Microphone manufacturers savor their Grammy moments

The annual post-Grammy war of words among Audio-Technica, Shure and Sennheiser continued unabated, with each company issuing press releases touting the use of their products at the music industry’s most prominent awards show.

Of course, the primary visual focus of the show is the series of live performances. Wireless systems from all three companies played prominent roles. Shure endorser Alicia Keys opened the show a virtual duet, singing “Learnin’ the Blues” with the late Frank Sinatra while using a UHF-R wireless transmitter with KSM9 mic element. Country star Carrie Underwood also used a UHF-R system, complete with SM58 transmitter, for her performance of “Before He Cheats.” The evening’s highlight, the Album of the Year winner, was long-time Shure endorser and jazz legend Herbie Hancock.

Sennheiser’s Grammy presence was also prominent, with the company’s flagship SKM 5200 wireless transmitter with MD 5235 capsule featured in performances by Beyonce in a duet with Tina Turner, Andrea Bocelli and Josh Groban in a duet of “The Prayer” and Rihanna fronting 1980s funksters The Time. Amy Winehouse, winner of five awards, used a wired e935 mic for her performance from London, while Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl opted for the MD 431 II. Grammy music mixer John Harris selected the new MKH 8040 condenser to mic the piano in the duet of Lang Lang and Herbie Hancock performing Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.”

Audio-Technica’s top-of-the-line wireless mic, the Artist Elite 5000, was featured in a number of performances, including those of Kanye West; Aretha Franklin with BeBe Winans; Kid Rock and Keely Smith; and the Icons of Rock segment featuring John Fogerty, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis. All opted for the AEW-T5400 transmitter.

In terms of sheer quantity, Audio-Technica supplied more than 250 hardwired mics for backline use on the performance-intensive show. “Live TV broadcasts of this magnitude can be very overwhelming in their specifications and applications,” said Michael Abbott, audio coordinator for the 50th Annual Grammys. “The show needs mics that are acceptable to a wide spectrum of artists, engineers and different genres of music.”

ATK AudioTek provided the house sound system, while broadcast audio was supervised by Phil Ramone and Hank Neuberger, members of the producers and engineers wing of the Recording Academy. New York-based XM Productions/Effanel Music was onsite with its L7 remote truck to create the music mix. For the home audience, CBS delivered the HD broadcast with full 5.1 surround sound.

For more information, visit www.audio-technica.com, www.sennheiserusa.com and www.shure.com.