Joni Mitchell and Brandi Carlile use Sennheiser

Joni Mitchell’s historic GRAMMY Awards performance, featuring Brandi Carlile, Jacob Collier, Blake Mills, Allison Russell, Lucius and SistaStrings, was captured with a variety of Sennheiser microphones, including Carlile and Mitchell’s own custom gold SKM 6000 handheld transmitters with Neumann KK 205 condenser capsules.

Mitchell has won ten GRAMMY Awards since taking home her first in 1970, for her second album, Clouds.  Prior to the broadcast she won her latest GRAMMY, for Best Folk Album, for Joni Mitchell at Newport, a live recording from the 2022 Newport Folk Festival, an event she first played in 1967. Mitchell accepted the award with Carlile, who, as the album’s producer, also won a GRAMMY.

Working with the GRAMMY audio team, Sean Quackenbush, Carlile’s front-of-house engineer for the past eight years, put Sennheiser microphones on most of the musicians for Mitchell’s performance, which featured everyone seated in a semi-circle, with Collier at the grand piano. Carlile, who owns a pair of gold-plated SKM 6000s with KK 205 capsules and Digital 6000 receivers, gifted Mitchell an identical set last year for her eightieth birthday, reports Quackenbush, who brought all four mics and receivers to the Arena for the show following rehearsals at Mitchell’s house the day before.

For background vocals he chose Sennheiser MMD 935 dynamic capsules for Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig of Lucius, and Chauntee and Monique Ross of SistaStrings. “We put a pair of e 906s on Blake Mills’ amp for stereo; he’s just a genius artist. And we put a Neumann KM 184 condenser mic on Allison Russell’s clarinet, which sounded fantastic, and a KM 184 on the cello, which sounded beautiful,” he commented.

Quackenbush also noted that he wanted to make sure that the FOH mixer was able to get enough gain before feedback with everyone monitoring through floor wedges. “But from the moment Joni opened her mouth it was just brilliant. There’s so much power in her voice, it’s amazing. That microphone captures and projects as if you’re standing right next to her singing in her living room. There’s no coloration. It’s the purest sound that you can possibly get,” he noted.

Quackenbush also won a GRAMMY Award for his role as recording engineer on Joni Mitchell at Newport. The album captured Mitchell’s surprise first public performance since suffering a brain aneurysm in 2015. “It’s Joni’s moment and Joni’s award, and I’m just fortunate enough to be a part of it,” he said. “When I showed up at the GRAMMYs 20-something years ago with Robert Randolph and the Family Band, who would have thought that years later I would win a GRAMMY?”