With nearly three and a half decades of singing under his belt, Kelly Hansen, lead vocalist of Foreigner, is no stranger to vocal microphones. As the band geared up for their latest tour, the Earthworks WL40V wireless capsule came along for the ride to deliver Hansen’s vocals.
“Regarding microphones for live performance, I realized early on, that the natural profile of my voice didn’t really match with the Shure family of vocal mics,” Hansen explains. After trying out several different wireless mic capsules and wireless systems to no avail, Lorenzo Banda, monitor engineer for Foreigner, and Hansen were introduced to the Earthworks WL40V.
Banda explains, “I had never used any Earthworks microphones until being endorsed by Lectrosonics, who introduced us to Earthworks and the WL40V microphone capsule. Earthworks sent us the WL40V, and when we tried it on the Lectrosonics wireless system we loved it.”
Hansen continues, “When it comes to wireless microphone capsules, it is really all about the sound. And that is what is really great about the Earthworks capsule. It has an open top, a flatter response and a nice bottom end that really sounds like a studio condenser microphone on stage (in a wireless form). The WL40V isn’t rolled off in a weird place that doesn’t give you any bottom support and it’s not peaky in the midrange like a Shure. It just has that flat warm sound with a natural openness in the top.”
Banda also put the SR40V, the wired predecessor to the WL40V, through its paces at sound check. Banda says, “In most stage situations, you get cymbal bleed like crazy, especially when you have a drummer who plays fairly hard. Even though the vocal mics were about 18 feet away from the drums, cymbal leakage was a problem. As soon as we switched to the Earthworks SR40V and WL40V the cymbal leakage almost went away. The rear rejection capabilities of the Earthworks microphones, in addition to their excellent vocal quality and the rich sound, just floored me.”
While touring, Hansen requires a quality mix in his headphones while he performs. “If you have an in-ear monitor system, you need a microphone to be way more precise, way more accurate and way more user friendly as far as proximity goes,” Hansen explains.“Because I have an in-ear system like this, it really makes me feel like I’m in the studio, even when I am on stage. I get all of the expressiveness I desire.
“In addition, I can sing close to the microphone or back away from it without using any compression, because I can hear every detail and every nuance of the microphone. This is really important to me as a vocalist. I have been singing for a long time, and I know how to use a microphone. I know what to do to get what I want out of a good microphone. But if the microphone is not willing to give it to me, then I can’t use it.”
Another concern when going wireless is contending with RFI rich environments. “The WL40V is excellent with the Lectrosonics HH wireless microphone system,” says Hansen. “We have a lot of wireless on stage, vocals, guitars, etc. and sometimes we play in places with very heavy media environments with all sorts of radio frequency interference and other types of interference. Even in these very trying environments with a lot of RFI floating around, the combination of the WL40V and the Lectrosonics wireless system has been flawless.
“We just got back from Germany, where we did a live acoustic show, which we recorded for SWR2 in Germany,” Hansen continues. “On this recording, I use my Earthworks WL40V capsule for my vocals. I could have used a Telefunken M251 for this recording, but instead, I chose to use my Earthworks WL40V microphone capsule. Maybe the sound would have been really cool on the M251, but when you put the Earthworks capsule on a good wireless system, that makes it portable.
“So even though we are sitting down, doing an acoustic show, I could stand up and walk to the audience and say, come on, everybody sing along. There is no way this could have happened if I was using a M251. I want to thank Earthworks for giving me such a great mic to work with.”