Gentleman with Sennheiser SKM 6000 handheld transmitter and MM 435 microphone head

September saw Gentleman head the Strandkorb Open Air series of concerts at Berlin’s Hoppegarten. The reggae artist from Cologne and his band entertained around 2,000 fans seated in arounf 1,000 double beach chairs set out at the racecourse.

Wired and wireless microphones and IEM solutions from Sennheiser are regular factors at concerts by Gentleman and his band. For his performances, Gentleman (Tilmann Otto) uses an SKM 6000 handheld transmitter fitted with an MM 435 head.

The dynamic cardioid capsule is seen as the successor to the renowned Sennheiser MD 9235 head, which has proven itself in countless live and broadcast productions around the world.

At the Hoppegarten concert, a 19-inch rack was located directly next to the monitoring console at the side of the stage, contining two EM 6000 receivers, an L 6000 charging station and three LM 6060 modules, as well as a drawer with five SKM 6000 handheld transmitters and various capsules.

FOH mixer Philipp Sachsenheimer (left) and monitor mixer Muk‘We’ve been using the digital Sennheiser systems since the beginning of the 2021 summer season,’ says Nepomuk ‘Muk’ Tuschy, who has spent many years as monitor mixer for Gentleman. ‘It makes absolute sense for a touring band to take their own backline and all the mics along with them, and we intend to buy more Sennheiser microphones in the future so that we can completely mike the drum kit using suitable models from this manufacturer. At the moment, we are using a Sennheiser e 901 boundary microphone for the bass drum and two e 604 microphones from the local equipment rental company for the toms.’

At the Beach Chair Open Air concert, SKM 6000 handheld transmitters were used by Gentleman, background vocalist Patricia ‘Treesha’ Moore and guest rapper Ezhel. Another SKM 6000 was placed within easy reach at the entrance to the stage for use as a spare. The transmitters were operated with different capsules – MM 435 microphone heads were provided for Gentleman and Ezhel, while Treesha’s handheld transmitter was fitted with an MMD 945.

‘At the moment, we’re trying out which microphone heads fit best to which voice,’ Tuschy explains. ‘For the backing vocals, we started with the MMD 935, but we’ve changed over to the MMD 945 with a super-cardioid pick-up pattern, because we used to find that the loud drum cymbals were finding their way into the microphones. According to our very personal taste, the MM 435 didn’t fit quite so well to Treesha’s voice. For Tilmann, on the other hand, this capsule makes sense because it offers very fine resolution of the high frequencies in particular, but has no tendency at all to generate feedback. Tilmann likes to have numerous wedges at the front edge of the stage, even though he also has in-ear monitoring, so I can turn these up extremely loud without the risk of causing feedback or having a negative effect on the microphone sound – that’s really awesome.’

‘For the background vocals, the MM 435 even sounded a little too differentiated for our taste,’ adds FOH mixer Philipp Sachsenheimer, who has accompanied Gentleman for more than 20 years. ‘The capsule makes the backing vocals sound very precise and gives them a lot of presence. But backing vocals generally need to be a little more subdued and, as their name suggests, they should form the background for the lead vocals. You could say that the MM 435 is just too good for this job.’

Tuschy didn’t have the opportunity to gain any hands-on experience with the Sennheiser Digital 6000 systems before their premiere at the Gentleman concerts: ‘I came to a show in Wiesbaden in July 2021 and it was there that I first took the handheld transmitters and their capsules out of their original packaging,’ the monitor mixer said. ‘To be honest, I was a bit nervous, but the initial setup of the systems worked surprisingly well once I had learned how to operate the three buttons on the handheld transmitter.’

In the meantime, setting up the systems before each show has become routine: ‘As there are not that many events taking place at the moment due to the pandemic, I get the impression that there is generally less wireless interference at the venues,’ Tuschy says. ‘As a rule, when setting up the system, my first step is to use the Easy Setup Sync function on our Sennheiser SR 2050 IEM stereo transmitter. Then I add the frequencies for the Digital 6000 channels. I only occasionally use the Sennheiser WSM software for setting the frequencies, but I always have it running during concerts so that I can keep an eye on the RF and AF levels and the battery status.

Sennheiser wireless technology at the monitoring console‘The Scan & Auto Setup feature on the Digital 6000 systems is really easy to use and delivers perfect results. At first, the big red glowing triangle on the EM 6000 took some getting used to visually – but it means that you can see at a glance if there is no link between the transmitter and receiver.’

Gentleman has good microphone discipline and always takes care not to point the capsule towards the wedges when interacting with the fans, and largely avoids enclosing the microphone head with his hands – a typical mannerism of rap artists.

‘I’ve never noticed any noise from the Digital 6000 systems,’ Tuschy says. ‘Perhaps a very low noise might be perceivable under laboratory conditions, but all other parts of the audio signal chain definitely cause more noise than our new digital wireless channels.’

‘As far as its transmission reliability is concerned, there have been no problems at all with the 6000 wireless systems so far, and the latency that is unavoidable with digital wireless systems is completely unnoticeable,’ says Sachsenheimer. ‘We use two active AD 3700 broadband directional antennas that reliably cover Tilmann’s area of action, even when he spends time moving among the audience and sometimes even goes to the FOH area far away from the stage.’

Tuschy is also impressed by the battery packs of the Sennheiser Digital 6000 systems: ‘The BA 60 rechargeable battery packs are fantastic; they last for about five-and-a-half hours and I always leave the transmitter switched on for the whole time when I’ve finished setting up. Just before the show starts, I put in fresh battery packs and then I don’t have to worry about them for the rest of the concert. Not only that: the BA 60 has incredibly short recharging time, and you can rely on the hours/minutes display for the remaining battery life. Battery changes also work perfectly, and I’m pleased to say that the battery compartment doesn’t require a fiddly AA adapter. For me, the SKM 6000 handheld transmitters have the best battery handling of all the wireless systems I’ve ever tried.’

Proven analogue wireless technology continues to be the solution of choice for wireless in-ear monitoring – Gentleman and his musicians rely on latency-free wireless systems from the Sennheiser 2000 series at their concerts. At Berlin’s Hoppegarten, six SR 2050 IEM stereo transmitters were installed in a rack next to the monitor console, operated with two eight-channel AC 3200-II antenna combiners. These were connected to two A 5000-CP circularly polarised antennas. At Gentleman concerts, up to 12 wireless in-ear channels are operated in parallel. On tour, the production team takes 14 EK 2000 IEM beltpack receivers (including spare beltpacks) with them.

The beach chair event concept was introduced under pandemic constraints, enabling fans to attend concerts safely in-line social distancing and hygiene regulations. Following their successful debut in 2020, Beach Chair Open Air events were held in 15 German cities this year.

For the audience it’s like watching a concert with a holiday feeling. And to guarantee social distancing in these difficult times, the audience is divided up into manageable sections named after Germany’s North Sea and Baltic Sea islands, separated by red and white plastic chains.

‘I think it’s great that Gentleman’s sound engineers are always thinking about how they can further improve the sound quality for their artists even while they are on tour with them, for example by experimenting with different microphones heads, and Sennheiser’s wide product range offers heads for absolutely every type of voice and stage environment,’ says Sennheiser Relations Manager Thomas Holz, after the Berlin show. ‘The performance whets our appetite for the upcoming Blaue Stunde tour, which will see concerts in Germany, Austria and Switzerland from November 2021, provided that the pandemic situation allows them to go ahead.’

More: www.sennheiser.com

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