SENNHEISER’S EARS COVER LIVE EARTH
Live Earth, a 24-hour series of concerts to raise awareness of the planet’s climate crisis, lived up to its billing as the largest global music event ever, with performances from all seven continents being broadcast to a potential audience of 2.2 billion people. Sennheiser brought 50 years of wireless technology experience to bear for this unique event, which had placed unprecedented technical demands on broadcast and live production companies worldwide.
At the new Wembley Stadium in London, Sennheiser personnel were working alongside concert sound provider Britannia Row Productions to support artists such as Madonna, Foo Fighters, Pussycat Dolls, Keane, Black Eyed Peas, Bloc Party, Kasabian, Beastie Boys and Corinne Bailey Rae. Every wireless personal monitor used onstage by the 21 acts was a Sennheiser evolution wireless G2 system, and each of the presenters, which included Chris Rock, Ricky Gervais, Eddie Izzard and Rob Reiner, used a Sennheiser SKM 5200 wireless microphone.
Jason Kirschnick, Eighth Day Sound Systems, was responsible for Madonna’s Sennheiser wireless complement. Purchased last year for the “Confessions” world tour, the system was expanded to 24 channels for Live Earth London, so Kirschnick was thankful for the onsite support. “It is always a pleasure working with the Sennheiser crew. Mark Saunders, relations manager for Europe, the Middle East, Africa & India, and Dave Hawker, frequency coordinator and planner for Sennheiser UK make my job a little easier.”
Bryan Grant, co-owner of Britannia Row Productions, was at Wembley Stadium working on a major televised concert for the second time in a week, having also provided production, working with Sennheiser, for the “Concert for Diana.” “The quality of Sennheiser equipment is a given, and their radio crew, as always, was there to help deal with last minute changes and inevitable minor glitches,” says Grant.
Foo Fighters’ monitor engineer Ian Beveridge reports that frontman Dave Grohl used a custom-chromed Sennheiser MD 431-II mic on the stage thrust and a second, black version on the main stage. Beveridge, who has worked with Grohl since his time with Nirvana, has long favored the MD 431-II for its ability to be run with a minimum of processing and for its immunity to temperature and moisture. At Live Earth London, he reveals, “I had no EQ on the wedge other than what comes with the processor, and no EQ on the channel other than a high-pass filter. It was tremendous, and I had a lot of compliments on the vocals.”
At Giants Stadium in New Jersey, concert sound was provided by Firehouse Productions where Kristy Jo Winkler, Sennheiser relations manager for the
Americas and Canada, was working with The Police, Dave Matthews Band, Smashing Pumpkins and Akon. Firehouse Productions’ Vinny Siniscal, RF coordinator for this location, assembled a Sennheiser G2 wireless IEM system with 32 body-packs, and an A 5000 CP antenna. Siniscal managed approximately 150 channels of RF and reports, “two-thirds of the “in-ear” systems were G2 ears. Every single artist used at least two mixes of Sennheiser ears.”
Hamburg was the venue where Sennheiser was most widely used – around 80 radio links, both wireless microphones and wireless monitoring, featured at the concert in the Hanseatic city. Nineteen of the 23 artists used Sennheiser. Shakira, who opened the concert, sang with her SKM 3072 and “personalized capsule”, according to her monitor engineer Vish Wadi. Snoop Dogg used his personalized evolution wireless SKM 935 microphone. Almost all the other artists, including Yusuf Islam (formerly known as Cat Stevens), Roger Cicero and Sasha, used the SKM 5200 and the new MD 5235 capsule. Noted FOH manager Bernd Buthe and monitor engineer Horst Hartmann: “This microphone head is a superb addition to the 5000 line. Its strengths are particularly evident with pop and rock music – hence its nickname ‘Rockheiser.’ The microphone sounds fantastic and is very good-natured. It’s easy for the artists to operate and very forgiving, for example when they move the mic around a lot.”
In Shanghai, China, Sennheiser and production company LAB provided a stage-wide complement of wired and wireless microphones plus wireless personal monitor systems. Nearly every artist, including Sarah Brightman, Anthony Wong, Eason Chan, Evonne Hsu, Huang Xiao Ming and Joey Yung, used this equipment for their performance. According to Vince Tan, relations manager for Asia and Australia, a potential problem at the Oriental Pearl venue, which is adjacent to a television transmission tower, was easily bypassed with the frequency agility of the Sennheiser RF equipment. “The RF spectrum was full when the receivers were set up. However, we managed to circumvent this situation and had our wireless working like a breeze.”
In Japan, too, artists took advantage of a stage full of Sennheiser wireless and wired systems. At Live Earth Tokyo, Ai Otsuka and Kumi Koda each used a Sennheiser SKM 5200 RF handheld with Neumann KK 105-S capsule, while Rihanna performed with a Sennheiser SKM 935. Most of the instrument mics used in
Tokyo and Kyoto, where Yellow Magic Orchestra and UA performed, were Sennheiser e 900 series products.
Sennheiser wireless personal monitors and microphones were preferred elsewhere around the world by artists such as Jack Johnson, Eskimo Joe, and Silverchair in Australia. Other artists making use of Sennheiser equipment for this worldwide event included Joss Stone in Johannesburg, South Africa, who used a Sennheiser wireless handheld mic with a Neumann capsule. For the concert on the beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Xuxa and Jota Quest chose Sennheiser microphones.