The 57th Grammy Awards, broadcast on CBS the evening of Sunday, February 8, from the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, featured an unprecedented 23 live musical performances. With so many artists performing in an RF-intensive urban location, the awards show’s production team needed to ensure flawless audio from everyone’s wireless microphones and in-ear monitors.
From the hard-rocking opener by AC/DC to the poignant closing performance of “Glory” by John Legend and Common, Shure wireless microphone systems, wired mics, and in-ear monitoring systems were a near-constant presence. As always, musicians were permitted to use their preferred microphones for their performances.
Although artists brought their own custom earphones, all but one of the in-ear monitoring systems were Shure PSM1000, with 24 channels split between two stages. With a diversity bodypack receiver, the PSM1000 offers an extra measure of RF protection with exceptional audio quality. This year marks the fourth consecutive year that the Grammy production team chose Shure personal monitors.
Both Shure Axient and UHF-R wireless systems were in use. AC/DC selected Axient for lead vocals and Angus Young’s guitar, with backing vocals on UHF-R systems with Beta 58A capsules. Axient handheld systems were also selected by Sir Paul McCartney (Beta 58A), Adam Levine (SM58), Juanes (Beta 58A), and Pharrell Williams. With its superb sound quality and remote control of all transmitter functions, Axient has the unique ability to detect and avoid interference.
“We tried the Axient systems in rehearsals and were very happy with the way they sounded on both guitars and vocals,” says “Pab” Boothroyd, FOH engineer for AC/DC and Paul McCartney. “Requesting them for our Grammy performances was an easy choice.”
Shure UHF-R systems were used by Sir Tom Jones, John Mayer, Usher, Eric Church, Rihanna, and Common. In addition, the podium microphones were powered by Shure UR1 bodypacks, eliminating the need to run cables across the stage.
Not all vocals were wireless. The Beta 58A was the microphone of choice for Hozier, while the SM58 was selected for Brandy Clark’s performance with Dwight Yoakum, for Sia’s theatrical performance, and backing vocals on several numbers.
Co-broadcast music mixer Eric Schilling and FOH music mixer Ron Reaves suggested using Shure Beta 181 microphones on acoustic pianos. “It’s the best piano sound ever, and they were the only piano mics we used on the show,” Reaves says.
Eric Schilling explains: “After Ron Reaves tried them out on the Latin Grammy Awards, we both agreed that we wanted to use the Beta 181 in all the pianos on this show. They have such a pleasing top end and great rejection. There was very little we had to do to them.”
Shure Artist Relations Manager Cory Lorentz was in Los Angeles for the event, touching base with the Shure endorsers and users who were present and supporting the audio team. “The Grammy Awards always has an amazing production team, and it’s an honor to see them at work from rehearsals through the live broadcast,” says Lorentz.
Along with Shilling and Reaves, audio coordinator Michael Abbott’s crew included production mixer Thomas Holmes, co-broadcast music mixer John Harris, and FOH production mixer Mikael Stewart of ATK Audiotek. The team also included monitor mixers Michael Parker and Tom Pesa, with Dave Bellamy of Soundtronics handling the challenge of RF coordination.
“With 23 live performances this year, this was the most ambitious Grammy broadcast ever,” says Lorentz. “It’s always a blast seeing the whole production come together on Sunday night. These guys are total professionals, and it’s great to see them using so much Shure gear to get the job done on Music’s Biggest Night.”
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