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Earthworks FlexMics Used for Pope Francis’ Midday Prayer

RCI Systems Upgrades Podium Microphones in St. Matthew’s Cathedral with Earthworks FM500 FlexMic™ Podium Microphones

Milford, NH – During Pope Francis’s recent visit to the United States, Beltsville, Maryland-based RCI Systems provided sound for the Pope’s midday prayer service, which was telecast from inside St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington, D.C. on September 23rd.

Bob Capotosto, Systems Design Engineer for RCI Systems, was the project manager for providing sound for the midday prayer service. RCI Systems provided the audio feed for NBC, who televised the event, using Earthworks FM500 podium microphones.

“For this event we used three Earthworks FM500 microphones mounted on the podiums, one FM500 for the handheld boom mic, in addition to backup mics in case of problems,” explains Capotosto. “This service was held in a very reverberant room, and we needed to use microphones that would reproduce the human voice very clearly and distinctly for both the broadcast and inside the Cathedral. All of the sound emanated from three podiums and a handheld boom that an assistant placed in front of the Pope when he was speaking away from the podium.”

RCI Systems had upgraded the podium microphones in St. Matthew’s Cathedral in June 2014. “They wanted to replace their existing podium microphones because they were having some gain before feedback and tonality issues,” explains Capotosto.

With these challenges in mind, Capotosto selected Earthworks to help solve some of the problems the Cathedral was facing. “We took in some Earthworks FM500 podium microphones for a demonstration in their facility, and there was a noticeable improvement when we plugged them in. It was huge. In addition, the Earthworks mics required little to no EQ to achieve a noticeable quality improvement across the entire spectrum of the speaking voice range. They also used the microphones for a cantor who was singing.  We installed FM500s on three podiums and two others were on stands that could be moved wherever they needed them.”

“When it came time to do the Pope’s prayer service in September of this year, we just did more of the same, because we knew that the Earthworks FM500s worked very well. The people at St. Matthews were quite pleased with the microphone install, because when we did the initial demo, they could really hear the improvement in sound quality. Once we did the comparison demo between their existing mics and the Earthworks microphones, the significant improvement was obvious to everyone.”

“This previous experience with Earthworks podium microphones had proven that we could get excellent results in the Cathedral,” concluded Capotosto. “We liked the frequency response and the tonality of the Earthworks podium microphones. They are extremely natural with excellent off-axis response. Also, very little EQ was needed to make the microphones sound really great. Based upon our previous experience with Earthworks microphones, we wanted to provide this excellent sound for the Pope’s prayer service. Everyone was most pleased with the results.”

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