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 (the former King) 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, although ongoing construction relating to the expansion has required the microphones be relocated further 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 commented: "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.”
He added: “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."
FGC and SBC utilised Sennheiser's MKH 8040 cardioid microphones paired with MZD 8000 digital modules to deliver clear, warm, and vivid digitally converted sound. In order to take 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 with Sennheiser to deliver comprehensive systems training to enable the team at Masjid al-Haram to use the new system to its utmost potential.