Pop-punk sensation Simple Plan is loved by its millions of worldwide fans as much for its high-energy live performances as for its note-perfect studio albums. The band tours relentlessly. Indeed, Simple Plan logged over three-hundred shows in a single year in support of their debut album of almost a decade ago. On the current world tour for their latest album, Get Your Heart On! – a simultaneously sweet and cynical comment on the raptures and ravages of love – the band will make well-attended stops in Korea, China, Japan, Australia and South America, in addition to North America and Europe. Wherever Simple Plan goes the band takes a brimming chest of Sennheiser and Neumann wired microphones together with twenty-two channels of Sennheiser wireless microphones, instrument packs, and personal monitors.
Simple Plan’s frontman Pierre Bouvier recently found the wireless microphone that “gets his heart on,” so to speak – the Neumann KK 105 S super-cardioid condenser head paired with a Sennheiser SKM 5200-II handheld transmitter. “He had previously been using a dynamic capsule that everyone was happy with until he had a chance to borrow a KK 105 S while playing with another band,” explained tour and production manager Paul McManus. “It’s a lot easier for him to sing into the “studio-like” KK 105 S. He doesn’t have to work at it. Not only does that make it easy for him to step up and fall naturally into the pocket, but it makes our very long touring schedule a lot more doable.” FOH engineer Frank Joly agreed and added that the KK 105 S cuts through a thick punk mix nicely. Bass player and backing vocalist David Desrosiers uses a similar Neumann KK 104 S cardioid condenser, again with the Sennheiser SKM 5200-II transmitter, whereas rhythm guitarist and backing vocalist Sébastien Lefebvre uses a wired Sennheiser e 935 dynamic. Sennheiser EM 3732-II receivers grab the wireless signals, and two additional SKM 5200-II/KK 105 S pairs serve as backup and guest mics.
Although Joly is a strong proponent of experimenting with sound – indeed, he has been known to use a Neumann KM 184 on electric guitar – the guitar sound for Simple Plan is… well, a simple plan. All three cabinets use a Sennheiser e 906 paired with a Sennheiser MD 421 II. “The 421 is a home run,” enthused McManus. “Its gets the meat of the guitar sound and adds a realistic ‘air’ to the sound in the PA. If you want a big guitar sound, you need a big guitar mic, and the 421 is exactly that. I’ve also used it on kick and vocals, and it’s awesome.” Another classic, the MD 421 II pairs with a DI to deliver a deep, organic bass tone that occupies a space distinct from the rest of the mix.
The drum sound begins with a combination that McManus and Joly agree is unbeatable – the Sennheiser e 901 and e 602 on kick. “It gives me lots of attack with plenty of body,” said Joly. McManus added, “The e 901 is another Sennheiser home run. Unlike every other microphone out there that tries to do the same thing, the e 901 has a very natural high end. We don’t have to deal with that ‘clack, clack, clack’ that you get with everything else.” The snare delivers with an e 905 on top and an e 904 on bottom. Additional e 904s cover the toms. The classic Neumann KM 184 pencil condenser conveys the shimmer and dynamics of the hi-hat, while similarly constructed Sennheiser e 914 pencil condensers provide overhead capture.
Mainly as a means to save some hard-earned tour cash and to remain nimble enough to commit to shows on short notice, Simple Plan does not tour with a monitor engineer. Instead, Joly sets up a Yamaha LS-9 console at the side of the stage, which delivers each band member’s monitor mix. “During soundcheck, they run over on their own and make changes, if necessary,” explained McManus. “It’s not ideal, surely, but it is a pretty reasonable compromise.” Every member of the band, along with the two techs, uses a Sennheiser ew 300 IEM G3 wireless personal monitor paired with an AC 3200 combiner and an A 5000-CP circularly polarized antenna. Every guitar and bass on stage uses an SK 2000 XP wireless instrument transmitter paired with EM 2050 receivers. “I love the flexibility and reliability of the Sennheiser wireless systems,” said Joly. “We travel to some fairly exotic places, and I always have the latitude to dial in strong RF signals using the Sennheiser equipment.”
Both Joly and McManus have found the Sennheiser Global Relations team and Chris Isaac, Sennheiser Canada artist relations manager, to be very supportive. “Simple Plan has been endorsed by Sennheiser for ten years now, almost as long as they’ve been a band,” said McManus. “Sennheiser has always been there for us, providing equipment, repairs, and amazing logistics whenever needed.”