Cast members of A Prairie Home Companion perform on EV RE27 mics. From left: Garrison Keillor, Robin Williams, Prudence Johnson and Linda Williams. Photo credit: Melinda Sue Gordon.
Eight Electro-Voice RE27 N/D microphones appear in Robert Altman’s film A Prairie Home Companion, which is based on Garrison Keillor’s perennially popular Minnesota Public Radio show broadcast from the historic Fitzgerald Theatre in St Paul, Minn. The movie features a star-studded cast that includes Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, Woody Harrelson and Lindsay Lohan.
“The use of the RE27 really represents the attention to detail that Robert Altman, Garrison Keillor and production designer Dina Goldman paid to the equipment used,” says production mixer Drew Kunin. “I made them a shortlist of mics for the cast’s wide range of voices. The RE27 was at the top of the list because it’s a beautiful sounding mic for the human voice. They all agreed on the RE27 because, in addition to offering the level of sound quality we needed to do our job well, it has the same visual charm and charisma as a classic retro-style mic. Its matte chrome finish, unique shape and shock-mount appealed to them a lot.
“Choosing the RE27 meant it wasn’t necessary to use either a dummy antique mic with an updated element or some bland-looking contemporary mic—they didn’t want it to look like a rock concert! When you see the RE27 onscreen, that’s what you’re actually hearing on the live soundtrack recording. We used them to record all the songs.
“The cast featured a lot of non-professional singers, and though we explained mic technique to everyone, they weren’t always able to keep it up during performance,” Kunin adds. “Plus, Robert Altman didn’t want the actors too close to the mics in the first place, as they’d get in between their faces and the camera. The RE27’s high-output neodymium element and condenser-like Variable D design came in handy in this sense. The mic has both a lot of throw and a lot of depth, so we were able to hone in on the voices for warm, full reproduction in the mix, even when the actors were well off their mics. The RE27 gave a stellar performance.”