Even though Rzeznik is the band's sole guitarist, a rhythm guitarist joins the tour so that Rzeznik can run around, playing guitar only when doing so adds to the impact of the performance. That said, he simply has to have a wireless mic. “When I started with the band five years ago, Kristy Jo Winkler, Sennheiser's relations manager for the Americas, sent us every capsule that is made for the SKM 5200 wireless transmitter,” said Hager. “The KK 104 S brought out the best qualities in Johnny's voice.” Windel added, “His voice has a higher register and the clear upper mids from the KK 104 are perfect for it. With a different mic, we could try to dial that register in with EQ, but it always ends up sounding forced.” Bound to his bass, Takac sings into Sennheiser's famous MD 431 II, which features an integrated pop filter and exceptional off-axis rejection.
After much experimentation, the drum sound Hager has decided on is somewhat unique for live applications. “I've tried tons of drum overheads, and the Neumann TLM 103 seems to deliver the best stereo image of the kit,” he said. “Instead of just a wash of cymbals, the TLM 103s also convey the drums themselves with authority.” For spot mics, he again uses Neumann TLM 103 for toms, Neumann KM 184s for hi-hat and ride cymbal and a Sennheiser e 901 for kick. “We've done plenty of one-offs where we didn't have our own mics,” he said. “The drums invariably sound less clear and less powerful.”
Windel manages eight channels of Sennheiser ew 300 IEM G3 wireless personal monitors with twelve packs. “I really love the improvement in the noise floor on the new G3 Series monitors,” commented Windel. “When I walk the floor before a show, I have to put the units on ten with both ears just to be sure I'm monitoring signal. The sound is great, which means I no longer have any excuse for a bad mix!”
After years on another system, the transition to Sennheiser ew 572 G3 wireless instrument systems was anticipated with some trepidation by the band's guitar techs. “The previous systems were very limited in terms of frequency selection, which was a problem given how many guitar channels were required and how many other channels are used for monitors and vocal mics – not to mention the wireless channels of the other bands we're playing with.” But that trepidation turned to joy when the techs started using the Sennheiser Wireless Systems Manager software, which vastly simplifies the task of coordinating so many wireless channels. The wireless sound itself is second to none.
In addition to the gear, Hager and Windel enjoy working with the Sennheiser Global Relations Team. “Kristy Jo checks in every so often just to make sure everything is running smoothly,” said Windel. “It always is, but it's nice to know she's thinking about us! Before the start of a tour, we always send our wireless equipment in to ensure everything is aligned properly. It always comes back with plenty of time to spare.” Hager added, “The European support from Mark Saunders, artist relations manager for the UK, is also excellent. We've played a number of one-off festivals, and Mark is always on hand with a ton of Sennheiser and Neumann gear so that we won't have to do without!”