Metallica monitor engineer, Bob Cowan (right) and his assistant, Ozzy Giron with their new rack of Sennheiser 2000 Series IEMs being used on the band's current "World's Magnetic Tour." (PHOTO CREDIT: Jeff Yeager)
SAN RAFAEL, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 2009: Nine-time Grammy Award-winning heavy metal band Metallica, currently touring in support of their "Death Magnetic"
album, has integrated Sennheiser's new 2000 Series personal monitoring system into its touring rig. According to the band's monitor engineer, Bob Cowan, the recently introduced 2000 Series system provides him with invaluable networking and software capabilities that guarantee more than enough usable frequencies at any venue, together with rock-solid wireless performance and a sonic quality that has drawn praise from band members.
Cowan approached the band members about replacing their aging IEM system, which was capable of accessing only sixteen frequencies, and found them all receptive to the idea. Having purchased a system comprising four Sennheiser SR 2050 twin transmitters plus EK 2000 IEM belt-packs and the new AC 3200 active transmitter combiner through Doug Reed, manager of Tour Supply's Minnesota office, Cowan reports that the first time the band used it, "They loved it. Vocalist/guitarist James Hetfield was very vocal that he really loved the new packs, the way they sounded, the fact that there aren't any dropouts, and that I can get them good frequencies all the time."
Demonstrating that the 2000 Series system is truly plug and play, Cowan replaced the old wireless personal monitor system in the middle of the recent second European leg of the band's World Magnetic Tour. "The very first show I used it was in Madrid, Spain, on July 13," he recalls. "We literally pulled everything out of the boxes at load-in that morning, plugged it in and did the first show."
Replacing the entire personal monitor rig mid-tour was a testament to Cowan's confidence in Sennheiser equipment, as the band had no opportunity to try the system before walking onstage for the show since they never soundcheck. "I've always been an ambassador for Sennheiser products, because of the quality, first and foremost, and because of the support that they've given me," he comments. "I can email Kristy Jo Winkler, relations manager, Americas and Canada, at two in the morning after a show and she'll respond with something positive and helpful." Cowan also acknowledges the support of Sennheiser's Jonas Næsby in the Nordic region office, as well as Kevin Jungk in the USA.
Sennheiser's Wireless Systems Manager (WSM) software, supplied as standard with the 2000 Series, has proved to be especially beneficial, according to Cowan, who networks his laptop and the eight personal monitor channels via Ethernet through an HP ProCurve 2324 network switch. Cowan appreciated the networking expertise of his World Magnetic Tour assistant, Ozzie Giron, an FOH/monitor engineer with whom he has also worked on Megadeth, George Benson and other tours, during integration of the new system. "He totally educated me," Cowan said. "I felt a lot more comfortable with him involved."
Setup of the 2000 Series system at each show is easy, says Cowan, who performs a complete frequency scan using a belt-pack either onstage or at monitor world. That data is loaded into the laptop by synchronizing the pack to a rack unit via the IR ports. The WSM software indicates which of the twenty banks offers the most usable frequencies, and which frequencies are the strongest. "So then I'll just click and drag the selected frequencies to all my units and I'll sync the belt packs to the units," he adds.
The WSM software also includes a spectrum analyzer and an RF recorder, which operates in conjunction with an additional handheld receiver. "It's another tool that can help you figure out those weird gremlins. You can take one step closer to squashing some of those little guys, and that much closer to a cleaner, better show and environment for the musicians," says Cowan.
On September 11 in San Rafael, California, Metallica started the second North American leg of the World Magnetic Tour, which began in San Francisco in October 2008. Shows are currently scheduled through mid-December.
Sennheiser is a world-leading manufacturer of microphones, headphones and wireless transmission systems. Established in 1945 in Wedemark, Germany, Sennheiser is now a global brand represented in 60 countries around the world with U.S. headquarters in Old Lyme, Connecticut. Sennheiser's pioneering excellence in technology has rewarded the company with numerous awards and accolades including an Emmy, a Grammy, and the Scientific and Engineering Award of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.