Peyroux journeys through The Blue Room with Sennheiser
Jazz singer-songwriter Madeleine Peyroux is currently on tour throughout Europe, Australia, New Zealand, the Far East and the US to promote her sixth and latest album, The Blue Room. Noted for her trademark smoky vocals and understated image, Peyroux is a genre-blending singer who fuses jazz, blues, country and pop into a style that is undeniably her own, enabling her to revisit and reinvent some of the greatest classics of our time from the likes of Ray Charles, Leonard Cohen and The Beatles.
The Blue Room is Peyroux’s fourth collaboration with distinguished producer and jazz musician Larry Klein (who has also produced Joni Mitchell, Walter Becker, Tracy Chapman and Herbie Hancock amongst others). What started out as a homage to Ray Charles has turned out to be a glorious fusion that also draws in classics from other artists and has become Peyroux’s musical narrative through time and genre, all with her own unique interpretation. Peyroux and the entire band have selected a combination of Sennheiser and Neumann microphones as their systems of choice for this tour, with Peyroux opting for a Neumann KMS 104.
Peyroux’s FoH engineer, Gerard Albo, who was highly instrumental in the artist’s final choice of microphone, explained why he felt that Sennheiser and Neumann would be a good option. “I’m a big fan of Sennheiser and Neumann microphones,” said Albo. “I’ve been working with them since 2006 with artists such as Corinne Bailey Rae, Roisin Murphy, Amy Winehouse, Anastacia and many more. They offer very high quality products with a huge range to choose from covering pretty much any live, studio or broadcast situation with guaranteed results. They also have a massive worldwide network which means I can get access to just about any equipment I need – and support – wherever I am.”
Albo first introduced Peyroux to Neumann microphones last year at the beginning of a tour. After a few tests between the Neumann KMS 104 and KMS 105, they both felt that the KMS 104 cardioid microphone was better suited to bringing out the subtleties of her voice. “Madeleine is a perfectionist,” explained Albo. “Unlike many other artists she knows exactly what she wants and is able to recognize all the frequencies while tuning her monitor. She has extremely good ears and high expectations when it comes to sound. Her performance is very quiet and understated, yet her voice has huge dynamic range so sonic perfection is a must, particularly as every song tells a story and it is essential that the audience understands every word. We went for the cardioid KMS 104 in the end rather than the hypercardioid 105, mainly because Madeleine is very mobile when she sings and often moves away from the microphone. I confess this can be a bit of a challenge for me at times but the 104 is still able to capture all the details in her voice, so we’re both happy! The KMS 104 suits her perfectly, and I honestly can’t think of a better tool to bring out the best of Madeleine’s voice. Finally, it’s solid, road-proof and looks good – what more could you want!”
As far as the rest of the band is concerned, Albo opted for a full complement of Sennheiser microphones, starting with (2) e 614s for snare and hi-hat, 3 x e 908 D for toms, 5 x MK 4 for the Leslie speaker, guitar amp and acoustic bass, an MKH 8040 stereo pair for the grand piano and finally (2) e 935s for backing vocals. “The e 935 is one of my favorite vocal mics,” stated Albo. “It was Amy Winehouse’s mic for the last five years. As for the rest, they are all excellent quality, well-built, reliable microphones. I love the MK 4 on guitar amps, piano lows, cello and overheads, whilst the MKH 8040 is perfect for stereo overhead for the piano – detailed and rich-sounding.”
Albo continues, “I have a great relationship with Pierre [Morant, Head of Global Relations]. He has been an invaluable help for all my projects over the last few years. This close relationship is a massive asset for me as a freelance sound engineer – it enables me to maintain the very highest standards with the artists, and Sennheiser’s level and quality of global support is second to none – it’s enormously reassuring to know that in whichever far-flung corner of the world you happen to find yourself in, Sennheiser support is never far away should you need it.”