Limp Bizkit Pushes the Limits of Sennheiser Mics
Wedemark, Germany, July 2011 – In support of their long-anticipated sixth studio album, Gold Cobra, foundational rap-metal crossover act Limp Bizkit is crisscrossing Europe to perform at a string of prominent festivals and venues. Not content to let their fans have all the high-volume fun, every member of the band insists on wedges and side-fills dialed up to chest-crushing SPLs. In an era where big-name acts of Limp Bizkit’s stature are expected to tour with the stage-taming wireless personal monitors, some might argue that the band’s reliance on a loud stage underscores their authenticity. Whatever the motivation, Limp Bizkit’s modus operandi provides monitor engineer George Squires and front-of-house engineer Greg Bess with the unique challenge of delivering 21st Century punch and clarity under far-from-ideal conditions. To succeed, they rely on the exceptional ability of Sennheiser microphones to provide natural capture with peerless rejection.
“I have twenty-one open mics in the drum fill,” stated Squires flatly. “With something other than Sennheiser, there would be a lot of latitude for things to go wrong – either feedback, a terrible mix to avoid feedback, or both. Happily, the Sennheiser microphones that dot the stage have excellent rejection, and I’m able to pull them up to where they need to be without issue.”
Across a truly gigantic drum set, which features at least two of everything, Squires and Bess have recently shifted every mic to Sennheiser. The modern classic Sennheiser e 901 paired with an e 902 sits in each bass drum. “The 901 and 902 really complement each other,” said Squires. “The 901 has lots of low end and attack, while the 902 gives me nice low-mid push.” Sennheiser e 905s cover the top and bottom of both snares, with Sennheiser e 614 pencil condensers conveying the cymbals and hi-hats.
A legion of Sennheiser e 904 clip-on mics captures the toms. “We had previously used another manufacturer’s tom mics,” reported Bess, “but they were prone to problems. For one, they required a gooseneck that always seemed to be fighting me and never wanted to stay in place. They had a little spaghetti cable that had a habit of failing. And they died when they took a hit. In contrast, the Sennheiser e 904s are simple and reliable to use, and they keep working no matter what abuse is heaped on them.” Taken together, Squires concludes that, “even for a metal band, Limp Bizkit has a very natural drum sound. It moves a lot of air but still contains a lot of dimensionality and openness.”
All of Limp Bizkit’s vocals use Sennheiser e 935 capsules, with frontman Fred Durst pushing the limits of the Sennheiser SKM 2000 wireless transmitter with an MMD 935-1 cardioid capsule, and Wes Borland and Sam Rivers on wired 935s for backing vocals. A Sennheiser EM 2050 receiver ties Durst back to the wired universe. “I know I’ve said it before, but rejection is the key for me,” said Squires. “The 935 capsule sounds great on-axis and drops to nothing off-axis. It’s smooth and warm and almost completely immune to feedback. On top of the sound and rejection, both the wired and wireless Sennheiser mics have proven to be very durable. After all, this is Limp Bizkit, s**t hits the ground! Time and again, the Sennheiser mics come back up working perfectly.”
Classic Sennheiser MD 421 IIs pair with Sennheiser e 906s to deliver Limp Bizkit guitar tone without mercy. “The 421/906 combination gives me a natural, rounded sound that captures all the attitude that I hear coming straight out of the amps,” said Bess. “It’s especially nice to have a 421 in there. It has that amazing tone that no amount of after-the-fact processing or plug-ins can mimic.”
Photo Credit: 2011 Ricky Skinner