Photo: Lyle Waisman Photography
Coheed & Cambria's recent tour is taking them through larger venues, whereby front-of-house engineer/production manager Pete Robertson is upgrading the band's mics and monitor systems to the Sennheiser Evolution Weries wired microphones and wireless monitor systems.
The greatest improvement has come with all four members switching to Sennheiser e 945 dynamic vocal microphones, according to Robertson, who started in live sound nearly 23 years ago while in his early teens and has been with the band for almost three years. "The 945s are supercardioid, so off-axis rejection is great. Plus," he says, "with several other microphones that I've used out there, from just about every other manufacturer, they each need a tiny bit of EQ, depending on the application and the singer's voice. With the 945, I find that I need only very, very minimal EQ on any of these guys.
"The band is very dynamic, from very quiet, very mellow songs to tear-your-face-off, metalesque rock 'n' roll," he continues. "sSo with the dynamics involved, I'm getting a lot of good gain out of the e 945 microphone. I found that, starting out with another microphone, I was driving it quite harshly and getting a lot more noise out of the board. At that point in touring, with some of those boards, more gain equaled more hiss. Now, I'm not driving the mic amps as hard to get as much gain as I need, especially with Claudio [Sanchez], our lead singer. He's got a very youthful voice, very soft, very high-pitched. Everyone compares him to [Rush vocalist and bassist] Geddy Lee. Because he doesn't push a lot of air with his vocals, the high gain of the 945 is very helpful."
Putting each of the four main members of the band on Sennheiser ew 300 IEM G2 personal monitors has also helped the stage sound tremendously, says Robertson, who recalls how loud it used to be onstage when he first started working with the band. "I remember one day taking my SPL meter up onstage with them as they were performing. So with vocals through the monitors, sidefills and each musician with two 15-inch boxes in front of them, plus a drumfill, we had a volume of about 108 dB, A-weighted, onstage. It was awful. The only musician on a wedge now is Dave Parker on keyboards."
Robertson has also adopted a number of Sennheiser microphones for the backline, in addition to bringing along some personal mics. "I've had my Neumann KM 184s for maybe five years. Instead of doing a traditional overhead, I'm doing an 'underhead' on drum claws. The drummer, Josh Eppard, is very minimalist with the amount of metal that he has on his drum kit. It's just a crash and a ride, with one other crash on the ride side. I'm able to get both those with one mic." Robertson additionally uses e 604s on Eppard's toms.
"Finally, I'm using a combination of a Sennheiser e 609 Silver with another mic on the two guitars. We've been having very good luck with that," says Robertson, who has enjoyed a parallel career to live sound in his Woodstock Wired studio design business. "I design home studios, commercial studios, high-end home theater, I had the international contracts for Planet Hollywood and Hard Rock Live, so I did all their A/V systems worldwide for about six years. But live sound is my love."
For more information on the Sennheiser gear, visit www.sennheiserusa.com.