Frank Filipetti Picks Sanken Mics for Grammy-winner “The Color Purple”
Selection of CU-44X, CO-100K, and the new CU-55
Los Angeles, CA, March 2017 — Grammy Award-winning producer/engineer Frank Filipetti (George Michael, koRn, James Taylor) has added a seventh Grammy to his collection. Filipetti was the lead music producer and recording engineer/mixer for 2017’s Best Musical Theater Album: “The Color Purple.” He employed a variety of Sanken Chromatic professional studio microphones.
Credits for the new show are Cynthia Erivo & Jennifer Hudson, principal soloists; Frank Filipetti, Stephen Bray, Scott Sanders, and Van Dean, producers; and Stephen Bray, Brenda Russell & Allee Willis, composers/lyricists.
Filipetti, who was also responsible for recording the original 2005 Broadway debut of “The Color Purple,” recalls, “It was a traditional show in the sense that you had a traditional Broadway band. I think we had 14 or 15 pieces. It had all the requisite sets, and carried the story through nicely.”
In 2016, Filipetti was called on once again to record the cast album, but the new staged revival was very different. “When I walked in I saw that the stage was very small and bare, except for some chairs. It looked like it was going to be more like a review than a show, and I had a little trepidation about the project. The music was pared down from a traditional orchestra to only eight instruments, and no strings at all. But by the end of the show, I was totally mesmerized. It was one of the most beautiful, intimate, and emotional shows I’ve seen in many years.”
In his 30 years of recording Broadway shows, Filipetti has only recorded the cast in the theater three times, because costs are so prohibitive. For this revival, he recorded at New York City’s Avatar Studios. Rules and regulations required the entire recording to be done in only one day.
“We rented out the main big room where I recorded the band, and I had a booth for the two principal singers in the studio with the musicians. I also rented out a second room where I recorded all the choir members and the step-outs, for when someone who is in the chorus takes lead lines in a particular song.”
For recording those robust Broadway vocals, Filipetti typically calls on his six Sanken dual-capsule CU-44X MK II condenser microphones. “I also have five Sanken 100Ks,” he adds, “which I used as the overhead room mics for brass and woodwinds. Those are my main ambience mics. They have an openness and an airiness unlike other Omni’s. The 100Ks seem to capture all that low end and mid range with the same sweetness, but they also have that incredible extension in the top.”
Filipetti rounded out his microphone selection with Sanken’s new CU-55 side-address, cardioid condenser mics, which he used as close-up spot mics on the woodwinds. “They have a wonderful low frequency response while still providing super quick transients. You get a lot of air without harshness, and the low end is really nice and deep.”
Pictured (L-R) are Van Dean, Stephen Bray, Cynthia Erivo, Scott Sanders, Jhett Tolentino, and Frank Filipetti. Photo by Andrew Hendrick.