'American Music Awards' Relies On Sennheiser, Neumann Mics

Dec 8, 2008 3:34 PM


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photo of Alicia Keys, Queen Latifah, Kathleen Battle

From left: Alicia Keys, Queen Latifah and opera soprano Kathleen Battle closed the American Music Awards with a rousing rendition Keys' hit single "Superwoman," using Sennheiser SKM 5200 RF handhelds with MD 5235 or Neumann KK 104 capsules.

Nine featured female vocalists sang through Sennheiser wired and wireless vocal microphones at the 36th annual American Music Awards on Sunday, November 24. The ceremony took place in Los Angeles at the Nokia Theatre, part of the city's new L.A. Live entertainment complex, and was broadcast live on the ABC network.

Alicia Keys, Queen Latifah, Kathleen Battle, Sarah McLachlan, Rihanna, Annie Lennox, Beyoncé, Miley Cyrus and Leona Lewis all performed using Sennheiser mics.

The 2008 AMAs featured a record 19 live performances, culminating in a rendition by Alicia Keys of "Superwoman," the latest single from her album As I Am, along with surprise guests Queen Latifah and opera soprano Kathleen Battle. All three used Sennheiser SKM 5200 RF handhelds with MD 5235 or Neumann KK 104 capsules.

First up on the show with the SKM 5200 RF handheld was Leona Lewis, the 2006 winner of the UK television music talent contest, The X Factor, singing "Better in Time." Also using the SKM 5200 was Miley Cyrus, whose high-energy performance of "Fly on the Wall" sent her running out into the audience and bounding up to a platform above her band. Next up on the RF handheld was Beyoncé, a longtime Sennheiser user, with her iconic "Single Ladies," in keeping with the theme of the night. Later, Rihanna, with her custom-decorated SKM 5200 MT handheld, outfitted with a Neumann KK 105 S NI capsule, performed "Rehab."

Isaac Slade, pianist and lead singer with Denver band The Fray, also used an SKM 5200 as the band delivered its latest single, "You Found Me."

Wired Neumann vocal mics were also in evidence. Annie Lennox, recipient of the lifetime achievement Award of Merit trophy, gave one of the evening's highlight performances at the piano, singing a solo version of her big hit, "Why," using a Neumann KMS 104 wired vocal mic. Later, Sarah McLachlan, at the piano, in a duet with Pink, used her longtime favorite mic, the KMS 104.

Brett Valasek, general manager with the show's sound provider, ATK Audiotek, reports that a dozen channels of Sennheiser evolution G2 IEM systems were also in use on the night. "It was a two-stage setup, and we had eight channels of transmit, with six G2s on each stage." Sennheiser's personal wireless monitors were favored by many of the artists. "We had about 20 Sennheiser belt-packs per stage. I know the first three performances probably gobbled up about 30 of the 40 Sennheiser belt-packs," recalls Valasek.

Although mixers Bart Chiate and Bob Wylie specified a mix of microphone brands, according to Valasek, "What they try to do on a lot of these shows is keep everything consistent." As a result, there were plenty of Sennheiser wired mics on the backline, on guitar amplifiers, drums and horns. "We supplied a lot of 900 Series mics and Neumann KM 184s and 84s. And there were MD 421s everywhere. That's still a workhorse microphone," says Valasek.

Locally-based wireless systems specialist David Bellamy and his Soundtronics company provided much of the RF equipment for the show. "We needed to make sure we had enough Sennheiser receivers from Bellamy so artists such as Beyoncé and Rihanna could bring in their own mics," says Valasek.

During the 2008 American Music Awards Red Carpet Live! broadcast, Dancing with the Stars judge Carrie Ann Inaba and Chris Harrison, host of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, along with guest music correspondent, Pussycat Dolls' Nicole Scherzinger, captured the comments of arriving celebrities with Sennheiser evolution wired handheld microphones.

For more information, visit www.sennheiserusa.com, www.atkcorp.com and www.soundtronics.com.

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