Neumann microphones and Sennheiser personal monitors figure prominently in Barry Manilow's new long-term engagement at the Las Vegas Hilton, which started at the end of February 2005. The international superstar, who has produced more than 50 albums during 30 years of performing, is presenting "Manilow: Music and Passion" five times a week for 24 weeks throughout 2005 and into 2006.
Front-of-house engineer John Godenzi reports that Neumann KK 104-S and KK 105-S microphone capsules on Sennheiser SKM5000N handheld transmitters are being used by the artist and his four backing singers in the traditional Broadway-style show. "We're using four of the 105s on the backing singers/dancers," he confirms. "Barry uses four microphones in different places on the stage, but the main two are the cardioid KK 104-S."
"Manilow: Music and Passion" features a big band–style, nearly all-electronic 12-piece orchestra that also makes use of Sennheiser and Neumann microphones. Continues Godenzi. "There are Sennheisers on most of the drums. I like the little e604s. I have them on the toms, on the congas and on the bongos. I have MD441s on the tympanis. And there's a Neumann on the sax."
Godenzi, who has been James Taylor's FOH engineer for the past 15 years, was originally hired to create Manilow's personal monitor mix on his 2004 One Night Live! One Last Time! arena tour, which saw the star hit the road for one final sold-out tour and played to 250,000 fans in 22 cities. As Godenzi relates, during rehearsals in January for the Las Vegas Hilton engagement, Manilow tapped him for the FOH position. "Barry decided he wanted me to do front of-house. In the morning I was doing his ears, and in the afternoon I was out in front!"
Prior to moving to FOH, Godenzi had already put together a hybrid personal monitor system for nearly everybody onstage that combines Sennheiser EW300IEM-G2 wireless systems with wired Aviom personal mixers. The rig was assembled initially in response to problems that Manilow was having with his personal monitor mix, which required one engineer dedicated to his mix and a second engineer to mix for the bandmembers.
The new setup, which is driven by the Yamaha PM1D monitor desk, requires only one engineer and provides the musicians with individual control of their mixes, he explains. "It's a 16-stem system, so they can each create their own mix and dial-up their own balance. If you get the design right in the beginning and you build those 16 stem mixes correctly, then it works really well," he says.
Everybody apart from Manilow uses an Aviom mixer. The three bandmembers—the guitarist and two horn players—prefer to remain on wedges. Godenzi, who put together a similar system for Taylor's 2004 summer tour, comments, "It's very cost-effective and it's a good way to go, especially for this type of show where there's no line of sight to the monitor console."