P!NK SWINGS INTO ACTION WITH SENNHEISER DIGITAL 6000
P!NK’s 2018 Beautiful Trauma World Tour kicked off in the US this Spring, playing at 38 arenas to more than 700,000 fans. It continued to Australia and New Zealand in July, with a further 42 shows, including a record-breaking 18-night run at Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena. This is set to be her highest ever grossing tour, with over $100 million already taken in ticket sales. And no wonder, as her hallmark mixture of incredible staging and aerial acrobatics combines with perfect vocal reproduction – courtesy of a Sennheiser Digital 6000 system – and continues to wow her audiences.
Sennheiser has a long association with P!NK through her RF coordinator and monitor engineer for the band, Horst Hartmann. For her 2013 The Truth About Love Tour, he specified an integrated in-ear monitor and microphone system to help facilitate her technically and physically challenging show.
“As well as the challenge of the range of motion, we 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,” Hartmann stated at the time. “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.”
For the current tour, the microphone system has been updated with Sennheiser’s latest technology, including its Digital 6000 system, both handheld and bodypack, an improved custom mic/in-ear combo, and wireless monitoring via Sennheiser’s 2000 Series.
The Competence Centre Acoustics and Mechanics team from Sennheiser provided Hartmann with six new in-ear/headmic combos for the current tour. The design remained predominantly the same but now features an improved mic connector on the ear-piece and new, mechanically refined Fischer Amps custom ear moulds. Jochen Fischer of Fischer Amps was delighted about this second coop: “This is a fully hand-made design, and a very small series – to be able to offer a product like this in a joint project is just great.”
On the acoustics side, the Sennheiser team employed P!NK’s special IE 800 driver with its custom-modified frequency response and the mic boom of a Sennheiser HSP 4 headset. The meticulous design allows the headset to stay in place without the need for any additional fixings, whatever position P!NK finds herself in. Mechanical parts, such as the splitter, were 3D-printed, with connectors and cables manufactured especially. The splitter allows P!NK to remove the second ear-piece, a requirement specified by her, so that she can use the headmic/in-ear as a single-sided version.
“We have been using the in-ear/mic combo since 2013, this was a huge step forwards for P!NK’s stage shows,” added her monitor engineer Jon Lewis. “And the new system is even better. Allowing her to consistently keep the quality of the ear mix during her energetic acrobatic stage shows.”
Talking of the switch from Sennheiser’s analogue 2000 series to Digital 6000, Hartmann said, “I chose the Digital 6000 system simply because its digital and the signal can go straight into our consoles. Also, we have a lot of LED screens on the show which were causing issues with our RF system. Because Digital 6000 is intermodulation-free, it has been a big help in solving these issues for us. And the fact that we can use the same MD 9235 capsule as we used before is a huge advantage. The whole system is easy to use, reliable, sounds good and it's working well. We had a few little problems with the belt pack because the aerial was not in the right position for her costume and we can’t quite have it in the optimum position, so now we have a four-antenna system picking her signal up and that is working well – she’s not only on the main stage, but also on a B stage and in the air, so we need to have reception all over the arena.”
“I use a Digital 9000 system for Adele, so I know from that experience that there was an improvement in sound quality,” added front-of-house engineer Dave Bracey. “There’s no difference in sound quality between the 9000 and 6000 Series, so I didn’t hesitate to use it for P!NK as well.
“She spends the bulk of the show out in front of the PA, sometimes a long way out in front. Being in front of the PA is always a challenge, but because of the way shows are designed these days it has become the norm, you know. Luckily, she’s a good vocalist and it’s a good microphone, so it works.”
Wired Sennheiser mics are also heavily in use during the tour. The drumkit is miked with evolution e 901, e 902, e 904 and e 905 instrument microphones, the Leslie is picked up with three MK 4. For backing and guest vocals, additional SKM 6000 handheld transmitters and evolution e 935 microphones are used, while the atmosphere is captured by MKH 8050 super-cardioids, MKH 8060 short gun and MKH 8070 long gun microphones.
Pierre Morant, Artist Relations, Sennheiser, commented, “Sennheiser is always keen to develop long-term relationships. Collaborating with experienced engineers who work with world-class artists such as P!NK to develop custom solutions is extremely important to us. Working closely with Horst Hartmann to make his fantastic idea a reality brought about innovation. To be able to continue this process over a number of years has been invaluable. We love to push technical boundaries, Horst knows that we look forward to the next challenge...”
P!NK’s Beautiful Trauma World Tour continues in Australia and New Zealand until mid-September and then returns to the US in 2019.