Sennheiser, P!NK Soars During 56th Grammys
The 56th GRAMMY Awards featured exquisite performances by P!NK, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Madonna, Beyoncé, Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert and Queens of the Stone Age – all of whom used Sennheiser microphones and wireless systems.
Hosted for the third time by LL Cool J, the spectacular event was telecast live from the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles on January 26, drawing no less than 28.5 million viewers around the world.
Perhaps the most dramatic performance during the evening was from P!NK, whose flawless vocal performance was only matched by her breathtaking mid-air acrobatics before a live audience of nearly 20,000. For the duration of her aerial segment, she used a custom earpiece with an integrated boom microphone built to specification by Sennheiser – the result of a highly collaborative project that helped her engineers achieve all the technical aspects required by the performance.
“There is so much physicality in P!NK’s show with her spinning and flying around that we needed a reliable microphone and IEM that sounded great and would be as unobtrusive as possible,” commented Jon Lewis, monitor engineer for P!NK. “So Sennheiser worked with our engineer Horst Hartmann to create a custom design and integrate the microphone with the earpiece, providing both stability and stellar audio. The earpiece features a single driver which provides plenty of definition without any significant ear fatigue.” The microphone features a Sennheiser HSP 4 capsule with a cardioid polar pattern.
“Because of the circus aspect of P!NK’s performance, she is in a totally different environment at any given time,” Lewis continued. “Whether she is being flung in the middle of the air in front of the PA or in the middle of the stage, it is reassuring to know that she has a reliable microphone and an IEM that is her primary reference throughout the show.” Following the aerial performance, P!NK switched to a Sennheiser SKM 2000 transmitter coupled with a custom MD 9235 capsule.
Delivering on a promise of reliability, versatility and performance
Dave Bellamy, who already has 16 GRAMMY Award events under his belt, handled the on-site RF coordination, deploying a total of 22 channels of Sennheiser wireless during the show including the units used by P!NK: “We used a Phoenix 8 antenna system with 10 arrays, put in place specifically to handle the in-air acrobatics,” he says. “The only thing I need to be concerned with was the effect of the costume and body on her transmitter. In this application, the Sennheiser SK 5212 propagates extremely well and is very compact in size. It isn‘t affected as much when being used on the body as other transmitters and I like that.”
On the receiving side of the signal, Bellamy had several Sennheiser EM 3732-IIs, which he says is a robust, reliable receiver. ”I like the way we can change frequency ranges to about anywhere we want to go,” he observes. “I am using channels 62 and 67 because of the high number of RF devices in the show – these are the only receivers that will hit these upper range frequencies on the market, and I really need them.”
In addition to the wireless channels used for performances, Bellamy also utilized two channels for LL Cool J, who presented through a Sennheiser SKM 5200 transmitter coupled with an MD 5235 dynamic microphone, as well as an SK 5212-II bodypack transmitter. “The bodypack transmitter is working just as good as the handheld transmitter,“ says Bellamy. “Having this level of predictability means I can sleep at night!”
Several Sennheiser MKH 416 shotgun mics and Neumann KM 184 condenser microphones were used to capture sounds of the audience, and were later mixed with performances, providing millions of music fans the next best thing to being there. “We use the MKH 416s on the front line, and the KM 184s as surround mics,” explains Tom Holmes, production mixer for the GRAMMY Awards. “We always use these microphones because they sound great and don’t get in the way of the show. Our ultimate goal is to have listeners at home feel like they are in the same environment.“
Support Where and When It Is Needed
During such a high-profile event as the GRAMMY Awards, or while on tour in just about any location around the world, Lewis and the rest of his team depend on Sennheiser’s unwavering support, which is delivered personably and consistently at a global level. “We’ve got such a great relationship with Sennheiser, it is like having a close friend you can always call on wherever you go,” says Lewis. “You always know there is going to be somebody to support you, no matter what territory you are in: Australia, Europe, North America or anywhere else. For those of us who spend their lives on the road, it’s really nice to have a friendship like that.“
“We look at this as a support operation,“ says Tim Moore, artist relations, Sennheiser USA. “Many people rely on our gear from production rental houses, mix engineers, RF coordinators and of course artists. As a truly global organisation, Sennheiser is able to respond quickly to any of our customers’ needs, no matter where they occur in the world – including at high-profile events such as the GRAMMY Awards.”
The Sennheiser Group, with its headquarters in Wedemark near Hanover, Germany, is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of microphones, headphones and wireless transmission systems. In 2012 the family company, which was founded in 1945, achieved a turnover of around 584 million euros. Sennheiser employs more than 2,300 people worldwide, and has manufacturing plants in Germany, Ireland and the USA. The company is represented worldwide by subsidiaries in France, Great Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Liechtenstein, Germany, Denmark (Nordic), Russia, Hong Kong, India, Singapore, Japan, China, Australia and New Zealand, Canada, Mexico and the USA, as well as by long-term trading partners in many other countries. Also part of the Sennheiser Group are Georg Neumann GmbH, Berlin (studio microphones and monitor loudspeakers), and the joint venture Sennheiser Communications A/S (headsets for PCs, offices and call centres).