Sennheiser reaches new heights on P!nk’s world tour
AUSTRALIA: P!nk is using an array of equipment from Sennheiser on The Truth About Love arena tour, which is currently touring in Australia. The 140-date tour sees P!nk flying above the audience, dancing between two stages and diving into water, which demanded custom solutions from the audio specialist.
‘With this tour, the biggest challenge is that she is in the air so much,’ said monitor assistant and sound engineer, Ben Byford. ‘This show takes it further than anything I have ever done just because of the distances she can fly over the audience, the height, the movement – including spinning on her own axis. It’s definitely pushing it to a new level – technically and physically for her as well. It was vital to plan for this and get equipment that worked for the job.’
‘The whole show is essentially all Sennheiser: every microphone, every in-ear system and every radio system,’ he stated. ‘The in-ears we use are Sennheiser 2000 series IEM systems. P!nk uses an SKM 2000 microphone, but with an MD 9235 head. The in-ear piece that she uses is a special prototype that we’re helping to test – a custom-made in-ear with an integrated microphone.’
The custom solution was developed by monitor engineer, Horst Hartmann, who worked closely with Sennheiser. ‘As well as the challenge of the range of motion, we also needed to provide P!nk with a headset that could also work in front of the PA because she is often flying above the audience and through the whole room,’ Mr Hartmann explained. ‘Additionally, the microphone had to sound as good as a hand-held one and had to be extremely resistant to feedback, like a hand-held would be.’
A headset with a neckband was ruled out because the set-up time would inhibit costume changes. They also needed a precise fit, as use of a cardioid mic meant that it would have to stay in position right at the corner of P!nk’s mouth in order to retain the correct level of sound. On past tours, the team had used an earset mic taped in position on P!nk’s face, but tried something different this year.
‘We came up with the idea of an in-ear with an integrated microphone,’ said Mr Hartmann. ‘I’d seen referees, pilots and fire fighters wearing this but that’s about communication – walkie-talkie rather than the hi-fi quality we demanded. The capsule was already there: that of the HSP 4, an incredible microphone. Working with Sennheiser, we then developed the “hardware” around this capsule.’
‘Being integrated means that it’s very much set at the right position because it’s custom-made to the curve of her face, so there’s no movement,’ added monitor engineer Jon Lewis. ‘There’s nothing to tighten or loosen – once it’s clicked into the in-ear piece, that’s it! This was perfect as any movement would have made things impossible, given the circus-style aspects of the show.’
‘Sennheiser developed this just for P!nk’s current tour, and she liked it from the start,’ enthused Mr Hartmann. ‘No other company offers this kind of product at the moment. And while it’s a prototype, it’s proved reliable – we don’t have any dropouts when she is flying through the hall. It works perfectly.’
For miking the band, Chris Madden, FOH, and Mr Hartmann turned to the brand’s range of wired Sennheiser microphones. The kick drum was miked with an e 901 and an e 902, while the hi-hat and ride cymbal were picked up using e 914s. Two MKH 80s were used as overheads. The guitar cabs were captured with a total of three e 906s. The Leslie speaker was miked by three MK 4s, with two of them positioned at the top of the speaker, and one at the bottom.
In order to capture the audience reactions for the artists’ IEM receivers, two cardioid MKH 8040s were used for outside left and right, two MKH 8060 short gun mics for inside left and right as well as two MKH 8070 long gun microphones for far left and right.
‘It’s a great pleasure for Sennheiser to be able to support high flying touring artists such as P!nk,’ said Pierre Morant, global relations manager for EMEA at Sennheiser. ‘Taking a hands-on and collaborative approach is the key to making these relationships successful and to delivering the best service and products. In this case, working closely with Horst Hartmann was the key to innovating a new solution that has taken our ability to deliver flawless sound to – quite literally – new heights.’