OLD LYME, CONNECTICUT – OCTOBER 2008: Janet Jackson’s first major tour in seven years is a theatrical extravaganza packed with pyrotechnics, intricate choreography and loud dance music. To help the R&B/pop singer shine through a mix that wouldn’t be out of place at a rock ‘n roll show, front-of-house engineer Jon Lemon and monitor engineer Blake Suib selected Sennheiser’s SKM 5200 wireless handheld transmitter outfitted with a Neumann KK 105 S capsule.
Jackson is using both a headset and a handheld mic on the Rock Witchu Tour, says Lemon, who arranged for an audition of an array of potential microphones for the singer. “Blake and I were keen on the Sennheiser/Neumann package,” he reports. “She preferred it, and we preferred it to everything that was out there. I knew she wanted a full-bodied tone. So, for the sections of the show where she uses a handheld, we went with the KK 105 S capsule on the SKM 5200. The mic then was modified – the show designer bejeweled the whole microphone with some special crystals.”
As for monitors, he continues, “Of course she uses Sennheiser evolution wireless ew 300 IEM G2 personal wireless monitors, with Future Sonics ear buds.” The two-and-a-half-hour show, featuring over 45 songs, includes numerous costume changes, making Sennheiser’s ultra-compact miniature body-packs an essential element of the show. “They’re sewn into pockets everywhere as she has so many costume changes,” says Lemon.
“The performing musicians are positioned off-stage in the massive theatrical production,” according to Lemon. “Lil John, our drummer, is loaded up with Sennheiser and Neumann mics. They’re my preferred choice of drum mics. I tend to use Sennheiser and Neumann mics with most bands that I work for, whether it’s using Sennheiser e 604s on drums and Neumann TLM 193 and TLM 103s on overheads and guitars, or Neumann KM 184s on ride and hi-hat cymbals.”
Lemon, well known for working at FOH with rock acts such as Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, Depeche Mode, Oasis, and Beck, recalls that he got a call back in July to mix Jackson’s 2008 Rock Witchu Tour. “She’d heard stuff that I’d done and decided I was the guy!” he says. “She likes loud music in general, and Janet impressed upon me that she wanted it loud, which surprised me.” But, says Lemon, who is equally at home mixing mainstream pop acts such as Pet Shop Boys, Bryan Ferry, Seal, and Italian legend Eros Ramazzotti, “I keep bumping into pop artists now who say they don’t want this sweet pop sound, they want their live shows to be edgy.”
The Rock Witchu Tour began in Canada in September and continues around the United States through November 1st, where it ends at New York’s Madison Square Garden. The tour is promoting hits from her “20 Y.O.” released in 2006, and her 2008 album, “Discipline.” The latest release is the sixth chart-topper for the singer, surpassing her brother, Michael, who has had five number one studio albums, and placing her equal with Madonna and behind only Barbra Streisand for female artists with the most number one albums.
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.
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