If it's the end of May it must be the annual politico-pantomime that is Eurovision. This year, Norway hosted the competition from the Telenor Arena in Oslo, and it proved to be the biggest challenge to date for Sennheiser, who have provided the microphone and in-ear monitoring inventory 25 times in 26 years. At the insistence of broadcaster NRK, Sennheiser Nordic was asked to provide 100 channels of wireless tech for the European popfest.
One of the EBU's rules for the contest is: a maximum of six persons can perform on stage; that's any combination of leads and backing vox, but strictly six singers maximum, and no live instruments (yes, that's all mimed).
Previously, this has been undertaken using 12 wireless headset microphones and 12 wireless handheld microphones, flip-flopping between an A set and a B set, plus six spare sets of each type.
This time, however, NRK (Norsk Rikskringkasting AS) has demanded extra flexibility, security, back-up and speed during the production. So, while one act is on stage, another is waiting in the wings; a third is 'on the stairs' waiting to go, and a fourth in a rehearsal suite, being fitted with their in-ears and headset mics and running through a last-minute monitor mix of their song. Each band has roughly 24 seconds to position itself in front of the 23,000-strong audience (and the 125 million watching around the world).
Sennheiser RF expert Jonas Naesby specified 64 wireless microphones and 26 in ear monitoring systems, plus an additional IEMs and mics for the monitor engineers and camera crews. (Handheld transmitters were 32 units of Sennheiser SKM 5200 plus Neumann KK 105 capsules, and 24 beltpack SK 5212 transmitters).
“We are using the newest receiver generation, with a switching bandwidth of 184MHz," said Naesby. "On previous arrangements like this, several types of hardware (receivers) have been used. Now it is only one type, but we are tuning them differently.
“We use the new 2000 series in ear monitoring system, with diversity beltpack receivers.”
As usual at Eurovision, the biggest RF hang-up is interference from ENG teams reporting on the event. Naesby told PSN-eLive at the event he had encountered 30 different teams breaching the 'no radio wireless' rules posted around the backstage area.
AVAB-CAC provided the Meyer Sound PA system in the actual arena, as well as making extensive use of their Midas digital console collection: two XL8s in the monitor position (one redundant), four PRO6s in the mix position (two redundant).
Midas brand development manager, Richard 'Fez' Ferriday, at Eurovision caretaking the consoles, commented, “The quality of the production and the personnel they have in there is astonishing. AVAB-CAC have some seriously high calibre engineers just waiting to put beltpacks on people backstage.”
The eventual winner in Oslo was Germany's Lena (pictured) with the retro-sounding Satellite. The UK were last - again.
+ More Eurovision in July's PSNE