LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 2009: The fourth season of NBC's "America's Got Talent" proved to be America's number one reality television show this summer, with the competition's September finale and the selection of winner Kevin Skinner attracting fifteen million viewers. Throughout the summer run of the talent show, audio mixer Larry Reed regularly fielded an array of Sennheiser and Neumann microphones on the competing singers, dancers, comedians and entertainers of all ages, as well as guest artists and the panel of three celebrity judges.
Reed reports that the Sennheiser and Neumann wired microphones were used mainly on guest bands. In addition, a couple of the show's guest vocalists made use of wireless handheld microphones. "We brought in Sennheiser SKM 5200s for Susan Boyle - who used a Neumann KK-105 head - and for Leona Lewis," he says.
"America's Got Talent," the U.S. version of a talent competition show developed in the U.K. by Simon Cowell's Syco production company, features a panel of judges that includes Sharon Osbourne, David Hasselhoff and Piers Morgan, who also judges "Britain's Got Talent," alongside Cowell. "The judges all had Sennheiser MKE 2 lavs, and a really cool, small SK 5212 RF package," shares Reed.
As for the mic inventory available for the guest bands, he continues, "I had an e 901 for the kick, 604s on all the toms, and, my absolute favorite mic in all the world, the KM 84, on hi-hat and overheads," he recalls. "The new drum mics are fabulous, low profile, great diaphragm, and dynamic, so I don't have to worry about phantom power."
Guitars were miked with e 906 supercardioid dynamic models. "Plus," says Reed, "we had the standard MKH 416 looking onto the stage for any kind of effects, tap dancers, or anybody yelling or screaming. That's the standard for me."
One group, Recycled Percussion - a new Sennheiser endorser - who placed third in the finals, truly put the Sennheiser mics to the test, according to Reed. "I almost exclusively used e 604s on the tubs that they were playing, which worked out really well for us. They take a folding chair and turn it upside down, and throw the tub on top of it. It was hard to find a way to mic it, but we mounted the 604s to a support bar on the folding chair, and that worked very well for us."
For one of Recycled Percussion's performances that involved water pouring onto the tubs, he adds, "I specified MKE 2 Platinum lavs, because a water molecule is bigger than the sound ports of the mic, thus making it waterproof. In any case," he says, "the fortunate part was that the tub worked in our favor to waterproof the mic, since it was sitting on top of it."
Reed, a freelance audio mixer, typically specifies Sennheiser and Neumann microphones for any show on which he is hired to work. For "Feel Free: A National Parks Celebration in Central Park," an all-star concert in Central Park to launch National Parks Week NYC and to promote Ken Burns's upcoming PBS film, "The National Parks: America's Best Idea," Reed submitted a long list. "I requested 602s on the kick, 84s hat and overheads, 604s on the toms, 609s on all the guitars, 604s on all the percussion - congas, bongos, djembe, timbale - and 935s on the background vocals," he says. The concert featured Eric Benét, Gavin DeGraw, Jose Feliciano, Carole King, and Alison Krauss and Union Station, featuring Jerry Douglas and Peter Yarrow, of Peter, Paul and Mary, in a tribute to Mary Travers.
Sennheiser is a world-leading manufacturer of microphones, headphones and wireless transmission systems. Established in 1945 in Wedemark, Germany, Sennheiser is now a global brand represented in 60 countries around the world with U.S. headquarters in Old Lyme, Connecticut. Sennheiser's pioneering excellence in technology has rewarded the company with numerous awards and accolades including an Emmy, a Grammy, and the Scientific and Engineering Award of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.