A recent star-studded grand-opening gala gave one of the nation's premier casinos a chance to not only showcase itself to patrons, but also to bolster its emerging reputation among performing artists as a cutting-edge sound venue.

Dozens of popular acts turned out for a weekend party June 22-23 to celebrate the end of a $1 billion expansion to Mohegan Sun, the world-class gaming, entertainment and shopping complex located in Uncasville, Connecticut, just up the Atlantic coast from New York City. Acts included Cher, Cyndi Lauper, Rosie O'Donnell and the Blues Brothers.

Some of the $1 billion spent on the complex went toward outfitting its three live entertainment venues with some of the best audio equipment on the market today, including Neumann microphones and Drawmer noise gates and compressors, recognized leaders in professional quality audio components.

Neumann and Sennheiser played an additional key behind-the-scenes role in the gala, lending the casino one of just ten prototypes in the US of its new wireless microphone combo that will hit the market later this year. For Gene Mulcahy, lead audio engineer for Mohegan Sun, landing the new Neumann KK 105-S capsule wedded to a Sennheiser SKM 5000 transmitter specifically for use by entertainer Rosie O'Donnell, one of the showcase acts for the gala, was a coup.

"The mic had to be right for her and I wanted to make sure she had the very best," Mulcahy says. "I had seen the prototype in use at Divas Las Vegas and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and I asked Neumann if they could lend us one for our gala."

Mulcahy says the new wireless mic worked flawlessly, allowing O'Donnell to roam the stage in comfort and confidence. "I was ecstatic to be able to get this for our grand opening. Its performance was stunning," Mulcahy says. "It was ready to go, right out of the box, with no EQ. I just pushed high-pass filter and turned it on." Impressed, Mulcahy plans on ordering a number of the new mic combos to add to their Neumann collection of six KMS 105s, four U 87As; six TLM 103s; six KM 184s; and six KM 185s.

"I'm a big user of traditional KMS 105s but this new combo is a wonderful marriage of the Sennheiser wireless transmitter with the new KK 105-S capsule," he says. "There's really nothing better than Sennheiser in wireless. Once you drive a Porsche you can't drive anything else."

For Mulcahy, who took over the lead audio engineer slot seven months ago, acquiring the best audio equipment is part of a drive to make Mohegan Sun an unparalleled live entertainment spot. The equipment in the recently completed 10,000-seat Mohegan Sun Arena, as well as the 350-seat Wolf Den and the Mohegan Sun Cabaret is designed to give every act access to the best sound capabilities.

"Our goal is for whoever walks in here, whatever they want it will be here," he says. "Our artists are just as important to us as our gaming guests, and artists are choosing to play here because of that. When you get acts like ZZ Top and Journey leaving their gear at home and using ours that says a lot. Many who come here are not even carrying full production, choosing to use our PA system."

In addition to adding new wireless mics, Mulcahy says he's looking forward to getting his hands on a new Drawmer analog compressor. The new six-channel compressor limiter, dubbed the Drawmer "6-pack," will be a great addition.

"Six channels of Drawmer in a three-rack space will be a dynamite piece," he says. Mulcahy is meeting his goal of barring virtually no expense to cater to the public, as well as the entertainers.

"My motto is it has to be right from the beginning," he says. "I hope that word is getting out."