Winnipeg â€“ August 2, 2011 â€“ Christian artist, singer/songwriter Steve Bell is on a roll. With 16 solo albums under his belt since he launched his solo career in 1989, Bell is currently touring for his latest album, Kindness, but in the last few years he has also made a name for himself playing with symphony orchestras across Canada. To get the kind of melodious sound Bell is known for from his albums, he and his crew rely almost exclusively on Neumann microphones during their performances, whether Bell is performing solo, with his band or with one of a dozen symphony orchestras.
Considered a â€œhappy accidentâ€? by Bell, the symphony orchestra tour began more than two years ago where he lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, when he was invited to perform with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. Since that successful performance, Bell has
performed 25 symphony concerts with 12 different orchestras in Canada and the United States. All the while, he has relied on Neumann 105s to provide the clear and transparent sound quality he depends on.
Dave Zeglinski, Bellâ€™s manager and sound engineer of Signpost Music, said heâ€™s been using Neumann microphones since he started his own studio in the early 1980s, and heâ€™s yet to hear a vocalist that didnâ€™t mesh well with Neumann vocal microphones. Primarily a studio engineer, Zeglinskiâ€™s goal with live performances is to mirror the sound quality he gets in the studio.
On the road, Zeglinski uses a selection of Neumann microphones, along with a complementary assortment of microphones from Sennheiser. A grand piano is often featured during performances. For that, Zeglinski relies on either the TLM 102 or the TLM 170. For overheads on the drums, he relies on a TLM 102 and uses Sennheiser MD 421 IIs on the toms. Finally, Bellâ€™s KMS 105 on vocals is accompanied by his Neumann TLM 102 on his guitar.
â€œThe last tour was all Neumann and Sennheiser,â€? Zeglinski exclaims. He prefers the KMS 105 on vocals — a microphone designed specifically to faithfully reproduce vocals in live scenarios â€“ and in this case many times in the presence of an entire symphony orchestra.
Zeglinski first got a sound check on the KMS 105 when Bell was recorded by CBC Radio during the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra run, and he was immediately impressed with the frequency response and sound character â€“ which perfectly suited Bellâ€™s vocals as well as the frequent story telling that occurs during his shows.
â€œThe cool thing about it is ever since he started using it, all of his monitor problems went away,â€? Zeglinski said. â€œThis has translated to more confidence during his performances and is reassured that the audience is hearing the same thing he is. â€œI havenâ€™t ever used the 105 on someone that didnâ€™t sound great on it,â€? Zeglinksi added.
As an engineer with a long history of working in the studio, Neumann microphones make Zeglinskiâ€™s job easier in the field since their predictably even response also means less tweaking and equalizing: â€œOur show is kind of a low to medium volume high fidelity show, so Iâ€™m not looking for screaming volume out of the monitors. My background is in the recording studio, so I wanted it to sound like the studio monitors would, and now that we are using Neumann, itâ€™s really hard to even think about going back to other stuff,â€? Zeglinski said.