MTV's version of Charo, Shakira, is now out on the road touring in support of her latest album, Laundry Service, her first in English. She'll be criss-crossing the globe over the next eight months, taking in major markets in North and South America and Europe. The lighting designer for this tour is LeRoy Bennett; monitor engineer is Vish Wadi, who reports that the singer's microphone of choice, the Neumann/Sennheiser KK 105-S, will accompany her wherever she goes. Handling FOH for Shakira is Robert “Cubby” Colby aided by the able Clair Brothers crew: Gene Phillips, Mike Mason, and Tom Ford.
“She started with the KK 105-S before I came into the picture,” reports Wadi, whose résumé as a monitor engineer includes Sting, Lauryn Hill, and Mary J. Blige. Shakira was first introduced to the Neumann/Sennheiser hybrid microphone at Divas Las Vegas, VH1's celebration of female vocal talent held at the beginning of this year at the MGM Grand Hotel. The show was one of the first at which the brand-new vocal mic was available, and having used it, Wadi reports, “Shakira really liked the mic.” An appearance at the MTV VMAs in New York later in the year confirmed it for the singer, who has now adopted it full-time.
Wadi has a long history with Sennheiser and was instrumental in the final design decisions for the evolution e 865 condenser vocal microphone. Wadi beta-tested the mic with Sting during his Brand New Day world tour, helping Sennheiser fine-tune its performance. He is equally impressed with the performance of the new KK 105-S, he says. “I like it; it sounds good. It's nice and breathy. It's a studio-quality microphone.” The hybrid pairs the new Neumann KK 105-S capsule head, based on the KMS 105 studio vocalist mic, with Sennheiser's SKM 5000 N handheld transmitter.
Shakira and her band are also carrying a Sennheiser evolution 300 Series wireless ear monitor system with them on the tour, notes Wadi. “When you look at the audio quality, the transmission, and everything, I think that the evolution 300 Series is the best ear monitor system on the market right now.” Marty Garcia, president of Future Sonics, has been working with the tour providing Future Sonics Ear Monitors® with MG4 drivers to complement the Sennheiser wireless systems.
Wadi continues, “Altogether, including effects and stuff, I'm handling 24 mixes on the Midas Heritage. Everybody is on ears, except one of the background singers. She's on wedges; she's just not an ear monitor person.”
Those using the EW 300 wireless system include Shakira, the two guitar players, the violin player, and the drummer, “when he comes to the middle of the stage for some songs,” explains Wadi. “Everybody else is on hard-wired ear monitors” [i.e., the other three in the line-up plus the drum position].
With DTV transmission facilities proliferating steadily across the country as TV stations migrate to the new digital standard, a frequency agile system with the ability to penetrate the busy spectrum is a necessity. The EW 300 Series supports a potential total of 1,280 switchable frequencies that you can pick from, notes Wadi.
Wadi has a busy time ahead of him with Shakira. “The first show was November 8. This leg finishes the middle of December. She's just doing the major Spanish markets right now, as she just crossed over last year in America. We're going to go to Europe next month, again to the major markets. We start again in mid-January with more US dates in the Spanish markets, then a South American tour through to the end of March.”