Favored by Entertainment
Weekly to win, contestant
Adam Lambert belts into
a chrome Sennheiser SKM 5200
wireless microphone with an
MD 5235 capsule.
Hollywood, CA (May 20, 2009)-The next American Idol winner will be announced tonight, but as far as Sennheiser is concerned, the company has already won, as its chrome-plated SKM 5200 handheld wireless vocal mics have been on screen, front and center, all season long.
"The show producers like the way the chrome mics look," explains the show's mixer, Randy Faustino. "But they're the same mic." Faustino has been using the SKM 5200 RF handheld in combination with the MD 5235 dynamic capsule ever since Sennheiser introduced it. Along with fellow television sound mixers Gerald "Butch" McKarge and J. Mark King, he established Creative Sound Solutions in 2007 and the trio have since worked with Sennheiser mics on a variety of shows, including The Next Great American Band, Rock Star and Rock The Cradle.
After using the SKM 5200/MD 5235 combination on FOX's Don't Forget the Lyrics, Faustino adopted it for American Idol in 2008. "I love that mic," he enthuses, "and the continual support I get from Dawn Birr, Sennheiser's product manager for professional products in Old Lyme and Thom Salisbury, their western regional sales manager located in Los Angeles. Their quick response time and technical input really takes some of the pressure off."
The Sennheiser RF vocal mics are very forgiving of the contestants, many of whom have not yet had an opportunity to perfect their technique, Faustino points out. "I've worked with people like Jeffrey Osborne, James Ingram, Patti Austin, Whitney Houston and Luther Vandross; people that have incredible mic technique. But overall the SKM 5200 is a really good mic, and it works for the contestants. They don't have great mic technique, but they're learning. If you go back to the first shows, you'll notice they get better as the weeks progress. Plus, they get notes from us--'hey, pull back a little when you go into that scream!'"
Faustino uses a mix of Sennheiser evolution 600 and 900 series mics on the show's backing band, which is led by former Whitney Houston touring musical director Rickey Minor. Drum mics include an e 602 II on the kick and e 604s on the toms, with e 914 condensers on overheads and hi-hat. Guitar cabinets are miked with e 906 dynamic cardioids. Backing vocals are handled by wired e 935s, a model that Faustino also favors for his talkback mic. "You can just plug a 935 into a console and go, wow, that sounds good already," he says. "You start doing a little bit of EQ and you can really sweeten it up."
With the visual appeal being as important to show producers as the audio quality, Sennheiser vocal mics, especially the wireless handhelds, have a further advantage, he adds. "You'll notice we don't use the windscreen, but we don't have any problems with popping. We love that!"