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Sennheiser, Neumann equip ‘America’s Got Talent’

The fourth season of NBC's "America's Got Talent" debuted this summer, with the competition's September finale and the selection of winner Kevin Skinner attracting 15 million viewers. Throughout the run of the talent show, audio mixer Larry Reed regularly fielded an array of Sennheiser and Neumann microphones on the competing singers, dancers, comedians and entertainers of all ages, as well as guest artists and the panel of three celebrity judges.

Reed reports that the Sennheiser and Neumann wired microphones were used mainly on guest bands. In addition, a couple of the show's guest vocalists made use of wireless handheld microphones. "We brought in Sennheiser SKM 5200s for Susan Boyle, who used a Neumann KK-105 head, and for Leona Lewis," he says.

"America's Got Talent," the U.S. version of a talent competition show developed in the UK by Simon Cowell's Syco production company, features a panel of judges that includes Sharon Osbourne, David Hasselhoff and Piers Morgan, who also judges "Britain's Got Talent," alongside Cowell. "The judges all had Sennheiser MKE 2 lavs, and a really cool, small SK 5212 RF package," Reed says.

As for the mic inventory available for the guest bands, he says, "I had an e 901 for the kick, 604s on all the toms and, my absolute favorite mic in all the world, the KM 84, on hi-hat and overheads," he says. "The new drum mics are fabulous, low-profile, great diaphragm and dynamic, so I don't have to worry about phantom power."

Guitars were miked with e 906 supercardioid dynamic models. "Plus," Reed says, "we had the standard MKH 416 looking onto the stage for any kind of effects, tap dancers, or anybody yelling or screaming. That's the standard for me."

Reed, a freelance audio mixer, typically specifies Sennheiser and Neumann microphones for any show on which he is hired to work. For "Feel Free: A National Parks Celebration in Central Park," an all-star concert in Central Park to launch National Parks Week NYC and to promote Ken Burns' upcoming PBS film, "The National Parks: America's Best Idea," Reed submitted a long list. "I requested 602s on the kick, 84s hat and overheads, 604s on the toms, 609s on all the guitars, 604s on all the percussion — congas, bongos, djembe, timbale — and 935s on the background vocals," he says. The concert featured Eric Benét, Gavin DeGraw, Jose Feliciano, Carole King and Alison Krauss and Union Station, featuring Jerry Douglas and Peter Yarrow, of Peter, Paul and Mary, in a tribute to Mary Travers.