Restating its claim to being the biggest music award spectacle in the world, Annual Grammy Awards included debut live Grammy performances from the likes of Travis Scott, Brandi Carlile and Shawn Mendes. In support, Sennheiser and Neumann enjoyed a key role in the wireless performance and sonic purity of many performances.

Brandi CarlisleFresh off of a Super Bowl halftime performance alongside Maroon 5 and Big Boi, Travis Scott performed a medley of songs from his Grammy-nominated album Astroworld, singing through a Sennheiser Digital 6000/MD 9235 microphone capsule combination. His ‘Stop Trying to be God’ and ‘No Bystanders’ were performed as he climbed a 15ft-high steel cage onstage before leaping into a mosh pit – while rapping into his MD 9235 dynamic capsule.

Travis Scott transitioned to a Sennheiser Digital 6000 System during his Astroworld tour, which was also used during his Grammy performance. Monitor engineer Justin Hoffmann says the Digital 6000 delivers an advantage in an era of wireless uncertainty: ‘Wireless-wise, everything is getting tighter, so you’ve got to go the digital route nowadays,’ he explains. ‘For me reliability is the only thing that really matters because if it doesn’t work, the show doesn’t happen. The Digital 6000 has really made our experience much nicer.

‘The MD 9235 is the quintessential rapper mic capsule, since there is almost no tonal change when an artist cups the mic and because it works really well out in front of a PA,’ Hoffmann continues. ‘If an artist likes to cup the mic that capsule is it – the only one.’ Hoffmann says he’s been using Sennheiser exclusively for the past five or six years for all the artists he works with, and that Scott was impressed on first hearing the Digital 6000 microphone system. ‘The moment I gave Travis this mic, he was like ‘It sounds like the studio in my ears.’’

Shawn Mendes was the second performer of the night, performing his Grammy-nominated hit ‘In My Blood’ – starting the track on solo piano before picking up a guitar and bringing the audience to its feet as part of a rousing duet. Mendes’ vocals were served by a Sennheiser SKM 2000 transmitter, coupled with an MMD 945 dynamic, super-cardioid capsule.

Mendes has already decided to upgrade to the Digital 6000 system: ‘The main catalyst on our moving to the Digital 6000 has to do with the way that the wireless market is shifting,’ says Shawn Mendes’ FOH engineer, Tom Wood. ‘With the Digital 6000, intermodulation is no longer an issue and the unit is so much more flexible.’

Mendes’ Monitor engineer Mike Flaherty concurs: ‘Essentially it is the increased bandwidth on the Digital 6000 that is the big game changer, but it also gives us extended audio range. Sennheiser’s support has been superb and we’ve been able to demo the unit wherever we’re touring in the world. Right now, we are just looking for a moment to make the switch.’

Sean Quackenbush

Wood says the Sennheiser MMD 945 capsule complements Mendes’ vocal style: ‘Shawn has a rich, powerful voice and we all agree that the MMD 945 suits this. He has always liked that mic’s response, and even though he’ll play guitar and will be walking around on the stage, it has great rejection. Tonally, it just complements the dynamics in his voice, whether he is really digging into it or not.’

Midway through the Awards, Brandi Carlile gave a passionate rendition of her Grammy-winning song ‘The Joke’, using a custom Neumann KMS 105 condenser microphone and singing alongside Phil and Tim Hanseroth – both of whom performed backing vocals through Sennheiser evolution e 935 microphones.

‘She is known for that microphone, and every performance you’ve ever seen is her singing into a Neumann KMS 105,’ says her FOH engineer, Sean Quackenbush. ‘It just works perfectly for her voice, and anytime we try another mic, we always go back. I love it and can’t go anywhere without it.’

During the performance, Quackenbush endeavoured to reproduce as much of the recorded version as possible, using his original Sennheiser MD 409 dynamic microphones for the lead guitar. ‘I use these very sparingly, but I thought it would be special to bring them out for this gig.’

‘Whatever we are doing, we always try to serve the same result – which is nothing short of the best performance that we can give,’ concludes Tom Wood. ‘At the Grammys, there is a certain kind of magic in the air and there is no changing the fact that this is the biggest music spectacle in the world.’

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