Sennheiser @ 47th Annual Grammy Awards

Franz Ferdinand.

18 February 2005

USA - Sennheiser RF and wired microphones and wireless personal monitor systems played a significant part in the 47th Annual Grammy Awards show telecast, held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. In addition to the wide array of Sennheiser and Neumann equipment used onstage, this year, for the very first time, the stereo and 5.1 surround broadcast audio was enhanced with the addition of more than 36 audience microphones. Capturing the crowd ambiance were four Sennheiser shotgun microphones, plus Neumann cardioid compact miniature and large diaphragm mics.

Wireless systems, provided and overseen by frequency coordinator Dave Bellamy and his Soundtronics RF service company, included Sennheiser SKM5000-N handhelds fitted with Neumann KK 105-S elements for a variety of artists, including Eve, performing with Gwen Stefani, Tim McGraw, and Joss Stone. Two-thirds of the 24 RF personal monitoring systems provided by Soundtronics, 12 for stage left and 12 for stage right, were Sennheiser. Evolution wired mics and the choice of Grammy nominee, Franz Ferdinand, performing their hit "Take Me Out" with the popular e935 for lead vocals, e840 for backups, e602 for kicks and the MD421 for toms.

For backline miking, the majority of artists made use of Sennheiser's industry standard Evolution Series e602 kick drum mic, while e602 tom mics plus Neumann TLM 103 large diaphragm mics for the orchestra were also in use.

Klaus Landsberg, a seasoned broadcast mixer from shows such as American Idol and The Ryan Seacrest Show was hired for the sole purpose of mixing the audience microphones. To capture the enthusiastic response of the various artists' fans and radio station promo winners, the Sennheiser and Neumann mics were positioned at locations throughout the Staples Center arena seating areas.

Landsberg comments: "I had 22 Neumann KM 184s, two Neumann TLM 103s at the back, and four Sennheiser MKH416s." He mixed multiple stereo pairs of audience mics that were then sent to Ed Green, mixing the Standard Definition stereo and Dolby Pro Logic II audio, and to Paul Sandweiss, who mixed the 5.1 production sound for HDTV viewers. "You can get a lot of dynamics from the KM 184 cardioid compact miniature mics," reports Landsberg, "and they're a very rich-sounding mic. They won't overload the front end on you. They have such a great pattern and they sound so smooth." Landsberg prefers the Neumann KM 184 for applications such as this. "Years ago, on another show, I recall, hanging KM 184s in place of some other audience mics. The producer got on the intercom and said, 'That's the best audience we've ever had!'"

The Sennheiser shotgun microphones also had a place in the mix, he continues, although their pattern is a lot more focused. "The 416s are great, they get some good throw." According to 5.1 surround sound mixer Sandweiss, the idea to mike-up the audience came from a live-to-tape broadcast from a Staples Center show last year. Producer Ken Ehrlich, also a producer on the Grammy telecast, was so impressed with the sound of the audience in the post-production mix that he requested special arrangements to be made to capture the live audience at the Grammy Awards show, Sandweiss reports.

Noted Michael Abbott, audio coordinator for the 47th Annual Grammys. "After the show, I received a call from the Grammy producers who said they were thrilled with the audience response we captured for this show."

(Sarah Rushton-Read)


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