Sennheiser SKM 5200 wireless wins for ‘The Singing Bee’

Host Joey Fatone, house band singers and contestants on NBC’s karaoke challenge all benefit from the MD 5235 capsule.
Former *NSYNC star Joey Fatone, now host of NBC’s “The Singing Bee,” uses the Sennheiser SKM 5200 with MD 5235 capsule. Photo courtesy NBCU Photo Bank.

NBC's "The Singing Bee," a karaoke challenge that requires contestants to be word perfect, was one of the highest rated and most watched summer series of 2007. Bringing critical vocal intelligibility to each episode's six contestants, a roster of 11 professional singers and host Joey Fatone was Sennheiser's SKM 5200 wireless handheld transmitter outfitted with the new MD 5235 dynamic capsule.

Music mixer Paul Sandweiss, whose Sound Design also handles audio post-production chores for the show, reports that the Sennheiser RF handheld is ideal for a show that focuses on the song lyrics as well as the vocal performance. "It's really critical,” he said, "that you hear all the words — that's what this contest is about, after all. It's not about being a great singer. It's about knowing the right words to the songs."

The directivity of the MD 5235 capsule includes a narrow supercardioid pattern at very high frequencies and wide cardioid pattern at lower frequencies while exhibiting a smooth cardioid characteristic in the critical frequencies for vocal reproduction.

He notes that the polar pattern is a good match for the show's amateur singers. "With non-professionals, a hypercardioid head or a tight pattern doesn't really work. The contestants move around and aren't consistent. They'll attack a chorus but be really feeble on a verse. If you have a tight pattern, a half-inch or inch of movement can mean 6dB of loss." The MD 5235 capsule's relative insensitivity to handling and wind noise also solved some issues.

On “The Singing Bee,” contestants sing along to a brief extract from a popular song, taking over from the house band and one of 11 vocalists, led by musical director Ray Chew. Anyone who fails to get the lyric exactly right is eliminated. Each of the 11 singers with the house band handles a repertoire of songs suitable to their particular style, all ably handled by the SKM 5200 with MD 5235 capsule.

For more information, visit