The 61st Annual Grammy Awards hosted debut Grammy performances for artists such as Travis Scott, Brandi Carlile and Shawn Mendes, who all performed with the help of Sennheiser and Neumann products.
Travis Scott performed a medley of songs from his Grammy-nominated album Astroworld, singing through a Sennheiser Digital 6000 / MD 9235 microphone capsule combination. His performances of ‘Stop Trying to be God’ and ‘No Bystanders’ saw him climb a 15’ high steel cage onstage before leaping into a mosh pit, all while rapping through his trusty MD 9235 capsule.
Shawn Mendes was the second performer of the night, performing his Grammy-nominated hit ‘In My Blood’, starting the track on solo piano before picking up a guitar and turning up the beat. Mendes’ vocals travelled through a Sennheiser SKM 2000 transmitter, coupled with an MMD 945 dynamic, super-cardioid capsule.
Midway through the award ceremony, Brandi Carlile performed a passionate rendition of her Grammy-winning song ‘The Joke’, through a custom gold-coloured Neumann KMS 105 condenser microphone. Carlile, who won three Grammy awards, sang alongside long-time collaborators Phil and Tim Hanseroth – both of whom performed backing vocals through Sennheiser evolution e935 microphones.
Travis Scott transitioned to the Sennheiser Digital 6000 System during his Astroworld tour, which was also used during his Grammy performance. Monitor engineer Justin Hoffmann said the Digital 6000 delivers an advantage in an era of wireless uncertainty: “Wireless-wise, everything is getting tighter, so you’ve got to go the digital route nowadays,” he explained. “For me, reliability is the only thing that really matters because if it doesn’t work, the show doesn’t happen. The Digital 6000 has really made our experience much nicer.”
In terms of the MD 9235 mic, Hoffman expressed: “[It] is the quintessential rapper mic capsule, since there is almost no tonal change when an artist cups the mic and it works really well out in front of a PA. If an artist likes to cup the mic that capsule is it – the only one.”
Hoffmann said he’s been using Sennheiser exclusively for the past six years for all the artists he works with, and that Scott was impressed on first hearing the Digital 6000 microphone system. “The moment I gave Travis this mic, he said ‘It sounds like the studio in my ears.’”
While Mendes’ vocal performance relied on a Sennheiser 2000 Series handheld transmitter and an EM-3732-II receiver, the artist has already decided to upgrade to the Digital 6000 system. “The main catalyst on our moving to the Digital 6000 has to do with the way that the wireless market is shifting,” recalled Tom Wood, FOH engineer for Mendes. “With the Digital 6000, intermodulation is no longer an issue and the unit is so much more flexible.”
Mendes’ monitor engineer Mike Flaherty concurred: “Essentially it is the increased bandwidth on the Digital 6000 that is the big game changer, but it also gives us extended audio range. Sennheiser’s support has been superb and we’ve been able to demo the unit wherever we’re touring in the world. Right now, we are just looking for a moment to make the switch.”
Wood thought the Sennheiser MMD 945 capsule complemented Mendes’ vocal style: “Shawn has a rich, powerful voice and we all agree that the MMD 945 suits this. He has always liked that mic’s response, and even though he’ll play guitar and be walking around on the stage, it has great projection. Tonally, it just complements the dynamics in his voice, whether he is really digging into it or not.”
In terms of Carlile: “She is known for that microphone, and every performance you’ve ever seen is her singing into a Neumann KMS 105,” commented Sean Quackenbush, Carlile’s FOH engineer. “It just works perfectly for her voice, and anytime we try another mic, we always go back. I love it and can’t go anywhere without it.”
During the Grammy performance, Quackenbush endeavoured to reproduce as much of the colours and textures from the recording as possible, so he brought one of his original Sennheiser MD 409 dynamic microphones to mic up the lead guitar. “I use these very sparingly, but I thought it would be special to bring them out for this gig.”
“Whatever we are doing, we always try to serve the same result – which is nothing short of the best performance that we can give,” concluded Wood. “At the Grammys, there is a certain kind of magic in the air and there is no changing the fact that this is the biggest music spectacle in the world.”