K'naan performs with his SKM 535 G2 wireless mic and ew 300 IEM G2s during a tour this summer opening for Jason Mraz.
TORONTO, CANADA - OCTOBER 2009: Having escaped war-torn Somalia and relocated to Harlem then to Canada, poet-rapper K'naan is now introducing his conscious hip-hop to the world with a critically acclaimed second album, "Troubadour," and a re-recording of his anthem, "Wavin' Flag," for an upcoming international marketing campaign to be announced later this year.
K'naan (the name means traveler in Somali) is currently touring the U.S. and Canada with a stage-wide selection of Sennheiser evolution wireless and wired microphones and personal wireless monitors, including the new IE 8 earphones, and will be bringing his positive message to a wider international audience before the end of the year.
"We're using SKM 535 G2 wireless mics on vocals," confirms FOH engineer and production manager Steve Bumbera, who has previously worked with Jazmine Sullivan, Black Eyed Peas, and Rihanna. "And I have all but two of the guys on ew 300 IEM G2 personal monitors. They're reliable. You know you're going to find frequencies and that they're going to do what you need them to do - and they sound good. Plus, they're versatile. You're given thousands of frequency choices."
K'naan and back-up vocalist/rapper, Rayzak, are joined onstage by a four-piece band. Rayzak and guitarist DJ Washington are the only two not on ears, says Bumbera. Omar Edwards, the music director/keyboard player, and drummer George "Spanky" McCurdy, both seasoned veterans of stage and studio, already had their own molds, he says. K'naan and bassist Ray Nesmith are also using the new Sennheiser IE 8 earphones. "I'd used some other brands of generic personal monitors and a lot of them sound good, but the one thing about these IE 8s is that they stay in people's ears," observes Bumbera.
"They sound great, and they fit really, really well. I ended up getting a set for myself!"
The drum kit includes both an e 901 and an e 902 on the kick drum. "The 901 by itself is a great sounding kick drum mic, and the 902 is a nice supplement. It's a hip-hop-based band so you need to feel a good amount of thump and that gives me what I need," says Bumbera. Two e 935s cover the snare - top and bottom. "They get a little more of the crack that we need out of the snare. And I have a second side snare, which I'm using a 906 on.
Everybody says that's a weird choice, but it gives me a really nice, natural tone." The toms are miked with e 604s, with e 914 condensers on the hi-hat and cymbal overheads.
The backline mic complement is rounded out by e 906s on the guitar. Bumbera also notes that he sometimes changes out the wireless vocal mics at certain gigs. "I use e 935 hardwired mics in situations like smaller club venues. I think it looks better with a wire hanging out. Plus, there's not much difference between the wireless and wired mic. They both sound great."
Bumbera says he was drawn to work with K'naan by his music. "I heard this record and fell in love with it. I wanted to work with him." Currently touring the U.S. with Jason Mraz, K'naan and his band head to Canada next.
"In October and November we're doing a lot of international dates in support of a major international campaign," he says. "So keep your eyes open for K'naan in the near future. It should be a pretty big and beautiful thing."
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.