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DiGiCo and Sennheiser’s clean sweep at Brit Awards 2017

Katy Perry’s SKM 5200-II was customised in ‘Dollar Bill Green’ with real currency wrapped on the body and battery slot of the transmitter

The Brit Awards was broadcast live to around 5.4 million viewers on British television channel ITV1 this February. Britannia Row Productions was responsible for the audio system and for the last three years, they have deployed DiGiCo digital mixing consoles as part of their set up. But this year, they relied solely on the British manufacturer.

Two DiGiCo SD7s were positioned at front of house, manned by Josh Lloyd, lead technician for Britrow, with Chris Coxhead using two of DiGiCo’s new SD12 consoles for the hosts, presenters, winners and guests. A further two SD7s were at the monitor position for the performers, manned by Wayne Sargeant and Jimmy Nicholson.

“As well as having a live audience at The O2, the Brits is a live-to-air television show with a large global audience, so we needed to make sure we had full redundancy,” explains Lloyd. “Consequently, I had a main and a backup SD7, two SD Racks with an A and B set of inputs, plus a Mini Rack for all playback, radio mics etc, at FOH.”

Adds Lloyd: “I had a further SD Rack to handle effects and local inputs and outputs, so all the I/O was on the optical network if I needed to switch consoles. I also deployed a DiGiCo Orange box for the Waves setup, which we ran on an external computer; it really helped us because both engines on the SD7s could see Waves as well as allowing the backup console to see it in case of a change over. The OB truck received analogue splits on stage, where they mixed the show separately for the broadcast element.”

The monitor position SD7s were set up as an A/B system, allowing them to flip between artists, checking in ear monitors and for preshow checks. For playback and radio mics, each console had its own Mini Rack, allowing them to see all inputs at all times.

“The Brits was a fantastic experience for me, due in large part to having DiGiCo consoles available and their support staff on site,” concurs Dave Rupsch, monitor engineer for Katy Perry. “I was easily able to load my preset folder containing EQ, dynamics, and effects settings and be up and running quickly, while being able to maintain the complex show infrastructure of a live television broadcast.”

Sennheiser also supported the production of the event for the 15th year in a row, with its artist relations team providing several racks of wireless microphone and IEM equipment, and engineer Andrew Lillywhite assisting with RF co-ordination expertise.

For this RF-heavy environment, Sennheiser’s flagship Digital 9000 series microphones were deployed for all presenters. SKM 9000 transmitters with EM 9046 receivers and ME 9004 capsules ensured crystal-clear audio and trouble-free operation, with the unique suspension mount design of the ME 9004 capsule delivering a fantastic condenser sound with no handling noise.

Several artists also chose Sennheiser, with Little Mix opting for SKM 5200-IIs with EM 3732 receivers and MD 5235 capsules and Bruno Mars and Robbie Williams using the same combination. Katy Perry’s SKM 5200-II was customised in ‘Dollar Bill Green’ with real currency wrapped on the body and battery slot of the transmitter, again with EM 3732 receiver and MD 5235 capsule.

Digital 9000 hit the spot for Ed Sheeran, with a combination of SKM 9000 transmitters, EM 9046 receiver and MD 9235 capsules for Ed’s vocals, guest vocal and backing vocals. He also had an SK 9000 bodypack transmitter with a custom-built cable for acoustic guitars, as the companderless operation of the 9000 Series system gives a remarkably true sounding acoustic guitar with excellent transient frequency response and lifelike dynamics.

“This year’s Brit Awards was a packed show featuring ten artists, six of which were fully live and four were live vocal to track, all of which had a high RF count,” explains Colin Pink, who headed up the audio team.

“Sennheiser provided all of the eight 9000 Series handheld mics for the presenters and ten 5200 systems for the artists, as well as another 9000 Series system for Ed Sheeran,” he continues. “On top of this, they supplied a ‘get out of jail’ toolbox which came in handy for extra guitar packs and further presenter bodypacks. We used a total of 28 IEM systems on the show with approximately 60 packs, also provided by Sennheiser, their 2000 Series being the preferred option for nine out of the ten acts.”

Second picture: Ed Sheeran performing at the 2017 Brit Awards with Digital 9000 (photo credit: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)