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Grammy Awards Feature ATK Audiotek, TC Electronic & Sennheiser

The 49th annual Grammy Awards were held Feb. 11, 2007, at the Staples
Center in Los Angeles and featured contributions from ATK Audiotek, TC Electronic and Sennheiser.

Continuing its tradition of making full use of HDTV and 5.1 surround-sound formats,
this year’s Grammy Awards utilized a sound system provided by ATK Audiotek, with Ron Reeves and Mikael Stewart running FOH. Phil Ramone and Hank Neuberger of the
Recording Academy supervised the broadcast audio. The 5.1 surround and stereo feeds were supplied by New York–based XM Productions/Effanel Music and its L7 remote recording truck, along with music mixers John Harris, Eric Schilling and orchestra music mixer/lead engineer Joel Singer. Pittsburg-based NEP Broadcasting also supplied mobile-recording facilities.

For the third year in a row, the Grammy Awards telecast made extensive use of TC Electronic processing for both the SD Stereo and HD 5.1 broadcast feeds. Both Effanel’s OSR and NEP’s production trucks used TC Electronic DB-8 digital television processors for stereo and 5.1 level control for the CBS broadcast. OSR also used a TC System 6000 for additional effects. The big change this year was the addition of TC Electronic Pro Tools plug-ins for the music mixes. Effanel Music’s L7 truck used the full suite of System 6000 plug-ins, including VSS-3, DVR-2 and NonLin reverbs.

Harris and Schilling created the stereo and 5.1 music stems on the L7 truck’s Digidesign Icon console, while Paul Sandwiess assembled the final HD 5.1 air mix in the OSR truck prior to Dolby encoding. Tom Holmes (pictured) manned the Calrec console in the NEP production truck for the CBS stereo SD mix, while Klaus Landsberg sweetened all the mixes with a massive array of 40 audience mics in 5.1, adding to the realism of both the SD and HD broadcasts. Landsberg used a TC DB-4’s 5.1 compressor for level control.

“We have used TC on-air processing on the Grammy broadcast for three years running, and the sound quality, reliability and ease of use are the reasons the engineers request it every year,” says Mike Abbott, audio coordinator for the Grammy Awards telecast.

In terms of artist performances, Sennheiser made a big showing, with many of the performers and presenters choosing its microphones—including show opener The Police. Both Sting and Andy Summers used a e865 vocal mics, and Stewart Copeland was on an HSP4-EW headset and an SK500G2 bodypack.

The Police were just the first of a succession of artists on the telecast using Sennheiser wired and wireless microphones. Beyoncé treated viewers to “Listen,” from the Dreamgirls film soundtrack, using the Sennheiser SKM 5200 wireless handheld with a Neumann KK 105-S capsule. Shakira brought along her Sennheiser SKM 3072 wireless handheld mic for a Bollywood-style performance of “Hips Don’t Lie” with Wyclef Jean.

Gnarls Barkley’s appearance of “Crazy” featured Cee-Lo Green singing through his custom gold-plated Sennheiser SKM 5200 handheld with a Neumann KK 105-S capsule. Philip Bailey used the same combination when R&B legend and six-time Grammy winner Earth, Wind & Fire took the stage for a special segment with Ludacris and Mary J. Blige. And all three members of Rascal Flatts, taking part in an extended tribute to The Eagles, performed through the Sennheiser/Neumann hybrid wireless vocal mic.

Additionally, more than 40 each of the Evolution Series e602II and e902 wired microphones, as well as 10 e935 and four Neumann KMS 105 microphones and 16 channels of EW300IEMG2 units, were on hand for performers.

In addition to microphones, RF Grammy technician Dave Rickmers from ATK/AudioTek reports that he deployed a pair of A 5000 CP antennas for the Sennheiser personal monitor systems being used by some of the artists. “The antennas are circularly polarized, which is essential for personal monitors, and they’re small enough that we could sneak them onto the stage,” Rickmers says. “They covered the stage as well as the hall, which was good because some of the acts performed on the alternate small stage in the middle of the audience. The A 5000 CP antennas provide a good combination of wide coverage and gain and are an asset to the ATK arsenal.

In a tip of the hat to American Idol, this year’s show included a competition, “My Grammy Moment,” in which viewers voted on which newcomer would duet with Justin Timberlake during the telecast. Previews of the segment during the show and video clips online all featured the three finalists performing in the studio wearing Sennheiser HD215 headphones.

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