Traveling with a five-piece band and three background singers, Mary J. Blige's Breakthrough Experience Tour is outfitted with Sennheiser and Neumann wireless equipment, including microphones and G2 personal monitor systems, as well as antenna combiners.
Blige is a longtime user of the hybrid handheld microphone that combines a Neumann KK 105-S capsule with a Sennheiser SKM 5000-N transmitter. According to monitor engineer Ramon Morales, for this tour, Blige has the Neumann capsule paired with the new nickel-finish Sennheiser SKM 5200 handheld, which offers a redesigned user interface, mechanics and electronics compared to the previous model.
"The supercardioid 105 capsule is not for everyone," notes Morales, who started working with Blige in September 2005. "It depends on the artist and the situation," he says. "What helps with Mary is that the drummer is on a second level above her, and everybody is on ears, so there are no amps onstage. I have two wedges and that's it. It's a quiet stage and she's got so much energy we don't worry about her not giving us enough level. I'm actually turning her down!"
The background vocalists are using Sennheiser SKM 500-G2 series handheld transmitters paired with the MMD 935 dynamic cardioid capsule, which is designed for vocals in high stage SPL environments. "There are three of them, and I have two spare mics—guests mics—that are 935s, as well," he shares. Blige's handheld is picked up by a Sennheiser EM 3032 receiver, while the G2 mics are paired with EM 550-G2 dual-channel units.
Morales says that he is carrying nine channels of Sennheiser Evolution Series IEM 300G2 wireless personal monitors for Blige, the backing vocalists, guest singers and onstage technicians, plus a spare.
In addition to the Sennheiser-powered A12AD antennas, Morales is also making use of AC2/NT3 RF antenna combiners, which each allow up to four IEM 300-G2 transmitters to be combined onto a single antenna. "I have three combiners, as I'm using a total of nine units. They work great. It's a beautiful thing that they have power, as well. It makes it a lot easier. There's one AC cord and it powers four units. It's a great thing.
"I've hit some cities where it's kind of tough," he continues. "I'll scan Mary's monitor system and it only brings up one frequency. It's becoming harder and harder to find usable frequencies. But recently, I've been using what was pre-selected on all the units, and it seems to be working out pretty good."