P!NK’s The Truth About Love arena tour is wowing audiences around the world with its incredible mixture of chart-topping tunes, aerial acrobatics, and sheer no-holds-barred entertainment – all powered by audio equipment from Sennheiser. The 140-date 2013 tour sees P!NK perform like never before, flying above the audience, dancing between two stages and diving into water
As Monitor assistant and sound engineer Ben Byford explained, the production relied heavily on solutions from Sennheiser, including custom prototypes developed specially for the tour: “The whole show is essentially all Sennheiser: every microphone, every in-ear system, every radio system – it’s all Sennheiser. The in-ears we use are Sennheiser 2000 series IEM systems. P!NK uses an SKM 2000 microphone, but with an MD 9235 head. The in-ear piece that she uses is a special prototype that we’re helping to test – a custom-made in-ear with an integrated microphone.”
That custom solution was developed by virtuoso monitor engineer, Horst Hartmann, who worked closely with Sennheiser. He explained that developing a special integrated monitor and microphone was the only way to cope with the highly physical nature of the performance, the aerial stunts and the lifts within the dance routines: “As well as the challenge of the range of motion, we also needed to provide P!NK with a headset that could also work in front of the PA because she is often flying above the audience and through the whole room. Additionally, the microphone had to sound as good as a hand-held one and had to be extremely resistant to feedback, like a hand-held would be.”
A headset with a neckband was ruled out because the set-up time would inhibit costume changes. They also needed a precise fit, as use of a cardioid mic meant that it had to stay in position right at the corner of P!NK’s mouth in order to receive the highest possible intensity of sound. On past tours, the team had used an earset mic taped in position on P!NK’s face but this time the audio team wanted to take things still further: “We came up with the idea of an in-ear with an integrated microphone,” said Horst Hartmann. “I’d seen referees, pilots, and firefighters wearing this but that’s about communication – walkie-talkie rather than the hi-fi quality we demanded. The capsule was already there: that of the HSP 4, an incredible microphone. Working with Sennheiser, we then developed the “hardware” around this capsule.”
Sennheiser developed a microphone that could be attached to the in-ear mould. With the in-ear fixed and securely in position, the attached microphone would stay in place with no adjustments. That was the theory, and in practice the solution proved a match for the demanding performance. Monitor engineer Jon Lewis explains: “Being integrated means that it’s very much set at the right position because it’s custom-made to the curve of her face, so there’s no movement. There’s nothing to tighten or loosen. So once it’s clicked into the in-ear piece, that’s it! This was perfect as any movement would have made things impossible, given the circus-style aspects of the show.”
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