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Sennheiser Dances with the Stars

FOH Staff • News • May 9, 2008

LOS ANGELES – ABC Television’s Dancing with the Stars returned in mid-March for its sixth season with some of the highest profile celebrities to yet appear on the competition. Also taking a new starring role this season is Sennheiser, with Burbank-based wireless experts Soundtronics supplying the show’s audio mixer, Evan Adelman, with SKM 5200 RF handheld microphones outfitted with ME 5002 and MD 5235 capsules, MKE Platinum lavalier mics and SK 5012 and SK 5212 transmitters, plus a slew of instrument mics and HD 25 headphones for the orchestra members.

“I’ve found over the years that Sennheiser wireless products are very reliable and versatile,” comments Adelman, who has worked for many years on a wide variety of high-profile television comedy, music and awards shows and specials. “I have to have gear that sounds good. But the primary consideration is reliability. We all know that in electronics things sometimes fail, but the failure rate has to be as low as it could possibly be for television. With the help of Sennheiser’s Thom Salisbury, western regional sales manager and Dawn Birr, professional products manager in Old Lyme, I was able to put together the products that made my job a little easier.”

Adelman, along with his A2, Eric Johnston, are enthusiastic about the omni-directional ME 5002 condenser capsule atop the SKM 5200 wireless handheld, which is used by each of the show’s two hosts. “For years I’ve tried to use omni-directional microphones in broadcast for dialog purposes,” Adelman says. “I find, for interview purposes and for talent, they’re not plosive and it doesn’t matter where they hold the microphone. The only thing that changes is the level, because it’s omni-directional.”

But it wasn’t until the introduction of the Sennheiser 5002 capsule that he found what he was looking for. “Before it was virtually impossible to find a professional quality omni-directional handheld microphone made by anyone. For years I had been using an old Cetec Vega that had been modified with a Sennheiser MKE 2 [lavalier] capsule. It was basically an MKE 2 on a stick. As a matter of fact, that was what I was using on this show before Sennheiser came out with the 5002 capsule.”

Every body-pack transmitter on the show is either a Sennheiser SK 5012 or SK 5212, says Adelman. “The women tend to wear the 5012 because it’s slimmer. Every costume has a pouch sewn into it. We put in lithium batteries and turn them on probably six hours before show time. The pouch is sewn shut so there’s no way the body-pack can come out.”

“The men get the same treatment,” he continues. “Their costumes are usually more forgiving and not quite as form fitting as the women’s costumes so we use the slightly thicker SK 5212.”

The 17-piece orchestra is also outfitted with Sennheiser microphones, Adelman says. “The entire ten-piece horn section is on either MD 421s or e 914s. The reeds are on 914s and the trumpets and trombones are all on 421s. And everybody in the orchestra is wearing an HD 25 headset. I was looking for a headset that sounds good and is comfortable as some of the orchestra members like to wear two ears, some like to wear one, and some like to change, depending on what’s going on. With the HD 25s one side actually pivots and flips up, DJ-style, so it was the perfect choice for this show.”

The Sennheiser wireless equipment is also used by the guest artists, he shares. “When the guest artists send a rider, some of them will sometimes request different microphones, but when they get on the set, they use what we have – SKM 5200s with MD 5235 capsules – the same microphone they use on ‘American Idol.’”

Dancing with the Stars pairs celebrities with professional dancers who must teach the stars dance sequences in specific styles, with the lowest scoring pair eliminated each week. This season, the celebrities include an Academy Award-winner Marlee Maitlin, Tony Award-winner Marissa Jaret Winokur, Olympic Gold medalist Kristi Yamaguchi, nine-time Grand Slam tennis champion Monica Seles, and the Miami Dolphins’ Jason Taylor, NFL's current Man of the Year.


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