Perry and both of her backing singers use Sennheiser SKM 5200 wireless handheld transmitters with MD 5235 dynamic capsules, a capsule that is based on Sennheiser's legendary e 935 vocal mic. “In anticipation of the new album we tried loads of different live vocal mics,” said Rupsch. “The MD 5235 stood out. It has a flat, natural response with nice hint of coloration. With it, Katy's voice is clear and present with a balanced high end that never comes across as too sharp or crisp. Because the backing singers are using the same capsule, we get an excellent vocal blend in our personal monitors and in the house. And that's exactly what Katy, Pete, and I need.”
Rupsch delivers those vocals, along with everything else in the mix, to all eight musicians on stage and two techs using Sennheiser ew 300 IEM G3 wireless personal monitors. “Everyone is in love with the sound of the new G3s,” he said. “They're clean, responsive and dynamic. There are no sonic improprieties to work around, and as a result, this is the most straightforward wireless personal monitor mixing I've ever done.”
Although he has worked FOH for bands like All American Rejects, My Chemical Romance, and 3OH!3, Rupsch is equally comfortable behind the monitor desk and appreciates the advances in wireless technology pioneered by Sennheiser. “With the wireless vocal mics, a few Sennheiser ew 500 G3 wireless instrument packs, and all of our monitor channels, I've got close to twenty frequencies to manage,” he said. “I'm running the Sennheiser Wireless Frequency Manager software, which makes the setup reliable and easy. Dialing the whole system in is fast, and I have yet to experience any wireless glitches. And I don't anticipate it.”
In contrast to most American artists, Rupsch estimates that less than half of Katy Perry's shows are in the U.S., which means that he and the crew find themselves in exotic locations – with equally exotic RF landscapes – more often than not. “A huge part of our decision to go with Sennheiser is its robust RF performance and its network of global support,” said Rupsch. “The Global Relations Team and support network at Sennheiser are always there with anything we need, from parts, to gear, to up-to-the-minute frequency ranges anywhere in the world. No matter where we are, be it the Teen Choice Awards or Kuala Lumpur, Sennheiser is there for us.”
In addition to their Sennheiser wireless complement, the tour also travels with a wired microphone collection that's brimming with Sennheiser's celebrated evolution series. Sennheiser e 902 large-diaphragm dynamics give the kick drum and floor tom a fitting “WHUMP!” with e 604 clip-on mics delivering the same for the rack toms. Sennheiser e 614 and e 914 small-diaphragm condensers provide crystal clear capture of the hi-hat, ride and overheads. Classic Sennheiser e 906 square dynamics deliver guitars with all the right nuance and crunch. A second set of e 914s provides audience pickup so that Rupsch can goose the personal monitor mixes with the fans' excitement, which consistently snowballs an energetic performance into an explosive one night after night.