AKG microphones and wireless system help bring out subtleties in British singer’s soulful, intimate performances
MELBOURNE, Australia—AKG by HARMAN is the microphone brand of choice for British solo artist Passenger. The singer-songwriter best known for his chart-topping 2013 single “Let Her Go” is currently on tour in Australia in support of his newest album, Whispers II, which came out last year.
Simon Kemp, front of house (FOH) engineer for the Passenger tour who has worked with Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey, Lionel Richie and Tom Jones, has used AKG products on tour for many years. Kemp said the goal for this tour was to create a true representation of his guitar in a wireless environment—something AKG was able to facilitate.
“A lot of wireless systems compound or color the signal,” said Kemp. “For some artists it works great, but this show is all about musical purity. The tour is just Passenger and his guitar, and we want 10,000 people to feel like he’s playing unplugged right in front of them. The AKG DMS800 digital wireless system allows us to make that happen.”
Kemp added that he uses the DMS800 system for all of Passenger’s guitars, noting that once he finds clean air, the system locks in immediately, and he has never encountered a single issue or dropout with the system in three years.
Passenger spent years busking, and though he has gained mainstream success, is still known to do impromptu shows in the streets while on tour. Kemp said that the power of Passenger’s performances stems from an incredible level of intimacy he creates with audiences, which is something he wanted to be sure to capture sonically.
“The hardest thing to mix is a sound where you actually have to hear every single spoken word and phrase, even down to the gasps when an artist catches their breath,” said Kemp. “The AKG D7 reference microphone best highlights the dynamism of Passenger’s vocals with a vocal condenser feel. It also provides the most feedback rejection of any microphone I’ve tried.”
Kemp had the idea to put an AKG C411 microphone in each of Passenger’s shoes for a stomp effect, which he said works incredibly well for accurate vibration pickup without coloration. When Passenger taps his feet, the microphones pick up a beat that Kemp sends to the subwoofers to create some low frequency weight in the mix.
Kemp said that his strong working relationship with AKG is an important reason he continues to rely on its products tour after tour.
“I have had and continue to have a great relationship with AKG,” said Kemp. “Not just for live shows, but for location and ambient recordings as well. I feel so comfortable with AKG products at this point— the reliability and range of products allows me to find just the right fit for each situation—and when I do, I know the products are going to work.”