From L-R: Backstreet Boys A.J. McLean, Howie Dorough, Brian Littrell and Nick Carter with Sennheiser SKM 565 G2 wireless handheld mics
Photo: Andre Csillag
The Backstreet Boys are currently on their Unbreakable Tour using Sennheiser SKM 565 G2 wireless handheld mics, along with Sennheiser ew 300 IEM G2 personal monitoring systems. Monitor engineer Doug Deems found that the SKM 565 G2, an ME 865 super-cardioid condenser capsule atop the SKM 500 RF handheld, was the overall best fit for the group.
“I wanted everybody on the same capsule,” Deems says. “That was my main goal: to find something that they all sounded good with, and the ME 865 just sounds amazing on all four of them. It just jumped out.” For the Unbreakable Tour, the Backstreet Boys have had the vocal mics customized with a black gloss finish and gold windscreens, says Deems.
“As for the G2 personal monitors,” says Deems, “I flat out won’t use anything else. I don’t know how you can listen to all the available units side by side and not choose the G2s.” In addition to the four singers, two backline techs are also on ew 300 IEMs on a communications network that also includes the FOH and monitor engineers and the backing band’s musical director.
The Backstreet Boys’ Sennheiser wireless system
To ensure interference-free performance of more than 20 wireless channels, Deems relies on SIFM (Sennheiser Intermodulation and Frequency Management) software. Available as a free download from Sennheiser’s Website, the SIFM software enables the rapid calculation of intermodulation-free radio frequencies for wireless microphone and monitoring systems.
“It’s probably the one thing indispensable to getting 21 channels of RF spread out across four different frequency groups to work together. Learning about intermodulation and using SIFM have made it exponentially easier to keep all this wireless working,” says Deems. “I think it says a lot about Sennheiser as a company that they put this amazing tool on their site for free.”
To give the four singers—Nick Carter, Howie Dorough, Brian Littrell and A.J. McLean—ambience in their monitor mixes, Deems uses Sennheiser shotgun microphones. “Two of my room mics are MKH 416s. If you want it to sound like the room, just put up a pair of 416s,” Deems says.
Tour dates in the U.S. are currently scheduled to begin in August.