When Capital FM's annual Jingle Bell Ball took over London's O2 Arena last month for two shows, the event's sound equipment supplier, Adlib Audio, turned to Sennheiser to help deal with the massive venue.
Sennheiser UK’s Mark Saunders and Tim Sherratt were on site to provide additional equipment and any required assistance to Adlib’s Dave Kay and Marc Peers, as well as Andy 'Baggy' Robinson, who was handling the audio side of things for production company Production North.
“The biggest challenges for us were the size of the arena that we had to cover, plus the decreasing amount of RF spectrum that is available for large live events,” says Dave. “More and more artists want to move an increasing number of sources to wireless. That, combined with the ever-growing need for wireless comms, makes for a very crowded spectrum. So trying to accommodate all the requirements of a multi-act show, plus presenters, which took place over three stages was quite demanding.”
Adlib's Dave Kay (left) with Sennheiser UK's Mark Saunders
Artists performing at the shows included Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Dizzee Rascal, Tinie Tempah and Ellie Goulding, with most of the performers and all crew comms using Sennheiser 2000 series in-ear monitors. 2000 series handheld microphone systems were used by Dizzee Rascal, Tinie Tempah, Ellie Goulding, Rizzle Kicks and Rudimental; while Katy Perry, Jessie J, Union J and Elyar Fox (the latter a special guest on both nights) used SKM 5200 handhelds with EM 3732 receivers.
The show was also an opportunity for the Adlib team to try Sennheiser’s Digital 9000 Series system for the first time - used for the event’s presenters - as well as a new combiner for receiving antennas, which was given a rigorous test during the show’s setup and rehearsals.
“We always try and plot the Jingle Bell Ball based on an outdoor venue because we need to cover such a large area,” says Dave. “As well as the arena and all three stages, we had to cover under the stages because a lot of the acts start underneath and come up on lifts. This year one also started at the back of the arena. In addition, we had radio mics for line checks and our shout system, which had to cover the full backstage and load-in areas.”
He continues, “The reliability of all the Sennheiser equipment was really important, as was its ability to maintain so many crosstalk-free signals in the crowded frequencies available. We were also very impressed with the 9000 Series on the presenters.”
Photo: Andy Brown of Lawson by Richard Johnson (courtesy CapitalFM.com)