Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
James Taylor takes Shure KSM9 on tour
A personal experience for both James Taylor and his fans, the One Man Band Tour intersperses a full concert set of 20 songs with a rich narrative highlighting events spanning the artist's life. Illustrated with photos and drawings from Taylor's own private archives, the monologue reveals the inspirations behind the songs, offering rare insight into a body of work known widely the world over.
Since March 2006, Taylor has alternately traveled with both his full band and as a one-man act, with the latter being captured for release on DVD at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, MA, by Sydney Pollack and Don Mischer. The task of developing the show's audio blueprint was assigned to veteran engineer Dave Morgan, known for his work with Paul Simon, Bette Midler and Steely Dan, among others. Morgan approached his One Man Band assignment with monitor engineer Andy Sottile.
"The first thing I wanted to examine before I started touring with James was his vocal sound," Morgan said. "He had been using an AKG 535 for quite a while, and had made a switch to in-ear monitors some time ago. I always try to put myself in the performer's place. I know the 535 as well as any mic, and since it has a pattern approaching omni at either end of the frequency spectrum, I reasoned that if I were him, I'd want a vocal mic a bit more suited for use with in-ear monitors. The off-axis information coming into the 535 wasn't ideal in this application."
Enter Shure's hardwired KSM9, a reference-quality, dual-diaphragm design that’s switchable between cardioid and supercardioid pickup. Morgan brought the mic to the first rehearsals, held in Taylor's barn in Lenox, MA, in 2006. "It's clean, transparent, sweet-sounding and honest,” Morgan said. “And for James Taylor, it works perfectly with his in-ear monitors, which was one of my main concerns. Quite often, mics with tight pattern control like this one come back off-axis hard and distorted, but such is not the case with the KSM9. Everything sounds amazingly true."
Besides Taylor, the only other primary instrument on stage is Larry Golding’s grand piano. For this critical application, Morgan selected a pair of Shure KSM44 studio condenser mics.
For more information, visit www.shure.com.