NILES, Ill., November 11, 2013— Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena was host to the 2013 CMA Awards, known as “country music’s biggest night,” with a live ABC telecast and a venue packed with fans. For the sixth straight year, artists Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley co-hosted the awards, which honored both youth and experience, with a three-hour string of hit songs and unusual collaborations.
Staging a live televised event like this requires the best equipment, expertise, and experience. With the show’s fast pace and multiple stages, most vocal mics and in-ear monitor systems were wireless, provided by ATK Audiotek. Using an artist-friendly approach, performers were free to use their preferred brand of products. According to Ryan Smith with Shure Artist Relations, that resulted in significant use of Shure UR Series Wireless Microphone Systems throughout the evening.
Shure’s premium condenser microphone, the KSM9, was used in performances by Vocal Group award winner Little Big Town, The Band Perry, and Keith Urban. The classic SM58® capsule was selected by Brad Paisley, opening act Luke Bryan, New Artist winner Kacey Musgraves, double winner Florida Georgia Line (Best Duo, Single of the Year), as well as Rascal Flatts and Hunter Hayes.
During the performance of Pinnacle Award winner Taylor Swift, the all-star band behind her included country legends Alison Krauss (SM58) and Vince Gill (UR2/KSM9). “I can always count on the sound quality of Shure. Having so many artists choose the KSM9 capsule was refreshing. It made my life much easier at front of house,” reports FOH engineer Rick Shimer.
Throughout the show, most artists wore their own custom earphones for monitoring, with the PSM® 1000 wireless system handling all in-ear wireless duties. One major test of Shure wireless reliability was the collaboration by Hunter Hayes (U2/SM58) and Jason Mraz (U2/SM86), which started in the dressing rooms backstage and moved all the way through the audience and up to the main stage, all with flawless audio.
Again acting as RF coordinator for the event was James Stoffo, Chief Technology Officer of Radio Active Designs. "With 20 channels of UHF-R® and 20 channels of PSM 1000 in use on this show, I continue to be pleased with the RF stability of Shure products. The ability to infrared sync artists' custom transmitters on the spot was easy. Throughout several performances on satellite stages, plus Hunter Hayes and Jason Mraz walking the hallways, our Shure systems remained solid."
Head audio producer for the show was Tom Davis, with Paul Sandweiss of Hollywood-based Sound Design Corporation taking the role of audio coordinator. The broadcast production mixes were handled by Mark King. Remote audio facilities were provided by the Music Mix Mobile (M3) truck, with Jay Vicari and John Harris swapping music mixes. Inside the arena, Rick Shimer of Blackhawk Audio (White House, TN) performed the music mixes, with Pat Baltzell covering the production mix. Monitor mixing was another team event, with veterans Tom Pesa and Jason Spence manning the consoles.
With an array of challenging production requirements and unique collaborations that included a tribute to the legendary George Jones and a lifetime achievement award to Kenny Rogers, the 2013 CMA Awards telecast was a huge technical challenge that was met and mastered by the best musical and technical talent that country music has to offer. “It was a special evening. Everything sounded great, and it was very gratifying to see Shure products once again playing such a prominent role,” says Shure’s Nashville-based artist relations manager, Ryan Smith. “Shure congratulates all the nominees and winners, with special thanks to the sound engineers and techs who help make it all happen.”