With a unique mixture of progressive rock, ambient, electronica, trip hop and other styles of ‘musical collective’, Archive has found an enthusiastic audience across Europe. The band’s recent run of shows on the continent – some of which included a full orchestra – has been a huge success, with Sennheiser and Neumann analogue and digital microphones ensuring that every nuance of the band’s complex sound comes across clearly.
Front-of-house engineer Spike Jones’s use of Sennheiser mics goes back to the mid-1980s, when he first came across them at London’s Nomis rehearsal studios. “Since the early 1990s I have used Sennheiser on tour, though it’s not always possible when you are using house systems and venues do not supply them,” he says. For some time, this was the situation with Archive. “We were using any mics that the venues could supply and it was never satisfactory,” he continues. “I know what the band’s instruments and vocals should sound like, but there was always uncertainty whether the mics we found at the venues would reproduce them to a good enough standard.”
As Archive’s popularity grew and audience sizes increased, Spike knew that he had to resolve the problem quickly. He approached Sennheiser directly, with the aim of getting a full set of the mics of his choice. The company was happy to help and, ever since, Spike has had complete confidence that what goes into the microphones is what will come out. “Now we have consistency of the sound from source,” he says. “You cannot underestimate the importance of that to a sound engineer!”
For some time Spike has used e 901s, e 902s, e 905s, e 914s and e 604s on the drum kit, an e 902 on the bass guitar, e 606s and e 906s on guitars and an e 965, e 935 and e 945 on the band’s vocals. The e 901 gives the kick drum great attack and depth, while the e 905 is sharp and very tough for its size, which makes it ideal for close snare miking.
“I use e 604s on toms because they are small, they don’t get in the way and can handle the low-end frequencies. The e 606 and e 906 are perfect for guitar and I think the e 935 is the best-sounding rock vocal microphone available. It’s ideal for Dave Pen’s vocals. Pollard Berrier usually uses an e 965, because its softer character allows me to get his vocals clearly over the loud band behind him.”
Recently, Spike has begun to also use Neumann KMD series digital microphones. “I have started using the KM 183 D and KM 185 D on drums, the KM 184 D and KM 185 D on guitars and bass, and the KMS 104 D on vocals,” he says. “The microphone software on the Innovason desk I’m using adds a new dimension to live sound engineering. The fact that you can change parameters of the digital microphone on the desk now means that you can change the sound to suit your needs. Previously, the only other option was to change the equalization.”
Of course it is essential that the Sennheiser and Neumann digital microphones are used with a high-quality PA system and Spike is happy with his choice of a d&b J-Series system. “As long as you follow the guidelines and run the system digitally from source to speakers, you will experience a new level in sound quality,” he says. “But you have to realise that they are very sensitive and live sounding mics, so positioning them is very important – and if they’re positioned correctly, they sound fantastic.”
In monitor world, Kevin Charnley agrees that there are definite advantages to using digital microphones. “I’ve always enjoyed the opportunity to use the KM 84, KM 184 and now the digital version,” he says. “These bring extended frequency response with considerably less noise (no noise to my ear!). Neumann’s beautifully realistic, natural sound is a total tonal advantage to in-ear monitor mixes and front-of-house applications.”
Kevin is using Sennheiser ew 300 G2 wireless monitor systems for the entire band. “I’ve used them for years with many other acts and they have always performed perfectly,” he says. “As with all Sennheiser products they are totally reliable on the road.”
“Recently I was using the new G3 system with another client and found it to be even better, with some interesting new features – the ‘engineer mode’ on the belt packs being particularly useful. Archive also uses two ew 500 G3 wireless microphones which have performed impeccably since they were introduced.” Even with such reliability, touring engineers need the reassurance that there is a proactive company behind them and Sennheiser ensures that support is always at hand.
“When in Europe with Archive, Sennheiser’s support has been faultless and EMEA Global Relations Manager Pierre Morant is always a pleasure to do business with. A very helpful company indeed!” says Kevin.