Los Angeles, February 23, 2010 – This year, “Music's Biggest Night” drew the widest television audience in years. An estimated 25 million people viewed the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards ceremony, broadcasted live from the Staples Center in Los Angeles with performances and production values resembling more of a Cirque de Soleil atmosphere than a typical awards show. With Sennheiser users Beyoncé, Pink, Black Eyed Peas, Zac Brown Band, Dave Matthews Band, Lady Antebellum, Robert Flack, Andrea Bocelli, and a host of presenters using an unprecedented number of Sennheiser and Neumann microphones, the Grammy Awards reflected the position Sennheiser has achieved with artists and engineers from all corners of the world embracing all musical genres.
Sennheiser Global Relations artists Pink and Beyoncé delivered breathtaking performances. Worldwide audiences marveled at the spectacle of the water-soaked, ribbon-clad Pink spiraling above the audience singing her hit “Glitter in the Air” into the new Sennheiser 2000 series transmitter outfitted with a special dynamic MMD 935-1 silver capsule. “We prefer a dynamic cardioid capsule because it reduces pick-up from the speakers, with less feedback,” explains Pink's monitor engineer Horst Hartmann. Pink also used Sennheiser ew 300 IEM G2 personal monitors, with a condom-wrapped bodypack for added water protection. Kicking off her scintillating medley of “If I Were A Boy/You Oughta Know,” the iconically beautiful Beyoncé traveled between the Staples Center's main and satellite stages using her chrome-plated Sennheiser SKM 5200 with the MD 5235 capsule in a perfectly choreographed and executed song-and-dance performance. Beyoncé collected six Grammy awards, including “Song of the Year,” making her the first woman to win that many Grammys in a single night.
Sporting metal-flaked Sennheiser 2000 series microphones outfitted with MMD 935 1 capsules, the Black Eyed Peas rocked out with their anthems “Imma Be/I Gotta Feeling” and took home three Grammys. “We like the high-power 100 mW performance of the 2000s,” says monitor engineer Ryan Cecil, “because they deliver a clean and clear sound with no wireless issues. No one out there is doing as good a job as Sennheiser. Their support is fantastic! Personal monitors for the Peas are a quartet of G2 systems that have worked well for us for many years.”
In quintessential jam band mode, Dave Matthews, using a microphone that his audio crew has favored for many years—the Neumann KMS 140—performed the band's hit single “You and Me.” “The 140 sounds wonderful,” affirms DMB's monitor engineer Ian Kuhn. “Aside from its superior audio quality, we like the integral high-pass filter that reduces pops and thumps. For TV broadcast, you cannot use a pop shield, so the KMS 140 is perfect for that application. We also use Sennheiser ew 300 IEM G2 personal monitors, which have been very reliable. They are the best-sounding system out there.”
Other notable Grammy Awards won by Sennheiser users included Kings of Leon (“Record of the Year”) and Eminem (“Best Rap Album”). Lady Antebellum walked away with the Grammy for “Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals” and sang their chart-topping hit single “Need You Now” in perfect harmony through Sennheiser's SKM 5200 mics with MD 5235 and KK 105-S capsules. Named “Best New Artist” of the year, the Zac Brown Band, who also used SKM 5200 mics with MD 5235 capsules, proved you can be a “little bit country and a little bit rock â€˜n roll” with their rousing rendition of “America the Beautiful,” transitioning into their hit song “Chicken Fried.”
“Zac likes to use the full width of the stage and also get right down in front of the crowd,” states Eric Roderick, production manager and front-of-house mixer for the Zac Brown Band. “With the Sennheiser wireless instrument system we had on his acoustic guitar, Zac could go wherever he wanted with absolutely no interference. Sennheiser makes it easy, and it was all positive, from rehearsals to live performance.”
This year, every celebrity that presented from the Staples Center's satellite stage used a Sennheiser SKM 5200 handheld wireless mic with Neumann KK 105-S capsule. According to Mike Abbott, audio supervisor for the Grammy Awards, “The decision to use 5200 handhelds resulted from discussions between myself, Tom Holmes [broadcast mixer] and Dave Bellamy from Soundtronics Wireless,” who handled RF coordination. “The Sennheiser mics are robust, offer great RF performance, and sound excellent. That's an award-winning combination!”
When there are so many artists sharing common stages and each requiring their own monitor mix, engineers struggle with frequency coordination and sufficient transmitter power. Noted Tom Pesa, one of ATK Audiotek's monitor mixers at the Grammys, “Sennheiser ew 300 IEM G2s performed flawlessly. TV award shows are fairly hostile environments, full of potential RF interference making it a real challenge to transmit monitor mixes. We used Sennheiser's G2 IEM bodypacks, coupled with SR 3256 transmitters that put out 100 milliwatts, giving the artists the freedom to move from stage to stage without problems,” he continued. “The G2 series has become the standard in what an artist has come to expect. These units are in everyone's riders nowadays.” Working monitors with Pesa was Mike Parker (ATK) who handled stage left.
Sennheiser also played a major role in securing the sound of the backline at the Grammy Awards. Sennheiser's e 602 and e 904 models captured floor and rack toms respectively, the classic MD 421 II dynamic mics were used to cover toms, horns, bass rigs and other instruments, while Sennheiser's MKH series was used for overheads and audience ambience miking.