UK indie stars Arctic Monkeys have spent much of 2011 touring their latest album Suck It and See with a package of Sennheiser microphones and in-ear monitors making its presence felt on the road.
The band’s FOH engineer Matthew Kettle is a long-term Sennheiser user. Working with the Arctic Monkeys since 2009, he has been happy to continue the relationship.
“I've been using Sennheiser microphones for as long as I can remember,” he said. “The band were already using the evolution series vocal mics when I started. I had been using them with numerous other bands, with great results, and so there was no question of us changing.”
Currently lead singer Alex Turner uses an e 935 with cardioid pattern, while the backing vocals of bass player Nick O’Malley and drummer Matt Helders come courtesy of an e 945 and 904 respectively.
“We use the e 945 for Nick to try and cut down on spill from the (very loud) amps on stage,” said Kettle. “The 904 is ideal for Matt because we can squeeze it into a tight space and keep it out of his way.”
Monitors for the band on the current tour comprise eight stereo mixes via G3 in-ears. “We've used Sennheiser IEMs ever since we started using wireless in ears, so it made sense to move to the G3s this time out,” commented monitor engineer Will Doyle. “They sound great and the easy setup function really is easy! I scan every day using a G3 pack and an old Icom scanner just for my own paranoid peace of mind, but 99.9% of the time I agree with the pack scan results. Setting the frequencies then only takes a few minutes - all with no scrolling through frequencies one by one or using intermodulation tables. Most importantly there are never any dropouts or interference.”
According to Doyle another advantage is that, regardless of where in the world the band is playing, Sennheiser systems are invariably available locally.
"When we fly to gigs to odd parts of the world, you can't always find the most up to date IEM systems,” he continued. “However, you can usually find a G2 system wherever you go. Whilst they aren’t quite as easy to use as the G3s, there's a certain amount of backwards compatibility in terms of gain structure and EQ, etc. This means I can take my desk file and just tweak it a bit, rather than having start from scratch, which I would have to if I was jumping between brands.”
Kettle is also keen to highlight the technical support that comes with Sennheiser. He concluded: “Sennheiser has always been great at supporting its products. If there's ever a problem, it's great to know that I can give Phil Cummings and the team a call and it will be resolved immediately. We've had no problems at all with the Monkeys’ mics, so we've been extremely happy. We've had a very busy schedule on this tour, flying all over the globe. The mics are getting well used and abused, and are all still going strong.”