Bono U2 “Invisible” Mic

U2-Circular Mic

For U2’s new song “Invisible,” and to support RED (the charity set up to fight AIDS), U2 launched a TV commercial during the 2014 Super Bowl. The ad shows U2 in concert performing “Invisible,” and Bono hanging onto a circular lighted microphone suspended from the ceiling/rafters. You can find out more about the album that will include “Invisible” on the @U2 site here:

Bono had the mic designed so that he could hang from it and fly out over the audience. U2 went to Tommy Voeten, President of 1212-Studio, to ask for a lighting design for their live show, and after one thing led to another, Bono asked for the circular mic (3D-printed), named the U2MIC. You can read about the design of both the mic and the other lighting and 3D printed stuff (Dimension 3D printer) here:

For 24 hours after the commercial aired, you could download the song from iTunes for free. And for each download, Bank of America would donate $1.00 to support RED.

Interestingly, there is no mention on the Stratasys story (link above) about what kind of microphone was incorporated into the design. If they didn’t use an existing commercial microphone, it would at least have been helpful to know about the mic’s specs. But based on how it is being used (live lead vocals), it is almost certainly a dynamic mic (for a primer on the difference between a dynamic and condenser mic, see my post What Is the Difference Between Condenser and Dynamic Microphones?), such as a Shure SM-58, which is probably the single most widely-used stage microphone ever.

In fact, in an interview with Daniel Lanois, long-time U2 Producer (though he isn’t producing this new record), he says “I’ve always recorded Bono’s vocals through a Shure SM58 or 58 Beta.” What?! That’s unheard of. Well, clearly not. But it’s nowhere near conventional wisdom to record with a Shure SM58. Conventional wisdom says to record vocals with a large diaphragm condenser microphone and sing live with a dynamic. But rules and conventions are meant to be broken. In fact, I remember reading that Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne have also been known to record vocals with the 58, so…

Anyway, I would be surprised if the actual microphone in the new U2MIC were much different (if at all different) from the Shure SM58.

I don’t know if you’ll be able to buy your own U2MIC any time soon. But you can certainly get a standard Shure SM58 or Shure BETA 58 any time. Just don’t try to hang from it over your audience;).

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