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Ben Harper Switches To Telefunken For World Tour

Singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist chooses M80 dynamic mic for vocals with M82, M81, and M60 FET microphones capturing the drums.

By PSW Staff September 19, 2018

Ben Harper onstage with his Telefunken M80. (Credit: Elena Di Vincenzo)

Recording and touring engineer Danny Bernini has spent the last year traveling the world mixing front of house for Ben Harper, who had previously used the same microphone for many years before trying a Telefunken M80 dynamic mic.

“It’s a whole new ball game for me at front of house,” says Bernini. “Now I have a really easy time getting Ben’s vocal to sit right in the middle of the mix and sound full and clear without having to hardly work at it at all. People continually comment on the quality of the vocal sound.”

Singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Ben Harper plays an eclectic mix of blues, folk, soul, reggae and rock. He is known for his guitar-playing skills, vocals, live performances, and social activism. Harper has released twelve studio albums and is a three-time Grammy Award-winner.

“The M80 has a clarity, warmth and richness of tone, while minimizing leakage from other instruments on stage,” says Harper. “The microphone is so good that I retired my in ear monitors and went back to using regular onstage monitors/wedges. The Telefunken M80 is a game changer.”

“We used the M80 on his main vocal all through the Europe tour,” Bernini continues, “but when we got to LA, Ben asked if we could make the switch to M80 on the piano vocal as well, so now it’s M80’s all around for vocals. My personal philosophy is that if the singer is connecting with the person furthest back in the room, then we have the chance of capturing the whole audience and that’s when the magic happens. I want every person in the room to feel like the singer is singing to them. The M80 allows me to make that happen without having the vocal sitting way above the mix. I can sit the vocal right in the middle of the stereo field and have it sound big and full and clear without too much effort.”

The challenge for a front of house engineer is getting a consistent sound while working in a different acoustic environment at every venue. Bernini explains, “I like the M80 because it has the clarity I need in the top end and it’s also tight in the monitors, so I’m not getting a ton of low-mids back from the wedges on stage when I need to push the vocal and I’m also not getting a ton of cymbals when the singer gets off the mic. I don’t need much compression with the M80’s — I have a gentle multi-band compressor and a little de-esser inserted, but that’s about it. Wherever we tour, it usually takes me about one line to get Ben’s vocal sitting in the right place in the mix. Then it sits like a rock for the rest of the show.”

In addition to vocals, Bernini also employs Telefunken mics for the bass and drums. “I’ve been using the M82 on kick, floor tom and bass cab, M80 on top snare and M81 on bottom snare, which is smooth and flat. And I like a pair of M60 FET condenser mics on hi hats and ride. ”

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