OLD LYME, CONNECTICUT: Country superstar Blake Shelton has earned the loyalty of fans with captivating live performances that center on the Oklahoma-born singer’s amazing voice. His most recent hit, a compelling rendition of Michael BublÃ©’s “Home,” grabbed the number one spot on the charts this past summer. This coupled with Shelton’s rigorous touring schedule of over one hundred shows this year, is introducing him to an ever-growing audience outside the country music realm. Shelton, his band, and his crew rely exclusively on Sennheiser wired and wireless technology to inspire performances and convey the authenticity of their craft to the enthralled crowds that pack arenas from coast to coast.
The tour’s plain-spoken and accomplished FOH mixer, Jeff “Pig” Parsons, is fairly in love with Shelton’s lead vocal mic, a Sennheiser SKM 935 G2 paired with a Sennheiser EM 550 G2 receiver. He laughed, “As you can imagine, vocals are everything at a Blake Shelton concert. If they’re not right, I’m sunk. The 935 capsule is beautiful and clean with a little high-end spike that matches Shelton’s voice perfectly. That’s the money shot right there!”
The tour’s monitor engineer, John Stoffel, noted that the high off-axis rejection and gain-before-feedback afforded by the 935 capsule makes his life a lot easier. “Unlike the rest of the band, Shelton is adamant about using wedges,” he explained. “With any other vocal mic, that would greatly increase the chance of feedback. But with the Sennheiser 935, it’s very easy for me to get his monitor vocal so loud that he’s asking me to turn it down! How often does that happen?” For backing vocals, Parsons uses a Sennheiser e 840.
All of the instruments on stage are covered by a veritable blanket of Sennheiser evolution series high performance mics, affording “Pig” the clarity and separation he needs to convey to the fans every nuance of Shelton and the band’s performance. The kick drums have an e 901 on the inside with a combination e 902 and e 602 on the outside. Two e 905s cover the snare top to deliver snap and body, and e 602s and self-clipping e 604s provide a voice for the sort of drum fills that will make a fan’s heart leap. Finally, an array of small diaphragm e 614 condensers capture crystalline crashes and hats.
“I get a lot of compliments on my lead guitar sound,” said “Pig,” “but I haven’t done much to earn it. The Sennheiser e 609s are responsible!” In addition, “Pig” uses an e 902 in conjunction with a DI to build a smooth electric bass tone that can move musical mountains. A pair of e 906s together with an e 602 do the same for the organ.
All of the mobile instruments, including Shelton’s two acoustic guitars, use Sennheiser ew 372 G2 and ew 172 G2 body-pack transmitter and receiver systems. All told, there are seven such systems in operation. In addition, all five members of the band use Sennheiser ew 300 IEM G2 wireless monitoring systems with stereo mixes. Add the vocal mic, and there’s a lot of wireless information flying through the air at a Blake Shelton concert!
“Without exaggeration, I’ve used every other major wireless brand in the industry, and Sennheiser is the easiest, cleanest, and most reliable by a long shot,” remarked Stoffel. “Seriously, I spend less than ten minutes every morning scanning for clear frequencies and that’s it. I’m done. It doesn’t matter if we’re in New York City or how many wireless channels are being used by the other acts on the bill. Invariably, the show will go on without a hitch, flawlessly.”
“Pig” added with a touch of pride, “I remember we were out with another big act, I won’t name names, and they weren’t using Sennheiser. We were playing a crowded city, and although we had no problem getting frequencies, they were stuck. So stuck that the show couldn’t go on! They had to borrow our Sennheiser gear just to make the show happen!”
This fall, Shelton will find himself in front of Sennheiser microphones in a very different venue, far from his guitar and star-struck fans. Shelton will begin shooting his hunting and fishing trips with the help of audio engineer Rob Byus. The pair, along with many of Shelton’s friends, will use a Sennheiser ME 66 shotgun microphone and a Sennheiser ew 100 ENG G2 wireless lavalier with camera-ready receiver to record all of the banter, excitement, and natural serenity that come with the superstar’s favorite pastimes.
SENNHEISER Sennheiser is a world-leading manufacturer of microphones, headphones and wireless transmission systems. Established in 1945 in Wedemark, Germany, Sennheiser is now a global brand represented in 60 countries around the world with U.S. headquarters in Old Lyme, Connecticut. Sennheiser’s pioneering excellence in technology has rewarded the company with numerous awards and accolades including an Emmy, a Grammy, and the Scientific and Engineering Award of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
For more information, please visit www.sennheiserusa.com
PHOTO CAPTIONS (first photo) The Sennheiser SKM 935 G2 wireless, coupled with the EM 550 G2 receiver, is country heartthrob Blake Shelton’s mic for his popular tour and TV appearances promoting his crossover single “Home.” (second photo) Engineers out with the Blake Shelton tour, John Stoffel, monitor engineer (left) and Jeff “Pig” Parsons, FOH engineer (right).