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NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – OCTOBER 2008: As one country music’s fastest rising stars, Jake Owen’s debut album has already earned him three consecutive hit singles, a performance at the 2008 CRS New Faces Show, and an Academy of Country Music nomination for “Top New Male Vocalist.” All this, and Owen only learned to play the guitar and write songs a few short years ago! He was originally on course to become a professional golfer before a career-ending injury shelved that dream. Although the prophets… er, critics have foretold of even grander success for Owen – who is preparing to release his sophomore album on RCA Records – the native Floridian has already scored the opening slot in tours headlined by heavyweights Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, Brooks & Dunn, Alan Jackson, Little Big Town, and Sugarland.

Owen, his band, and his crew have earned a reputation for consummate professionals, and being easy to work with. Production manager Richard Korby, FOH engineer Greg Huffman, and monitor engineer Rick Manwiller utilize an “opening act” rig from Morris Leasing that sets up efficiently and reliably night after night in venue after venue. A large collection of wired and wireless Sennheiser microphones, as well as Sennheiser wireless personal monitors for every member of the band, share much of the credit for delivering such consistently high-quality sound with a minimum of fuss. “Of course all that would be pretty inconsequential if Jake didn’t absolutely kill it night after night… which he does!” laughed Korby.

Owen sings on a Sennheiser SKM 935 G2 microphone paired with a Sennheiser EM 550 G2 receiver. Korby attributed a good deal of his crew’s reliability to the remarkable off-axis rejection of the 935 capsule. “The 935 keeps most of the room out of the Jake’s vocals,” he says, “and it also reduces bleed from his personal monitors to near-nothing. With so little in his vocal signal but vocals, our mix is much more consistent and easier to pull up from venue to venue. Of course, the on-axis pickup of Jake’s vocals is smooth and musical.” In addition, Korby reported that the mic’s RF is “clean as a pin” every night.

The superior off-axis rejection of four Sennheiser e 609 Silver guitar mics that Huffman places about an inch off the grill from each amp on stage also contributes to reliability by minimizing the variable effect of different rooms. He can basically put the mics up and knows he’ll have the same response that he had the night before.

“We get a lot of compliments on our drum sounds, especially the bass drum,” said Korby. “We use a Sennheiser e 609 II for the bass drum. It has a nice round low-end that moves a lot of air without getting up into the low mids.” Sennheiser e 604s clip to the snare and all the toms. The e 604s provide invariant close mic’ing from night to night and contribute to the reliability that has been so critical for their success. “We had to pay a little more attention to placement of the e 604s on the larger toms,” said Korby, “but once we had them, we were set!”

Every member of the band uses Sennheiser ew 300 IEM G2 wireless personal monitors. Manweller uses a pair of Sennheiser ME 67 with K6 powering module shotgun microphones placed at FOH and directed toward the stage to inject audience response and room into the monitor mixes. That livens things up and allows for the all-important connection between the musicians and the fans.

“Everyone in the band noticed a vast improvement in their monitor mixes when we went to Sennheiser,” said Korby. “The gain before distortion is huge so that everyone can get up to a comfortable level, and the overall fidelity is fantastic: the frequency response is wider, the stereo field is more defined, and the overall signal is cleaner. It was not a subtle difference!”

With all the stereo personal monitors, a wireless vocal mic, and a wireless Sennheiser ew 372 G2 instrument setup for Owen’s guitar, one might predict a few “frequency-associated” headaches in “dirtier” RF cities like Chicago, DC and New York. But Korby insists they’ve been able to quickly overcome any issues. Setup takes a few minutes longer in the larger cities, as banks of open frequencies are fewer, but they always succeed in finding enough channels and the Sennheiser signal maintains its integrity throughout the performance.

Korby summarized, “On the days when we’re scheduled as an opening act, and we’re given very little time, and no real soundcheck, we’ve been very successful, in part because our Sennheiser mics are so dependable. We can use them under a huge range of circumstances and rely on their consistent, high-quality output.”

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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