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Now hear this: St. Peter’s Basilica upgrades its sound system

Pope Francis presides over a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome on July 23, 2023, for the World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly. / Pablo Esparza/EWTN

Rome Newsroom, Jul 23, 2023 / 08:30 am (CNA).

A common struggle for elderly Mass-goers is being able to hear in church. It seems, then, that the unveiling of a new sound system in St. Peter’s Basilica couldn’t have had better timing. It was inaugurated on July 23, after 10 months of work, just in time for the papal Mass for the third World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly.

Some 80 new speakers and a state-of-the-art digital system replaced the previous sound system, installed nearly 25 years ago in the lead-up to the year 2000 jubilee.

The new system allows for “precise” and “perfect” sound, cutting down on the echo and reverberation that is typical of such a large space, according to the lead architect, Carlo Carbone.

With the new system, the sound seems to come from the altar, giving the congregation a more “natural” experience during the liturgies, he said. Voices and singing are heard more precisely as the sound distribution has been improved. “Before this renovation, there was an unnatural volume,” Carbone said. “The sound was overwhelming, as if coming from everywhere.”

The Dicastery for Communication’s Technology Department worked with the technical offices of the Fabbrica di San Pietro and Bose Professional to bring about the upgrade.

According to Vatican News, Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, the archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica, said the project was “a great team effort, a beautiful synergy,” with the collaboration of experts from various fields.

Much of the work was done in the evening hours after the basilica was closed to the public. And it was no small effort. The sub-floor wiring that had accumulated over the last 70 years was replaced with 200 kilometers (about 125 miles) of fibers. The sound system now allows for some 20 distinct areas that can be engaged simultaneously or separately, depending on the celebration. It also seamlessly interfaces with the radio and television broadcasting systems.

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