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Sennheiser Supports NPR's 'Toast Of The Nation'

5.1 live broadcast from Tipitina's in New Orleans (January 12, 2006)

Never was the old adage about two heads being better than one more true than on New Year's Eve, when Mike Pappas, chief engineer of KUVO-FM in Denver, put two Neumann KU 100 "Fritz" binaural microphones into action during National Public Radio's 26th annual "Toast of the Nation." The 12-hour coast-to-coast live music special, hosted from the legendary Tipitina's Uptown nightclub in New Orleans, was broadcast in 5.1 surround sound for the second straight year.

"We needed to record a brass line, the classic New Orleans funeral procession," explains Pappas. "I wanted to be able to do that in conventional stereo and 5.1 surround, so the easy solution was to use a Neumann KU 100." Also known as "Fritz," the KU 100 is a model human head with microphone elements located inside its replica ears that produces highly realistic binaural stereo.

"The brass line marched through twenty blocks of the city. I marched with them for eight of those," Pappas reports. "Eight blocks in 80-degree weather, with the sun beating down and about 100 percent humidity." His only microphone source was the KU 100 dummy head. "It's great," he notes. "It's really easy and convenient, and it produces killer stereo. When you're literally marching along with the band you need to get something up in the air that you know is going to work. I didn't have time for a second shot."

As Pappas reveals, a second KU 100 was also put to use inside Tipitina's to capture rear-channel ambience for the 5.1 music mix of the stage performances by engineer Duke Markos. "Our other KU 100 was hung up in the club, from the second story rafters, lest he get taken home by some of the revelers! The club flushed the last of the customers out at 6:30 in the morning," Pappas shares.

Sennheiser provided extensive support for the event, which included performances by The Hot 8 Brass Band and funk band, Galactic. The event, which marked the very first live national music broadcast from New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina, helped raise funds for Tipitina's Foundation, an organization established to preserve the city's cultural traditions by helping displaced local music artists find housing and instruments.

A variety of Sennheiser and Neumann microphones were supplied directly from Germany and Sennheiser Electronic Corporation in Old Lyme, Connecticut in order to make the New Orleans broadcast possible. The selection of mics included Sennheiser SKM5000 handheld transmitters outfitted with Neumann KK104 capsules for the announcers, plus six Sennheiser EW300IEMG2 setups to provide IFB monitoring to the on-air talent, producers and engineers.

Sennheiser additionally provided wireless SKM935G2s, plus wired MD421-IIs, MKH50s, MKH60 shotguns, MKH800s and Evolution series E902, E905, E614 and E935 microphones backed by Sennheiser EM3532 and EM550G2 dual true diversity transmitters. In addition to the KU 100s, Neumann also supplied a number of KM 184, TLM 170, TLM 193 and TLM 127 microphones. "Everything was absolutely spectacular," says Pappas. "All the mics were perfect."

Having enjoyed tremendous growth over its 60-year history, Sennheiser is dedicated to repaying the company's good fortune through its contributions to charitable events worldwide. Toast of the Nation is just the latest in a string of fundraising events with which Sennheiser has been involved, including the Nelson Mandela Foundation's 46664 campaign to raise global AIDS awareness and the recent worldwide Live 8 events.

Toast of the Nation was hosted from outside NPR's Washington, D.C. studios for the first time in its history. It was produced from a 44-foot trailer outside the club in which Pappas and the broadcast crew set up a temporary 5.1 mix studio, transmission, quality assurance and communications facilities, and a large four-person announce booth. NPR's signature annual event was a co-production with member station WBGO Jazz 88/Newark in association with the Tipitina's Foundation, and was hosted by WBGO's Rhonda Hamilton from the makeshift "broadcast village."

About Sennheiser
Established in 1945 in Wedemark, Germany, Sennheiser is the acknowledged world leader in microphone technology, RF-wireless and infrared sound transmission, headphone transducer technology, and most recently, in the development of active noise-cancellation. Sennheiser Electronic Corporation is the U.S. wholly owned subsidiary, with headquarters in Old Lyme, Connecticut.

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Related Keywords:Sennheiser, NPR, Toast Of The Nation, Neumann KU 100, microphones, Mike Pappas, SKM5000, KK104, EW300IEMG2, SKM935G2s,


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