UHF-R® Still a Mainstay for Live Performance
LOS ANGELES, CA, February 17, 2009 — Opening the GRAMMY® Awards this year with "Get on Your Boots," a track from their forthcoming album, U2 set the tempo for live performances at this year's ceremonies with Bono stepping into the spotlight using a Shure UHF-R wireless microphone equipped with an SM58® capsule. UHF-R continued to cut a wide swath across the wireless frequency spectrum throughout the evening, with a combination of SM58 and KSM9 handheld transmitters chosen by a lengthy list of performing artists including Jennifer Hudson, Coldplay, Kid Rock, Carrie Underwood, John Mayer, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Keith Urban, M.I.A., T.I., Kanye West, and Jay-Z.
With frequency coordination provided by Dave Bellamy of Burbank-based Soundtronics Wireless, the GRAMMY telecast braced itself for the operation of 50 RF channels within the cavernous Staples Center. Out of 28 wireless channels dedicated to the 23 musical acts that performed live, 12 were occupied by Shure.
"There are few shows I know of that have a capacity for this amount of RF usage going on at one time," noted GRAMMYs audio coordinator Michael Abbott, the point person in charge of all things sound-related this year. "Dave Bellamy and I talked about which mics we wanted to apply where on the show, and the thing about Shure is it's always my ace-in-the-hole. I know that because of the product design and engineering that I'm able to maximize more Shure mics out there than possibly any other."
Not to be overlooked or under-heard in this year's GRAMMY microphone milieu was Shure's venerable hardwired SM58, which found a place in front of Alison Krauss and Robert Plant (whose album Raising Sand won five awards before the night was out) and was the choice of Stevie Wonder. In addition, Sir Paul McCartney used a Beta 58 for his performance.
"We probably averaged 30 to 40 inputs per act," FOH music mixer Ron Reaves said, providing an insider's glimpse into the stage content arriving at his console. "In each case, a majority of the mics were hardwired. Vocals were still dominated by RF microphones, but in my opinion, we're starting to see a trend emerge on these shows where there's a little more wire than in the past. Maybe we're trying to condition ourselves to changing conditions within the spectrum, but clearly anything at this event that didn't have to be mobile was stuck on a wire."
Reaves also noted, however, that “there were absolutely no RF failures that I was aware of. If there were any issues, from out front we didn't notice them. The performances went on without a problem. This job is just a joy. In spite of all the enormous logistics and grueling schedule, I had the pleasure of mixing for 23 of the hottest acts on the planet. This was a big moment for them, too. Nobody phones it in for the GRAMMYs."