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MTV Video Music Awards Benefit from Wireless Systems

Lou Reed (left) and Jack White perform Reed’s “White Light/While Heat” with the Raconteurs on Sennheiser’s e935s. (Photo credit:

MTV staged its 2006 Video Music Awards (VMAs) on August 31 at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall. The event was hosted by Jack Black, featured performances by the year’s top artists and was facilitated by New York–based remote broadcast specialists XM/Effanel Music. Pro audio manufacturers supplied microphones and wireless systems that were critical to the evening’s performances.

The Raconteurs, who served as the event’s house band and performed with guest artists, used Sennheiser microphones. “We used evolution series e935s on all the vocals, including our guests, Lou Reed and Billy Gibbons,” says Neil Heal, The Raconteurs’ monitor engineer. Reed appeared to perform the 1967 Velvet Underground classic, “White Light/White Heat.” Later, The Raconteurs were joined by ZZ Top’s Gibbons for a rendition of his band’s “Cheap Sunglasses.”

According to Heal, the Sennheiser vocal mics are ideal for a band that likes a very loud stage. “With a normal stage volume of 128 dB at the vocal mics, I find the 935s are fantastic in terms of clarity and feedback rejection. I tend to keep my input gains down and my outputs up so as not to pick up too much spill from cymbals, drums and guitar amps. They work really well for me, and the band loves them.”

Heal also used an e609 on the guitar cabinet for touring keyboard player Dean Fertita, while drummer Patrick Keeler was miked with e604 on all his toms, an e602 on the kick drum, and an e902 on the snare. Bass player “Little Jack” Lawrence was the only band member on a wireless personal monitor, using Sennheiser evolution monitors paired with Ultimate Ears earphones.

Beyoncé sang “Ring the Alarm,” the second single off her latest album, into the nickel finish Sennheiser/Neumann SKM 5200 hybrid wireless handheld. Beyoncé continues to favor the Neumann KK 105-S capsule, but has now adopted the newer Sennheiser SKM 5200 handheld.

Justin Timberlake performs on Audio-Technica’s AEW-T5400 microphone/transmitter. (Photo credit: John Shearer/

Audio-Technica provided its Artist Elite 5000 Series wireless system to several performers. Artists using the AEW-T5400 handheld microphone/transmitter for front-line vocals included Justin Timberlake (pictured), Shakira, The All-American Rejects, T.I., Young Dro, Panic! At The Disco and Kyle Gass of Tenacious D. Timbaland and Busta Rhymes also used the AEW-T5400 during a tribute to director Hype Williams, who received MTV’s Video Vanguard Award.

A wide selection of Audio-Technica wired microphones were on hand, including the AT4050 on overheads and guitars; AT4047/SV for acoustic bass; AE5100 on ride cymbals and hi-hats; ATM25 and ATM23HE on toms; and ATM350 for violins, violas and cello. AE2500 and AT4041 models were also put to use.

“The MTV VMAs were a fantastic showcase for Audio-Technica mics, which continue to be chosen for their reliability and outstanding sound quality in critical applications like this,” said Gary Boss, Audio-Technica’s marketing director. “We were excited to see so many artists deliver sensational performances of the year’s biggest hits using our wireless systems as well as our hardwired microphones.”

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