Tony Bennett and Stevie Wonder, both using Neumann KMS 105 microphones. (Photo credit: nbcuni)
The Neumann U47, KMS 85 and KMS 105, and a Sennheiser SKM 5000 wireless handheld with a Neumann KK 105 capsule, all appear in an NBC-TV special, Tony Bennett: An American Classic, which will air on Tuesday, November 21 at 8 p.m. EST. The special celebrates Bennett’s 60-year performing career and coincides with the release of Bennett’s latest album, Duets: An American Classic. The program pairs Bennett with stars such as Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Christina Aguilera, Diana Krall, Michael Bublé and Barbra Streisand, who makes a rare TV guest appearance. Rob Marshall (whose credits include Chicago and Memoirs of a Geisha) directed.
Tom Young, Bennett’s live sound engineer for many years, was in charge of production audio and also worked as an audio supervisor on the shoot, which took place in downtown Los Angeles in the L.A. Theater. “From an audio standpoint we needed good quality working microphones that could be used to record the vocals live,” Young says. “Marshall had a clear vision of certain microphones he wanted to see for various period shots. When the director and head prop master, Kirk Corwin, presented me pictures of the period microphones they preferred, Neumann was represented for most of the scenes.
“Originally, Neumann KM 53 and KM 66 mics were chosen for the 1960s period,” Young continues. “However, once viewed on camera, the director chose to stay with the look of the Neumann 105. I contacted Joe Ciaudelli at Sennheiser, who was a great asset in providing support to procure various microphones on short notice. Sennheiser was also instrumental in providing wireless lavaliers that were used as backups to all the handheld microphones. Certain segments included elaborate dance numbers with the featured performers, and Rob Marshall did not want to see any microphones in the shot.”
The TV special was filmed in HD and mixed in 5.1 by Dae Bennett, who recorded the album tracks at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles, London’s Abbey Road and Bennett Studios in Englewood, N.J. earlier this year. Also assisting the recording and playback were Joe Sidoti and John Nave.