01.12.2010 - Wedemark, Germany
Wedemark, Germany, December 2010 – As both a music composer and performer, Jean Michel Jarre has helped define the contemporary artistic landscape in the electronic, synth-pop, ambient, and New Age genres. Jarre’s albums and singles have sold over eighty million copies and his 1976 breakout hit, Oxygène, is the best-selling French record of all time. Millions have attended his live concerts and even more have watched the telecasts. People are drawn to Jarre’s magnificent music, which he performs live with a band of fellow electronic wizards, coupled with ever changing visual effects, including lasers, pyrotechnics, and lights. Jarre’s monitor engineer, Julien Vouillon, has recently added a Sennheiser MKH 800 TWIN studio condenser and two Sennheiser MKH 8040 modular cardioid condensers for capturing venue ambience and crowd response for both the musicians’ monitor mixes and for archival recordings.
(Photo credit: Aero Productions, Christine Ferreira; Santiago de Compostela (Spain), 31 July 2010)
Jarre’s current World Tour which has taken the sexagenarian throughout Europe in 2009 and 2010 and will continue to the Americas, Asia and Australia in 2011, is, in part, a celebration of science fiction writer and visionary Arthur C. Clarke’s life. Clarke, who died in 2008, is perhaps most famous for writing 2001: A Space Odyssey and 2010: Odyssey Two, the latter of which was written while Clarke listened to Jarre’s most famous albums. The pinnacle of the tribute occurred on 10 October 2010 (10.10.10) at London’s O2 Arena.
Vouillon’s monitoring engineering job is unique, as none of the instruments on stage require a microphone and all of the PA elements reside on the back-line, behind the performers. Vouillon mixes approximately eighty direct outputs from 1960s-and 1970s-era vintage analog synthesizers. Because the main PA stacks are on either side of a thirty-meter-wide screen (delivering only low-frequency content to the stage) and because each of the four musicians needs a custom mix with live cues from a director, Vouillon’s job is secure. He uses a DiGiCo SD7 live mixing console and uses MADI signals from the stage box both for mixing and for archiving to a hard drive.
“To match the visual experience of playing in a big arena in front of thousands of fans, the musicians need to hear both the venue and the fans in their personal monitors,” explained Vouillon. He uses the Sennheiser MKH 800 TWIN positioned at the downstage centre of the stage, aimed away from the musicians, to capture the ambience of the venue. He continued, “In most cases, I have less time to set up than I would like, and, of course, I never get to hear the venue with all of the fans until the show actually starts. Therefore, it is very nice to use the MKH 800 TWIN, because I can adjust the pick-up pattern once the show starts for the monitors and later during mixdown for the archived material.” The magic of the MKH 800 TWIN’s two capsules is that they are kept separate at the output and are capable of being mixed on any standard console to deliver polar responses that vary continuously from figure-8 to omni, with the option of varying the response for different frequencies.
Jean Michel Jarre’s monitor engineer, Julien Vouillon
Vouillon has been using Sennheiser shotgun microphones for years and continues to use the MKH 70 long- and MKH 60 short shotgun microphones for crowd ambience at the back and middle of the venue, respectively. One of each microphones was placed either side of the stage. Recently, he added a Sennheiser MKH 8040 at each of those positions as well. The MKH 8000 Series features a compact microphone body that fits modular capsules with varying pick-up patterns. The 8040 has a cardioid response. “The MKH 8040 sounds absolutely beautiful,” said Vouillon. “It has such a natural sound. It conveys an authentic rendering of the crowd near the stage and provides the musicians with the intimacy and interaction that inspires their best performances.”
Vouillon provides a lightweight Sennheiser HSP 4 head-worn mic to the music director for cues. “There are moments where there is no beat,” he explained. “Therefore, the director delivers live cues and counts. Of course, that signal stays only within the monitoring system.” All the musicians rely on a Sennheiser wireless personal monitoring system to deliver full-frequency content with well-defined stereo separation. Vouillon relies on the system to deliver reliable RF-performance no matter where they travel in the world.
The Sennheiser Group, with its headquarters in Wedemark near Hanover, Germany, is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of microphones, headphones and wireless transmission systems. The family-owned company, which was established in 1945, recorded sales of around €390 million in 2009. Sennheiser employs more than 2,100 people worldwide, and has manufacturing plants in Germany, Ireland and the USA. The company is represented worldwide by subsidiaries in France, Great Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark (Nordic), Russia, Hong Kong, India, Singapore, Japan, China, Canada, Mexico and the USA, as well as by long-term trading partners in many other countries. Also part of the Sennheiser Group are Georg Neumann GmbH, Berlin (studio microphones and monitor loudspeakers), and the joint venture Sennheiser Communications A/S (headsets for PCs, offices and call centers).