celebration of the Mass and a homily from Pope Francis, the complete program also included music from an 80 piece orchestra, a 300-voice choir, two vocal soloists and an ensemble of eight traditional national instruments.
“On the main arrays, the music and the voice of Pope Francis and the other speakers came through as rich, clean and clear as it could possibly be,” says Ždanovičius. “Personally, I could not hear any sound from the delays, but the positive feedback from the organizers told us all we needed to know. We were thrilled with what we heard.”
Ramūnas Alenskas of Sonus, Meyer Sound’s Lithuanian distributor, played an important coordinating role throughout the preparation and implementation stages of the event. “I think it shows the importance of good planning, and the quality of the equipment from Meyer Sound, that every aspect of the project — from rigging through final tuning — ran smoothly and on time. We’ve had a number of compliments from the organizers, telling us how pleased they were to work with NGR Service and Meyer Sound on this extraordinary event.”
Two fully mirrored DiGiCo SD12 digital mixing consoles were utilized for the live reinforcement mixes of the event. Principal podium microphone was a Shure KSM8 dual diaphragm dynamic microphone.
The visit from Pope Francis held special significance for Lithuanians as it had been 25 years since the last papal visit, by then Pope John Paul II, later canonized as a saint. The events also coincided with the centennial celebration of Lithuania’s restoration of independence, adding to the historical import of the apostolic visit to this predominantly Catholic nation.