Chicago, IL (May 10, 2004)–Alicia Keys and Beyonce Knowles have a lot in common. For instance, they both have won Grammys, have had a number of multi-platinum albums, and they even spent this spring touring together on the popular Verizon Ladies First Tour with Missy Elliott. One other thing in common is that they both spent that tour relying on Sennheiser/Neumann microphones to connect with their fans. Keys found the new Sennheiser Evolution Series 935 cardioid capsule with the Evolution 500 body suited to her style, while Knowles continued her preference for the Sennheiser/Neumann wireless hybrid mic–an SKM 5000 with KK 105-S capsule.
The 23-city tour, which kicked off in Florida and ended in California in late April, played to packed arenas throughout the country. Keys is a relative newcomer to Sennheiser/Neumann mics, explained veteran engineer, Dave Skaff: “A few months back, I worked with Alicia on some award shows and special guest appearances, and decided to give the Evolution 935 a try. As soon as we put it up, I knew this was the right mic for her.”
Skaff was one of several seasoned touring engineers who were involved in beta testing of the Sennheiser E935 last year. Explaining why the mic works for Keys, he noted, “It’s very tight on axis, but still good off axis, never losing the body and feel. Unlike other microphones, it keeps the natural decay in its tone on the bottom end. Alicia can belt into this microphone and I’ve yet to hear it collapse like other mics and transmitters she’s used. She’s a dynamic singer and parts of the show are just her and piano where I have to catch every little breath, which is so important, yet it can’t sound forced or annoying as it’s very much a part of what she is doing in those quiet moments.”
Other gear onhand for the tour included two Digico D5 Live consoles at the FOH position, along with a new Showco 40-box Prism loudspeaker system and 24 of the company’s new subwoofers providing the SR. Keys’ set included three background singers, all using the same Evolution 935 capsule with the 500 series body, a 10-piece band, and additional instrumental tracks taking up 81 inputs on the Keys-dedicated D5Live. According to Skaff, SPL’s generally hovered around 98 to 103dB, with up-tempo numbers peaking around 107dB.