Artists and Engineers Rely on Shure Wireless and Backline Mics For Flawless Live Telecast
NASHVILLE, TN, November 17, 2009 — Shure Incorporated, a long-time favorite among country music performers and engineers, played a huge role at the 43rd annual Country Music Association (CMA) Awards show, which aired live on ABC-TV on Wednesday, November 11. To ensure a quality broadcast, co-audio producers Michael Abbott and Tom Davis assembled an elite production audio team to capture the 20 live performances presented to the sold-out live audience in Nashville’s Sommet Center, and to a U.S. television audience estimated at 16.8 million viewers.
The broadcast mix for the show was done by production mixer Mark King, while the broadcast music mix chores were shared by John Harris and Jay Vicari in the Music Mix Mobile (M3) truck. All mixes were done in both discrete 5.1 surround and stereo. The live music mix in the Sommet Center was handled by FOH engineers Patrick Baltzell and Rick Shimer.
To help ensure great performances by the 20 live acts on stage, Abbott and Davis offer every artist the opportunity to use their preferred microphones, especially for lead vocals. “The key to a successful award show is letting the artists stay in their comfort zone,” noted Davis. “If the artist is used to singing with a certain mic, we’re not going to change it. So we had a lot of Shure wireless on stage.”
Abbott agreed. “As award shows have evolved, we’ve realized that it’s best to allow the artist the use of their preferred microphones whenever possible,” he stated. “And with today’s recallable signal routing systems, that’s much easier to accommodate than it was in the past. We want the artists to walk in and have the tools they need, and it’s no surprise that so many went with Shure SM58®. It’s the workhorse of the business.”
Program co-hosts Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley both used Shure UR2 transmitters for their performances. Underwood supplied her own blinged-out UR2/SM58, while Paisley used his preferred Beta 58A® model. Other artists opting for Shure UR2/SM58 transmitters included Martina McBride, George Strait, Brooks & Dunn, Darius Rucker, and Keith Urban.
“The Shure UR systems are so stable and solid, we didn’t have a single dropout, either on the broadcast or through five days of setup and rehearsal,” said Davis. “It’s really comforting to know that you’ve got a system you can really rely on.”
Paisley, who won two award categories, including Male Vocalist of the Year, used Shure’s new KSM313 ribbon mic on his guitar amp for his performance of “Welcome to the Future.” “That mic is great,” said Paisley. “This is the best my amp has ever sounded.”
Audio co-producer Davis agreed. “That Shure ribbon sounded great,” he stated. “I was a little worried because it’s a bi-directional mic, and I thought it might pick up too much sound from the back side. But that really ended up working in our favor; it gave a really nice depth to the sound. We just pulled the fader up, trimmed the gain, and let it go.”
Using a new mic is an unusual occurrence at a live, nationally televised awards show. “They call this country music’s biggest night,” noted Abbott, “so the stakes are high. It’s not a situation that really lends itself to experimenting. But we have the ability for the artists to hear their performance in the M3 West truck after rehearsal, so we gave the mic a try. Brad and his people absolutely loved the guitar sound, so we were happy to go with it.”
Shure mics were mainstays across much of the other backline applications as well. For background vocals, the SM58 and Beta 58A wireless mics on lead vocals were complemented by their hardwired counterparts. “On instruments, it seemed like we had SM57s everywhere,” commented Davis, “on snare drum, guitar amps, bass cabinet, and steel guitar. We also used a lot of KSM32s, mostly on guitar amps. That’s a great all-purpose mic, very even-tempered wherever you put it.”
Of course, the spotlight is always on the stars and their wireless mics. “Between the mics, the in-ear systems, RFPL comm and walkie-talkies, we operate literally hundreds of frequencies at a show like the CMAs,” declared Abbott. “Not to mention all the stray EMF from the lights and staging elements. The Shure mics performed as expected, and by that I mean flawlessly. They provided both the production team and the artists with a level of comfort and confidence. In a fragile RF world, we had a very good evening, and Shure wireless was a big part of that success.”