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PBS Relaunches Soundstage Series in 5.1, HD

Frank Pappalardo, chief audio engineer of HD Roadie, HD Ready’s traveling arm

Long-running PBS series Soundstage, which hosted hour-long concerts from acts such as Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, the Doobie Brothers and Arlo Guthrie, among others from 1974 to 1985, has been reborn, now jointly produced by WTTW-TV, PBS’ Chicago affiliate, and HD Ready LLC, a St. Charles, Ill.–based company specializing in bringing music to television in high definition and with Dolby Surround audio.

“We never shoot in anything other than high-definition, and we always go after the highest quality audio,” says Frank Pappalardo, chief audio engineer of HD Roadie, HD Ready’s traveling arm. “This is our third regular season with Soundstage doing 13 shows per year, plus we’ve done a number of special events associated with the program, including a Fleetwood Mac concert and Farm Aid.”

Some of this year’s Soundstage tapings include sessions with Chris Isaak, John Mayer with Buddy Guy, Martina McBride, Michael McDonald, Ringo Starr, Joss Stone and Trisha Yearwood, many of them miked with Shure microphones.

For a recent taping with Robert Plant, Pappalardo created a stage blueprint including an SM58 at lead vocals as well as an eclectic assortment of other Shure mics. Admitting to a fondness for large-diaphragm condensers like the KSM32, he also loves SM81s on high-hat and acoustic instruments, and regularly relies upon a stereo VP88, shotgun SM89s and SM98As to capture the crowd.

“I’ve done over 44 TV shows in 5.1, and haven’t mixed anything that isn’t live in over three years,” Pappalardo recalls for the record. “Live and in 5.1, you deal with myriad problems, extraneous noise and bleed being two of the most potentially vexing. That’s another reason Shure mics are so important to me, because their rejection is so great. I don’t want the drummer in the lead vocalist’s mic, nor do I want all of the coughs in the audience in that channel.”

To find out who hits the Soundstage next, visit