Sennheiser’s New Digital 6000 Wireless System Powers Kendrick Lamar at Coachella
In addition to its role at Coachella, Sennheiser held a special Broadway-centric launch party for the Digital 6000 Wireless System in NYC
At the Coachella Music and Arts Festival in April, headliner Kendrick Lamar and his team turned to a combination of Sennheiser’s Digital 9000 and new Digital 6000 wireless systems to transmit every syllable of his energetic and powerful set. In addition, the Digital 6000 Series received a Broadway welcome during a special launch event in New York City that featured a performance by Broadway legend Carole Demas.
Kendrick Lamar Closes Out Coachella With Sennheiser-Fueled Performance
Monitor engineer Chris Lee says that Lamar first became interested in switching to Sennheiser digital wireless after performing with Beyoncé on her Digital 9000 system.
“He was really impressed with how that system performed on the shows they did together, so we reached out to Sennheiser and discovered that the new 6000 series receiver would work with the SKM 9000 series sticks that he had requested and perfectly fit our needs,” says Lee.
The Coachella performance marked the debut of their new wireless system, which includes two EM 6000 receivers for four channels of audio transmission. The four microphones used for the setup, which cover lead vocals, a lead vocal backup mic, and two guest mics, are each SKM 9000 transmitters paired with MD 9235 capsules.
Lee, who was already working with the artist when he was using his previous Sennheiser 5000 series wireless system, was thoroughly impressed with the leap to digital. “We were very happy with our 5000 series wireless system, but now that we’ve heard the Digital 6000 in action it’s like night and day,” he says.
It starts with the 9235 capsule, which Lee and front-of-house engineer Kyle T. Hamilton say captures Lamar’s voice remarkably well—and pushes out the rest. “The rejection on the MD 9235 is stunning,” Hamilton says. “Even with everything that’s happening on stage, this mic is really quiet.” Lee concurs. “The MD 9235 provides plenty of isolation even if he’s out in front of the PA or near the side fills with the crowd screaming,” he says.
In addition to its rejection, the sonic character of the MD 9235 capsule is a key consideration for Lee and Hamilton, and combining that with the pristine wireless transmission of the SKM 9000 transmitters and EM 6000 receivers helps the team achieve what they describe as a studio-like vocal sound. “With a show like this there are pre-programmed backing vocals and samples from the studio recordings, so you really want to try to match that studio vocals as much as possible,” Hamilton explains.
“The MD 9235 has the clarity you need for that high-end studio vocal sound. It just has that cut and airiness.” The EM 6000 also lets the pair utilize a nearly all-digital signal path throughout – dipping into analog only for a high-end tube compressor – to ensure maximum signal integrity all the way from the capsule to the PA system and monitors. “The sound coming through digital is crystal-clear, and then I can add a little color with the tube compressor for that extra magic,” Hamilton says.
The SKM 9000 and MD 9235 pairing also give Lamar the mobility and flexibility to deliver his performance without plaguing his sound team with dropouts or sonic irregularities. “It has extremely low handling noise, and even when he’s being really dynamic on the mic it doesn’t break up,” Lee says. Hamilton explains that even when Lamar was cupping the mic for a few moments it maintained an even keel. “He was getting into it and cupping the mic a little, but somehow the clarity was still there,” he says. “Most mics sound like a 102 dB kazoo when that happens.”
With staging that included a separate smaller performance area 100 feet from the main stage, Lamar moved freely throughout the show. During two songs, an elevator lifted the artist 40 feet into the air; therefore steady RF was a top concern for Lee and Hamilton. “In our production meetings we were thinking we might need a duplicate system given how much ground Kendrick covers during the show, but the RF performance of the EM 6000 is just amazing,” Lee says. “
As soon as we set it up on-site at Coachella and tested it out we realized that we were rock solid and didn’t need that secondary system at all.” Hamilton was impressed too. “Zero dropouts,” he said. “Even with all those factors with the staging it was really solid.”
After their first outing with the Digital 6000, Lee and Hamilton are ready to bring the show on the road for Lamar’s upcoming tour. “The MD 9235, SKM 9000, and EM 6000 are the exact vocal chain we’re using for the tour, so we feel ready to go after this,” Hamilton says.
While Hamilton has worked with Sennheiser wireless gear in the past, he has also used other manufacturers in certain situations, but after using Kendrick Lamar’s Digital 6000 rig he feels that Sennheiser has emerged as the clearest in wireless transmission. “I bow down to Sennheiser on this one,” he says. “I’m really impressed. You could say I’m very much in the Sennheiser camp now.”
Sennheiser’s Digital 6000 Wireless System Takes a Bite Out of The Big Apple
Following the successful global introduction of its Digital 6000 wireless system in March, audio specialist Sennheiser held a special launch event in New York City in an entertaining and informative setting. The event was held at the posh Midtown West restaurant etcetera etcetera, and included a select group of top Broadway sound designers, local broadcasters, and high-level equipment rental houses — each of whom enjoyed a performance by Broadway legend Carole Demas and a synopsis of Sennheiser’s latest digital wireless system.
The evening began with a heartfelt performance by Demas, followed by Sennheiser’s sales managers delivering a detailed walk-through of the brand new digital wireless system, which is suited towards a diverse set of industry applications. Sennheiser also discussed recent changes to FCC regulations and whitespace issues, with Sennheiser’s David Missall explaining how the Digital 6000 series is well-suited to adapt.
Demas, whose storied career includes highlights such as originating the role of Sandy in the 1971 musical Grease, demonstrated one of Sennheiser’s new SKM 6000 handheld transmitters by performing a selection of Broadway favorites. The transmitter, fitted with a Neumann KK 205 capsule, captured her voice with lifelike detail before being transmitted to a Sennheiser EM 6000 dual-channel receiver, ensconcing the intimate space with her own unique vocal stylings.
Designed for the Discerning Sennheiser sales managers were on hand to walk attendees through all the features of the Digital 6000 system. Many of the features are present on the company’s flagship Digital 9000 system, but in a two-channel receiver format. The result is a reliable and compelling wireless tool that is scalable to a wide range of applications.
The Digital 6000 borrows the Digital 9000’s unparalleled long range transmission mode and boasts a massive 244 MHz of switching bandwidth. An innovative user interface makes getting the most out of the Digital 6000 a snap. Sennheiser’s True Bit Diversity and predictive algorithms make it incredibly stable and an ideal choice for even the most demanding professional environments. An optional Dante version ensures that the Digital 6000’s receiver is easily integrated into cutting-edge network-based workflows.
Missall, who utilized a Sennheiser HSP 4 headworn microphone and SK 6000 bodypack transmitter to deliver his audio to the EM 6000, concluded the event by conducting a formal training session concerning the recent FCC spectrum update and some of the challenges it presents for wireless microphone users and manufacturers.
“The reallocation of most of the 600 MHz spectrum range places some new demands on those designing and utilizing wireless microphones, and this is among the reasons why we have tailored the Digital 6000 to provide excellent spectrum efficiency,” Missall says. “This makes the Digital 6000 the perfect tool for navigating the changing RF landscape.”