Sennheiser's wall of wireless mics came in handy on the set of The Apprentice.
Donald Trump’s The Apprentice reality series wrapped-up its second season on NBC at New York's Lincoln Center, naming Kelly Perdew (California) the winner. Also “hired” were Masque Sound, the New Jersey-based broadcast, live performance and theatrical sound services specialists, who supplied the Sennheiser wireless microphones systems for the three-hour finale.
"The show was all about RF," reports James Stoffo of Professional Wireless Systems (PWS), a Masque Sound company based in Orlando, Fla. PWS presided over the show's RF systems, which comprised Sennheiser wireless handheld and lavalier microphones. "There weren't any wired mics on the show."
According to Stoffo, Trump wore two Sennheiser MKE2 lavalier mics, as did presenter Regis Philbin. The 16 former contestants, making a return for the final showdown, were also each miked with MKE2s, while the two finalists, Perdew and Jennifer Massey, were double-miked.
For the interview segments, Philbin carried a Sennheiser/Neumann hybrid RF handheld mic that combines the 5000 Series wireless transmitter with Neumann's KK105-S capsule, as did Trump's colleague, Carolyn Kepcher. The O'Jays, who performed the show's theme song, "For the Love of Money," used three Sennheiser/Neumann hybrid handhelds. "We had a couple of backups," offers Stoffo, "which we never used, because everything else worked fine."
"Altogether," he continues, "we ended up using 37 live Sennheiser RF mics throughout the course of the show. They had full coverage of the stage and out into the audience--no hits, no dropouts, no riz-- everything sounded perfect. That's because we stayed right on top of it and continually monitored the RF once we were set up. They are the best you can get: Sennheiser EM1046 receivers and SK50 belt pack transmitters!"
The Sennheiser RF equipment took up the entire stage left area, he notes. "That was the side of the stage that the participants walked through where they'd get a last mic check before they walked on stage. We hid some of the MKE2s under clothing on some of the principals, like Trump and Regis. At the beginning of the show they were supposed to be in a boardroom, so we had to conceal all the mics. There was no clothing rustle and everybody was happy."
At stage left, in addition to a table covered in Sennheiser handheld and lavalier mic systems, he continues, "I had seven fully loaded EM1046 racks. I never had to worry about them. I watch my RF 'A' and 'B' lights and, my saying is, you may as well paint two red lines there, as they always stay pegged."
The finale, including the boardroom segments, all took place at the Alice Tully Theatre inside Lincoln Center. "Typically for Manhattan," says Stoffo, "we had lots of RF to deal with. There's the Juilliard School right next door and some other theaters we had to watch out for, along with some personal monitoring systems and wireless intercoms. All in all, we had about 100 drops of RF systems."
Stoffo-designed PWS helical antennas and Masque Sound custom low-noise, high-gain splitters with variable attenuation completed the RF systems. "There's very little reason not to use a helical antenna. They've really done me right over the last six years, since I started using them. And Masque Sound designed a really cool monitor rig for RF where you can listen to all of the mics at once, or a couple of them, or just one."
Such a system is essential, he explains, because "RF is a very dynamic environment, and it changes minute by minute. You're not done once you're set up. At that point, you go into monitor mode and critically listen to those microphones. I had a second RF A2 listening to all of the mics for general hits and during the show I sat at the remote station in front of my racks." With each of the Sennheiser EM1046 receiver modules capable of being tuned to any one of 4,800 different frequencies, rock solid RF performance is ensured even in a dense wireless environment.
Normally, says Stoffo, a show's production managers do their jobs then disappear. But for The Apprentice finale, he reports, "When I got back home, two emails had come in, one from the truck A1 who pre-mixed all the mics and the other from the technical director, both praising Masque and PWS and the RF. It went off flawlessly and everybody really loved us."
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