Nashville, TN â€“ May 25, 2011: Summer isn’t even here yet, but it has already been a banner year for country artist Blake Shelton, whose career is on a rocket-like trajectory. Already, he has performed on David Letterman, been chosen as a coach for the NBC hit show “The Voice” and has achieved three number 1 singles in the last year. With a new album due this summer and an ongoing tour schedule, Shelton continues to work hard both on and off the stage. While on the road, Shelton’s front of house engineer and production manager, Jeff “Pig” Parsons, a veteran soundman of 30 years, demands the best possible sound for both Shelton and fans.
Parsons and his crew rely heavily on wired and wireless Sennheiser microphones for their outstanding sound quality and durability. As Shelton’s touring operation has grown, the
logistics have become more complex, but as Jeff Parsons points out below, it is easier than ever to get great sound.
When did you begin working with Blake Shelton?
I’ve been with him since 2002. I started off doing his monitors and front of house and was also his production manager. Around 2004, I had a great monitor engineer by the name of Tim Moore who told me about Sennheiser and said I really need to try their stuff. We got a package together for Blake and have been with Sennheiser ever since; it has been great!
What is the scale of your touring operation?
Our tours are international and are very extensive. When I first started with Blake, he was doing about 200 shows per year, mostly in smaller venues. They would do 26 shows per month and would work all the time. Now we are doing 100 shows per year and the sound quality has gotten much better — largely thanks to Sennheiser. We use Sennheiser all over the stage.
Can you tell me more about your equipment infrastructure?
All our mics and wireless transmitters are Sennheiser — I don’t have a competitive brand anywhere else on stage. We use them for both vocals and instruments. We also rely on Sennheiser’s RF for our wireless personal monitors. For microphones, I’ve got Blake singing through a Sennheiser SKM 2000 transmitter fitted with a 935 microphone capsule. We’ve got four SKM 2000s that he can use throughout the show; he’s got two downstage on each thrust, one up in the center, and then he’s got a spare. The mics are such good quality that you can go from one to the other and hardly hear any sonic difference between the microphones. If you can hear a difference between them, it’s my fault. Sonically, there is a great little spike on these mics at about 4k that just brings the life in Blake’s vocal out a little bit. Using these mics, I also experience very good gain before feedback, which of course makes my life easier.
What else do you use Sennheiser microphones on besides the vocals?
I use Sennheiser on everything. On drums, I have a 901 inside the kick drum. Outside the kick drum and on the two floor toms, I have e 602 IIs and I have e 604s on the toms. People often compliment my drum mixes and I am convinced that Sennheiser makes the best drum mics for live sound. What a big sound I get out of those 602s! For bass guitar, I have an e 902 on the cabinet, and we also run direct. For electric guitars, I use a combination of the e 609s and the MD 421s. One thing I will say about all of these mics — you don’t have to fuss with EQ to correct their response.
We also use three e 935 wired microphones for our background vocalists, which also sound great. When Blake does a live acoustic show, I will bring one of those 935s with me, plug it in, and let him go!
How else has Sennheiser supported you on the road?
I’ve been with Sennheiser as long as I’ve been with Blake. They have a great artist relations program and are very responsive. If I ever need anything, all I have to do is call Sennheiser’s support team. As far as the equipment is concerned, our microphones get abused and dropped on the road, and the Sennheisers always hold up. I think it has something to do with the German quality — I consider Sennheiser to be the pinnacle of microphones.