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Insights On Grammy Night’s Grammy Mics

Los Angeles, CA (February 25, 2009)--Music's biggest night--the Recording Academy's Grammy Award telecast from the Staples Center in Los Angeles in February--provides an annual opportunity to shine the spotlight not only on the musical talent but also on professional audio manufacturers.

Shown is Justin Timerberlake,
performing at the 2009 GRAMMY
Awards with Audio-Technica’s
AEW-T4100 Cardioid Dynamic
Microphone/Transmitter. Photo
by Kevin Mazur/WireImage.Los Angeles, CA (February 25, 2009)–Music’s biggest night–the Recording Academy’s Grammy Award telecast from the Staples Center in Los Angeles in February–provides an annual opportunity to shine the spotlight not only on the musical talent but also on professional audio manufacturers.

Microphones are the most visible item of audio technology at any Grammy Award show, occupying as much screen time as the presenters and performing artists. This year’s show, the 51st annual event, featured even more artists than usual, as show producers managed to squeeze 30 songs performed on 22 different setups across four different stages into the three-and-a-half-hour telecast, an increase of 25 percent over last year. As a result, more than 600 mics were required for the many live setups and hosts, including four-dozen channels of wireless microphones, coordinated by RF experts Soundtronics Wireless of Burbank, CA.

AKG mics put in an appearance with a duet by Kanye West and Estelle on “American Boy” and with Neil Diamond, performing his classic, “Sweet Caroline.” AKG WMS4500 wireless systems supported by D5 microphones were also put to use at Diamond’s 2009 MusiCares Person of the Year performance earlier in the weekend. AKG additionally showcased a diverse group of wired microphones at the Grammy telecast, including eight C414, two D112, five D40 microphone systems, six D5 handheld vocal mics, five C430 condenser, six 518M micro series and seven PCC170 Crown Boundary microphones.

Audio-Technica, at the show for the twelfth year in a row, supplied over 250 microphones. Artists who performed using Audio-Technica’s Artist Elite 5000 Series UHF wireless system, with the AEW-T5400 handheld and AEW-R5200 receivers, included Jay-Z; Taylor Swift; Estelle; T.I.; Lil Wayne; Stevie Wonder; Boyz II Men; Al Green; and Jamie Foxx, Duke Fakir and Ne-Yo in a tribute to the Four Tops. Audio-Technica endorser Kenny Chesney used a wired A-T AE3300 cardioid condenser handheld and Thom Yorke of Radiohead used a AE5400 cardioid condenser. Justin Timberlake performed using A-T’s wireless AEW-T4100 cardioid dynamic RF mic. AE5400s were available for backing vocals.

A-T wired mics also proliferated across the backline, with AT4050 multi-pattern condensers for guitar cabinet and overheads; AT4040 cardioid condensers for overheads; AE5100 cardioid condenser instrument microphone for ride cymbal, hi-hat, and percussion; ATM250 hypercardioid dynamic instrument microphone for Leslie cabinet and guitar cabinet; BP4025 X/Y stereo field recording microphone for percussion; AE2500 dual-element cardioid instrument microphone for kick drum; AT4047/SV cardioid condenser microphone for guitar cabinet; ATM450 cardioid condenser instrument microphone for ride cymbal; and ATM350 cardioid condenser clip-on microphone for horns, congas and strings.

UK singer/songwriter Adele, who won two Grammy Awards on the night, performed using a Neumann KMS 105 nickel-plated wired vocal microphone. The Jonas Brothers joined Stevie Wonder for a medley with the help of Sennheiser SKM 5200 RF handheld vocal mics outfitted with MD 5235 capsules and wired evolution 935s for background vocals. Miley Cyrus used the same RF vocal mic combination for her duet with Taylor Swift. Sixteen channels of Sennheiser’s ew 300 G2 IEMs were used throughout the telecast.

Onstage, over 40 Sennheiser evolution series e 602 II and two-dozen e 604 wired mics for drums and percussion, as well as eight each of MKH 8040 and MKH 416 model shotgun mics, were available for the production, together with Neumann TLM 103, TLM 49 and KM 184 instrument mics. Sennheiser e 906 and MD 421 II and Neumann KM 184 microphones were also featured.

Shure accounted for a dozen RF mic channels devoted to musical performances at the show, comprising UHF-R systems with a combination of KSM9 and SM58 capsules chosen by a performers such as Jennifer Hudson, Coldplay, Kid Rock, Carrie Underwood, John Mayer, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Keith Urban, M.I.A., T.I., Kanye West, and Jay-Z. U2’s Bono, in the show opener, wielded a UHF-R handheld transmitter with an SM58 capsule, while Sir Paul McCartney, and Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, were all on hardwired SM58s.

A Holophone H2-PRO single point-source 5.1 microphone was used to capture the most enthusiastic audience response, supplementing two-dozen mics deployed around the arena. This was the third year the mic had been used on the Grammys telecast, although only the first time by Tom Holmes, returning as production mixer for his third consecutive year.

The H2-PRO was installed eight feet above the audience in the rear center section of the Staples Center. “I have never used the H2-PRO before this show, but have heard from many people that have had great results,” said Holmes. “I wanted to see for myself how it performs, and was very pleased with the results.”





Shure Inc.