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Masjid al-Haram Upgrades to Sennheiser Microphone Systems


Masjid al-Haram, the holiest shrine in Islam, is now visited by over three million Hajj pilgrims annually. In order to provide the best facilities to the legions of devout Muslims, the Custodian of Two Holy Mosques Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz undertook the expansion of the Holy Mosque and associated elements. A part of this project has been the complete upgrade of the Mecca Mokabariah facility's microphones to the latest digital models from Sennheiser. These industry leading microphones are being used at all prayer locations around the Kaaba, and in the Mokabariah studios from where all audio content and prayers originating from Mecca are broadcast across the world.

The major advantage of the upgrade has been that though on-going construction relating to the expansion has required shifting of the microphones to locations that are large distances away from the studios, the quality and signal purity remains unaffected as it is now captured digitally. The new system also provides the flexibility of utilising analogue microphones with the same microphone head.

The installation was undertaken by First Gulf Company (FGC) in collaboration with the Saudi Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) and was carried out with the objective of improving speech intelligibility and providing the highest quality of audio across the holy site. Orlando Castro, Director of Engineering and Pre-Sales at FGC said: “Daily prayers held at Masjid al-Haram are heard by thousands of Muslims within the mosque and by millions across the world. It was therefore imperative for us to provide the very best audio clarity and the new installation enables exactly this.”

The decision to select Sennheiser's digital microphones for the project was based on FGC's long standing relationship with the brand. “Through years of experience and practical application, we have found that Sennheiser's audio solutions meet and exceed the quality, reliability and durability standards demanded by the broadcast industry,” said Orlando. SBC shared this trust in the brand and found the microphones to be fit-for-purpose.

FGC and SBC have utilised Sennheiser's versatile MKH 8040 cardioid microphones paired with MZD 8000 digital modules to deliver clear, warm, and vivid digitally converted sound. Unique to the MKH-8000 microphone series is Sennheiser's range of non-scratch, non-reflective Nextel finish stands that feature integrated cabling and these have been used in Masjid al-Haram to deliver an aesthetically appealing solution. Also, in order to take full advantage of all of the capabilities of these digital format microphones, a Neumann DMI-8 has been deployed giving the team the ability to power and centrally control the gain of the microphones remotely while encoding embedded data within their signals.

FGC will now work together with Sennheiser to deliver comprehensive systems trainings that will enable the team at Masjid al-Haram to utilize the new system to its utmost potential.

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