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Fitz & The Tantrums’ Monitor Engineer Aaron Glas Turns To Sensaphonics IEMs

Fitz & The Tantrums’ monitor engineer Aaron Glas

With a healthy string of successes and a nonstop tour schedule, Fitz & The Tantrums is reaping the benefits of doing things their own way. The band’s soul-inspired indie pop reflects the vision of founder Michael Fitzpatrick, delivering a big Stax/Motown sound, but without guitars. Fitzpatrick shares lead vocal duties with Noelle Scaggs, with the 6-piece group being filled out by drums, bass, saxophone, and keyboards.

As the band progressed from the Los Angeles club scene to larger stages, it became clear that it was time to convert to in-ear monitoring. From product selection to onstage transition, that process was overseen by monitor engineer Aaron Glas. After comparing the major brands available, the group selected custom IEMs from Sensaphonics.

“We were looking at all the major brands, and they all had great sound quality,” says Glas. “So it came down to comfort, isolation and fit. It was the soft silicone earpieces and personal service from Sensaphonics that won the band over.”

The band members chose various Sensaphonics models based on their needs. Vocalist Michael Fitzpatrick and keyboardist Jeremy Ruzumna chose the 3D Active Ambient, primarily for ease of interaction with other band members. Noelle Scaggs and multi-instrumentalist James King opted for the reference-flat response of the 2MAX, while bassist Joe Karnes selected the 3MAX. Drummer John Wicks elected to stay with his Shure SE535 fitted with custom-fit sleeves from Sensaphonics.

Because bandleader Michael Fitzpatrick was uncomfortable with being isolated from the stage, the 3D Active Ambient system was the perfect choice. The patented 3-D uses embedded binaural microphones and a bodypack mixer to provide natural band and audience interaction that can’t be achieved with any other IEM.

“My plan for the transition to 3D was to take it slow and get Fitz comfortable, but it happened really quickly,” recalls Glas. “First he put in the earpieces with no mix and said, ‘OK, give me my microphone.’ So I just put his voice in his head while he played with the attenuation of the ambience. Then he asked for a little reverb, walked the stage for about a half-hour, and then asked for the rest of the instruments. And he hasn’t used wedges since.”

Glas says he is pleased with the band’s decision to go with Sensaphonics. “As a monitor engineer, I love the level of control and consistency we get with no wedges on stage,” he notes. “The sound is outstanding. As an engineer, I would say these in-ears have a phase coherency that is more consistent than the competitors. There’s a clarity that I can hear, on a high level. And then you’ve got the isolation and comfort, which you just can’t get from an acrylic piece. We also get incredible support and hearing expertise from Dr. Santucci and everyone in the office. I recommend Sensaphonics to everyone I talk to.”

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Read Mix magazine’s Tour Profile story about Fitz & the Tantrums’ 2014 tour from Mix‘s May 2014 issue.