Black Eyed Peas switch to Sennheiser
The Black Eyed Peas have plenty to celebrate as they make their way around North America on the 2006 Honda Civic Tour. The tour commemorates The Black Eyed Peas' sixth anniversary together, and marks the stage-wide adoption by the multi-platinum band of Sennheiser Evolution Series wired and wireless G2 microphones and instrument systems. The Pussycat Dolls, who are opening for The Black Eyed Peas on the tour, are also fully-equipped with Sennheiser Evolution Wireless G2 microphone and personal monitor systems.
According to production manager and production designer, Anthony Randall, The Black Eyed Peas' four vocalists - Will.i.am, Fergie, apl.de.ap and Taboo - have already been using Evolution Wireless in-ears for three years. Also, two of their four backing musicians upgraded to the second generation EW 300 IEM G2 systems for the tour. But this year, The Black Eyed Peas made a wholesale switch to Sennheiser microphones for every stage application, adopting SKM 935 G2 cardioid vocal mics across the front, plus Evolution 600 and 900 series instrument mics, as well as Sennheiser wireless instrument systems, for the backline.
"It was the 'ears' that first got me into the Sennheiser camp," says Randall. "I've been tour engineer for a number of years and mostly went with a well known competitor. Since the Evolution series 'evolved' onto the touring scene they've shaken some major relationships. I believe that to effectively work with a microphone manufacturer, you have to evaluate the whole package. Of course you want unbeatable fidelity, solid performance, road-worthy ruggedness, that takes precedent, but then there's the intangible value of customer service and technical support. Given all those parameters, Sennheiser comes out a winner. And to top it off, the Evolution 935 is a great mic and fits the way the bands loves to sound."
The new second-generation Evolution Wireless systems were praised by Tony Cooper, audio manager and monitor engineer, he says: "The newer generation is so much better, with smaller packs, and it sounds better." The autoscan feature on the G2 wireless equipment helps find usable frequencies very quickly at each venue along the road. "Autoscan is so useful. It stops the chaos," he says. "Now we have a fighting chance in this crowded RF world. I'm running thirty channels of RF for the show with six sets of artist G2 ears and one cue through a Yamaha PM5D. All of the monitors are outfitted with Future Sonics ear buds."
As he gets more familiar with the Sennheiser mic and personal monitoring systems, FOH engineer David Haines says: "They're great, especially the 935 vocal mics. I like the sound so much better than any of our previous mics. They seem smoother to me, not so harsh, and sound as if they have more 'texture'. I use less EQ with them, and it's not as much work to get them to sound how I want, especially on Fergie. She's the biggest challenge for me, EQ-wise. She loves dynamics, singing very loud and very soft, so that's a big challenge."
One unusual item stands out on the band's input list - tables. Haines explains, "We have this part in the show at the beginning of the encore when the drummer and the keyboard player come out with these tables that they bang around. That's a little different - a little bit of 'Stomp' action. We've got Sennheiser e604 tom mics mounted in the tables with Sennheiser SK500G2 wireless transmitters." According to Haines, "The new Sennheiser system outperforms the previous setup, which would typically start to fall apart as the tour progressed. This is working much better."
The backline utilizes e901 and e902 kick drum mics with an e905 on the snare, e904s on the toms and e614s on the hi-hat and cymbals, plus e906s on the instrument speaker cabinets. "I love them!" says Haines of the e906s. The Sennheiser MD421-II is used for sax and flute, while Printz Board, the musical director, liked the Neumann TLM103 for trumpet.Acoustic and electric guitars and bass all use Sennheiser SK500G2 bodypack transmitters and EM550G2 receivers. "Those sound good," shares Cooper. "They're some of the best I've ever heard." George Pajon, the guitar player initially said he hated all wireless. When he listened to himself through the G2 he said, "I'm going to be wireless all the time now. I love this."
The 2006 Honda Civic Tour made its way around the country until the end of May, when The Black Eyed Peas headed to South Africa for a benefit concert before embarking on a European tour.
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