Beginning with host LL Cool J’s opening announcement and throughout the event, Shure microphones and wireless systems played a vital role in the production of the 58th Annual GRAMMY Awards. The telecast was presented live by CBS-TV from the Staples Center in Los Angeles on February 15, 2016.
The critical host microphone was the new Shure KSM8 Dualdyne™ microphone on a UHF-R® wireless transmitter, brought in for consideration at the suggestion of the show’s Audio Coordinator, Michael Abbott. "I've been using the KSM8 on The Voice for host Carson Daly, with excellent results,” he notes. “The reduced proximity effect and flat response gave us a smooth sound, making it an ideal choice to use on LL Cool J to host the GRAMMYs.
"On a night dominated by performance tributes to major artists, Shure wireless microphones, both the UHF-R and Axient® systems, were a near-constant presence on stage. The GRAMMY production team prides itself on being artist-friendly, accommodating whatever microphone makes the artist most comfortable. They only step in with suggestions when no microphone is specified, or to address technical issues.
In-ear monitors are another story. While musicians all use their personal earphones, all wireless in-ear systems are Shure PSM® 1000s, supplied by ATK Audiotek. With its diversity reception, high-selectivity filtering, and outstanding sound quality, the PSM 1000 has become a de facto standard for RF-intensive live broadcasts, like the GRAMMY Awards. In the words of monitor engineer Mike Parker, “Five years and counting, PSM 1000 is still going strong with a zero failure rate.”
The newly-released KSM8 microphone made a strong GRAMMY debut. In addition to its use by five-time host LL Cool J, it was also the mic capsule of choice atop UHF-R transmitters for three live performances: Tori Kelly (duet with James Bay), Hollywood Vampires (for Johnny Depp and Duff McKagan), and three members of Little Big Town for their hit, “Girl Crush.”
“I was very pleased with Little Big Town’s vocal mic choice,” says Eric Schilling, co-music mixer for the broadcast. “The KSM8 has a very natural sound and requires very little EQ to make it work.”
With outstanding audio, remote transmitter control, and frequency diversity, Shure Axient wireless also played a strong role in the production. The AXT200 handheld was used for lead vocals by Justin Bieber (with KSM9HS capsule) and Alabama Shakes (with SM58 capsule). In addition, the production team designated an Axient handheld with an SM58 capsule as the production’s global spare wireless for the second straight year.
While new technology like Axient and the KSM8 made waves, the “old reliable” SM58 was also well represented on stage. Now in its 50th year on the market, the SM58 was used atop several UHF-R handhelds in the Lionel Richie tribute, including those used by Demi Lovato, Luke Bryan, Meghan Trainor, Tyrese, and Richie himself. Hardwired SM58s were used for all backing vocals by the Eagles in their tribute to Glenn Frey; by both Gary Clark, Jr. and Best New Artist winner Chris Stapleton during the B.B. King tribute; and by Robin Thicke during the finale.
For a worldwide broadcast like the GRAMMY Awards, audio coordinator Mike Abbott brings in the top engineering talent and audio vendors to ensure success. These include remote trucks from Music Mix Mobile (M3), backline support from ATK Audiotek, and wireless system design and frequency coordination by Dave Bellamy of Soundtronics. The broadcast production mix, combining the music mix with all the other sonic elements, is handled by Tom Holmes, with Eric Schilling and John Harris as co-broadcast music mixers, working in two Music Mix Mobile remote trucks.