Norah Jones rocks out through Neumann and Sennheiser Microphones

(ShackMan | Posted 2010-02-02)

Norah Jones rocks out through Neumann and Sennheiser Microphones

OLD LYME, Conn. January 26, 2010 Nine-time Grammy winner and superlative vocalist and songwriter Norah Jones is currently on a promo tour in support of her fourth studio album, The Fall, with dates at the David Letterman Show and Jimmy Kimmel Live!, among many others.

The Fall is a rock 'n' roll departure from Jones earlier, more jazz-inspired work, and gets its organic, gritty sound from collaborators, most notably producer Jacquire King who has also produced Tom Waits, Kings of Leon, and Modest Mouse, so the edgy sound on the album should probably be expected. But Jones' ethereal voice has not changed, and it is still easy to get wondrously lost in the space between each spellbinding breath. To convey that indescribable quality, FOH engineer Brett Dicus continues to rely on a Neumann KMS 104 cardioid or 105 super cardioid microphone, with a backline of Sennheiser Evolution wired microphones and wireless personal monitors for her band.

Brett Dicus uses the microphones to deliver a sound that is as close to studio quality as possible. With Jones' natural airy and sibilant voice, he needs the microphone to have the most life-like and natural high-end possible. "Bother microphones deliver the signature Neumann studio sound with the robust handling required for a live performance" Dicus said of the KMS 104 and 105. "Above all else, the most critical sound reinforcement tool that we bring with us to every date is Norah's Neumann vocal microphone."

Norah has been using a Neumann microphone or capsule with Sennheiser Wireless RF transmitters for almost her entire touring career, a career that spans four albums and most of the globe. Dicus returned to KS 105's from a brief stint using Shure SM 58's "because that was all that was available for a little while." Norah used KMS 105's all the way back on her "Come Away with Me" tour for their high-gain and clean sound to amplify Jones' quiet vocals. Now they're making use of that gain with Jones' new, grittier sound. Gritty, here, is a loose term, as the record itself sounds perfectly clean, but there's that hint of dirt that makes me feel like I'm listening to an old 45 with a just slightly overdriven old Neve board. It's really a great new sound with the same equipment that shows some creativity on her team's part.

As for the band, Dicus has been using Sennheiser e 935 wired vocal microphones to provide pick-up for all of the backing vocals, and Sennheiser's classic MD 421 delivers a robust electric bass, to say the least. Dicus drum sound relies on a collection of Sennheiser evolution 900 Series microphones. He explained, "A Norah Jones show requires consistent tone quality. Transparency is very important because we cannot hide behind loud guitars or screaming fans. Every nuance of each musician's performance is equally important to both the music and the sound reinforcement."

Several of Jones musicians use Sennheiser wireless personal monitors for hassle-free performance. Monitor engineer Russ Wilson remarked, "Sennheiser belt-packs are ideal for performance because of their size and weight. Their small form factor and light weight allow easy integration into any wardrobe choices, plus Sennheiser wireless monitoring has always been ideal for Norah and her band, both in terms of tone and reliability. And Sennheisers support staff have been extremely helpful around the world in maintaining consistent RF performance."

Jones and her band will kick off a 36-city tour in early March this year. Her band on the album includes drummers Joey Waronker (Beck, R.E.M.) and James Gadson (Bill Withers), keyboardist James Poyser (Erykah Badu, Al Green), and guitarists Marc Ribot (Tom Waits, Elvis Costello), Smokey Hormel (Johnny Cash, Joe Strummer)", Lyle Workman, (Bourgois Tagg, film composer for Superbad), and Peter Atanasoff (Rickie Lee Jones, Tito and Tarantula). No word as to who will make up the touring band, and of interest to fans might be that there is no bass player listed on the record.

Certainly, the line-up for the record is nothing to shake a stick at. You can pick up a copy of her fourth album, The Fall, wherever CDs are sold and listen for the Neumann and Sennheiser edge live this summer. Said Brett Dicus, "With a typically busy tour day and many issues competing for our attention, we rely heavily on the performance of our tools. Neumann and Sennheiser consistently deliver."

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