Neumann mics handle Tony Bennett special

Mix of studio and live mics capture audio for NBC special celebrating singer’s legendary career.
Tony Bennett and Stevie Wonder were among the duets featured on the recent NBC special profiling Bennett’s 60-year career. Photo courtesy nbcuni.

Neumann microphones helped lend period authenticity to an NBC-TV special, "Tony Bennett: An American Classic," that celebrates the 60-year musical career of the performer. The microphones were used as more than just props in the recent special. They also captured the live vocals of Bennett and a host of singing stars, including Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Christina Aguilera, Diana Krall, Michael Bublé and Barbra Streisand, in a rare TV guest appearance.

Directed by Rob Marshall, "Tony Bennett: An American Classic" told the chronological story of Bennett's long and storied career through a series of short movies. A series of filmed vignettes set in a 1940s jazz club, a Columbia Recording Studios session in the 1950s and a 1960s TV studio, plus live shows in Las Vegas, at Carnegie Hall and on "MTV Unplugged," featured one Neumann microphone after another. The Neumann U 47, KMS 85, KMS 105 and Bennett's preferred live performance mic, a Sennheiser SKM 5000 wireless handheld with a Neumann KK 105 capsule, all make appearances during the one-hour special.

Tom Young, Bennett's live sound engineer, was in charge of production audio and also worked as an audio supervisor on the shoot, which took place in the L.A. Theater in downtown Los Angeles. Working with director Marshall and prop master Kirk Corwin, Young requested specific period microphones. Sennheiser provided the mics and the wireless backups to assist in capture.

The special coincides with the release of Bennett's latest album, "Duets: An American Classic," which features many of the same guest vocalists. The TV special was filmed in HD and mixed in 5.1 by Dae Bennett, who recorded the album tracks at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles, London's Abbey Road and Bennett Studios in Englewood, NJ, earlier this year. Also assisting in the recording and playback were Joe Sidoti and John Nave. Bennett has made more than 100 albums, selling 50 million copies and winning 13 Grammy Awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001.

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