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Sennheiser plays major role in BRIT Awards audio

Lily Allen

The annual BRIT Awards are as well renowned for their celebrity escapades – this year Liam Gallagher lobbed his microphone into the audience after accepting his award for BRITs Album of 30 Years for (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? – as they are for honouring the very best in music. The antics do not, however, eclipse the performances and great audio is high on the list of production priorities.

For the 8th year, Sennheiser UK offered the comprehensive technical support that BRITs’ sound designer Derrick Zieba. He relies on for this and other major events he is involved with.

The evening featured stunning performances from double BRIT Award winner Lady Gaga (International Female Solo Artist and International Breakthrough Act), duets from Florence and the Machine (MasterCard British Album for Lungs) and Dizzee Rascal (British Male Solo Artist) and Jay-Z and Alicia Keys, as well as performances by Cheryl Cole, Lily Allen, Kasabian, JLS and Robbie Williams.

“The BRITs is a very similar type of show to the MTV European Music Awards and relies on similar support,” says Zieba. “The RF requirements are very complex and for that reason having the Sennheiser team on hand is essential in order to have access to all the bands we need to licence on site for the show.”

All audio requirements were supplied via Britannia Row Productions

All audio requirements were supplied via Britannia Row Productions. An ew 300 G2 monitoring system with Vulcan IEM launch system – a custom dual-amplifier configuration to enable large multi-channel IEM systems to operate faultlessly in RF-hostile environments – was available for all artists using wireless monitoring, as well as for the pyrotechnics operator. EM 550 twin receivers plus G3 handheld transmitters were used by Lily Allen (SKM 945 G3), Dizzee Rascal (SKM 935 G3 custom gold) and Florence Welch (SKM 935 custom gold), whilst EM 3532 twin receivers plus SKM 5200 with either Neumann or Sennheiser heads were employed for all presenters, including host Peter Kay whose mic sported a Neumann KK 105 head.


Robbie Williams was using the new G3 Monitoring System

Fearne Cotton, who hosted the backstage artist interviews, used a custom crystal encrusted SKM 5200 handheld. Alicia Keys sang into an SKM 5200 with MD 5235 head, whilst Cheryl Cole used an SK 5212 miniature transmitter with HSP 4 custom headset. The show also featured a Sennheiser first, with Robbie Williams and his monitor engineer Charlie Bradley using the new 300 G3 monitoring system.

“As well as the usual high level of service they provide, Sennheiser UK did some extraordinary things for us that we just wouldn’t have time to do ourselves, and that no other supplier would do,” recalls Zieba. “For example, a highlight of the show was the duet between Dizzee and Florence. Dizzee has a special mic, but Florence doesn’t. However, her management decided they would like to have one. So Andy Lillywhite of Sennheiser UK stripped out a mic, gave the shell to one of the Blackfriars team, who took it away and sprayed it gold. Florence used it for the show and it was virtually indistinguishable from Dizzee’s mic.”

A very RF heavy show

“Having been involved with many artists who have performed at large shows over the years, it is always good to know that Sennheiser is on site assisting when and if required, with what is clearly a very RF heavy show,” adds visiting engineer Andy ‘Baggy’ Robinson. ”Both of the acts I came in to mix monitors for at the BRITs used Sennheiser products and, as ever, both the products and the support made things run very smoothly in an environment where radio is a very high priority thing.”

“It’s always an honour to be part of the team that works at the BRIT Awards,” concludes Mark Saunders, artist relations manager with Sennheiser UK. “It’s a high pressure environment, so using equipment we have the utmost confidence in is of paramount importance. The evolution wireless and SKM 5200 radio mics have performed flawlessly again this year – and we know they can even carry on after being thrown into the crowd.”


About Sennheiser

The Sennheiser Group, with its headquarters in Wedemark near Hanover, Germany, is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of microphones, headphones and wireless transmission systems. The family-owned company, which was established in 1945, recorded sales of over €385 million in 2008. Sennheiser employs more than 2,100 people worldwide, around 55% of whom are in Germany. Sennheiser has manufacturing plants in Germany, Ireland and the USA, and is represented worldwide by subsidiaries in France, Great Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark (Nordic), Russia, Hong Kong, India, Singapore, Japan, China, Canada, Mexico and the USA, as well as by long-term trading partners in many other countries. Also part of the Sennheiser Group are Georg Neumann GmbH, Berlin (studio microphones), and the joint venture Sennheiser Communications A/S (headsets for PCs, offices and call centres).