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Sennheiser Captures HIM

Lead singer for HIM, Ville Valo

Since its formation in 1994, HIM has earned an enviable worldwide following with its unique brand of hard rock, self-described as “love metal” and has toured with such top bands as Metallica, Linkin Park, and My Chemical Romance. As the first Finnish band to produce a U.S. gold-certified album, HIM is using an extensive collection of Sennheiser evolution wired mics and Sennheiser evolution G3 wireless personal monitors during their 2010 world tour. The microphone selections, which included an e 965 condenser on lead vocals; e 935 dynamics on backing vocals; e 902s, e 904s, and e 905s on drums; and e 906s on guitars, were made after a blind shootout involving products from all of the major live sound microphone manufacturers.


Pasi Hara, monitor engineer & production manager, and Brad Divens, FOH engineer, have worked tirelessly to capture HIM’s polished performances with the utmost impact. Lead singer and HIM founder Ville Valo has, in the words of Hara, “tried almost every single live sound vocal mic that is currently manufactured.” He continued, “We’ve been switching mics around for a few years. Ville is a very dynamic vocalist, and we needed something that was very flat and natural to capture his performance. We were almost settled on the Neumann KMS 105, which sounds amazing, but we were still getting too much leakage from the backline.”

Sennheiser’s Pierre Morant, relations manager EMEA, took on the mic challenge to find a perfect solution. “He and his team suggested the Sennheiser e 965, which has a sound that is very similar to the KMS 105,” said Hara. “And it turned out to be more suitable due to the very high SPLs we have on stage. Drummer Mika Karppinen hits very hard, and the e 965 does a great job of keeping that out of the vocals. A big part of working with the Sennheiser Global Relations Team is the behind-the-scenes support they provide.”

The engineers had experimented with Sennheiser e 945 super-cardioids on backing vocals, but there was too much movement off the mic. “I’ve been using the Sennheiser e 935 for years with other acts,” said Hara. “It has very good rejection, but the pattern is more forgiving of movements. The sound is nice and warm and mixes well.” Thus, Sennheiser e 935 cardioid dynamics served to capture backing vocals on the latest tour.

In preparation for the tour, Hara and Divens started from scratch to create the perfect drum sound. To avoid biasing their choices, they performed a blind mic shoot-out. Mics from multiple manufacturers were set up simultaneously on Karppinen’s kit, but only an assistant knew which was which as they A/B’d them in succession. With as many as four choices at each individual drum, Sennheiser mics came out on top.

Against a crowd of “must-have” snare mics, the Sennheiser e 905 was a clear favorite for its honest capture that mixed well to provide a solid rhythmical backbone. Across all the toms, Sennheiser e 904 mics delivered the authoritative tone that communicated, “yes, we may be singing about love, but this is still metal behind the drum kit.” Although tone was the principle criteria, Hara was glad that the Sennheiser mics were also the most rugged and convenient of the contenders. “The Sennheiser mics can withstand, dare I say, the abuse from Mika,” he said. “The robust rim clips on the e 904s make our setup more reliable and efficient.”

Bass player Mikko Paananen uses an Avalon DI, whereas guitarist Mikko Lindström uses a nicely tweaked mic combo to capture the roar and nuance of his Laney cabinet. A large diaphragm condenser provides a sonic backdrop for the bite and thickness of a Sennheiser e 906. “I have a pair of e 906s back at home,” said Hara. “I have always liked its thick sound and the way that it mixes easily without stepping on other instruments.”

In anticipation of the tour, Hara revamped HIM’s wireless personal monitor system. “Sennheiser’s G3 Series was technologically well ahead of the field,” said Hara. The system uses one Sennheiser A 5000 CP antenna and a Sennheiser AC 3200 combiner together with eight Sennheiser SR 300 IEM G3 transmitters. Twelve Sennheiser EK 300 IEM G3 receivers provide outputs for the musicians and techs. “I am extremely happy with the wireless performance of Sennheiser’s new G3 Series,” enthused Hara. “You would have to work very hard to make it drop out! We’ve never been close to having a problem during a show. I also love that the management software now runs native on a Mac.”

About Sennheiser

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 over €385 million in 2008. Sennheiser employs more than 2,100 people worldwide, around 55% of whom are in Germany. Sennheiser has manufacturing plants in Germany, Ireland and the USA, and 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 the joint venture Sennheiser Communications A/S (headsets for PCs, offices and call centers).