Milford, NH – In celebration of their 35th Anniversary, legendary rock band TOTO hit the road and brought Earthworks drum and vocal microphones along for the ride for the Japan and U.S. legs of the tour last year.
TOTO’s FOH engineer, Ken Freeman, had experience with Earthworks microphones for measurement and studio recording before trying the microphones out live on stage. “In the past, I have used Earthworks measurement microphones, which I like very much,” says Freeman. “I was first turned on to their drum condenser mics during a tracking session. I had the chance to try a pair Earthworks omnis as drum overheads. These mics had the sweetest high end. Afterward, I tried them in live performances, as overheads, but mainly for softer jazz groups. I love the presence and articulation on the cymbals. I used them live, with the band Fourplay, and the reproduced sound was natural and lacked the brittleness on many less expensive condensers.”
While working with TOTO, Freeman had the opportunity to use Earthworks drum mics and the SR40V vocal microphone on tour. Freeman describes his experience: “Last year, I was working with Keith Carlock on a TOTO tour in Japan and I got the chance to try his Earthworks DP30/C tom mics, which worked beautifully. First of all, I like their design. The gooseneck is very strong, so when you position the mic capsule it stays there. A common challenge with clip-on drum mics is keeping them in place and Earthworks did an amazing job with the gooseneck and rim mounting clips.”
In addition to the design of the tom microphone, Freeman was also equally impressed with its sound. “Sonically, I like the sound of condensers on toms and Earthworks makes very pristine sounding condensers,” explains Freeman. “After the Japan run, I contacted Earthworks eager to try other mics for the U.S. tour. For this I used Earthworks SR30 on hi-hat and SR25s as overheads. The various Earthworks drum mics complement each other very well. I would happily recommend all of the Earthworks drum mics, as I have had great results with them.”
Along with the drum microphones, Freeman also got the SR40V vocal microphone to try out. “I tried it on TOTO‘s lead singer, Joe Williams, and it was absolutely amazing! This was the best new vocal mic I have tried in years and a perfect fit for Joe. Joe sings high and has a voice very rich in harmonics. He has amazing control, but when he nails notes in his upper register, many microphones can’t handle the sound pressure, which can result in a harsh distorted high end. As soon as I put the SR40V on Joe, it was instant love for both of us. I’d love to hear all the TOTO vocals coming through the SR40Vs and only wished I had enough to mic the entire band. The SR40V was much smoother and the whole mic just felt much more under control, with no edgy peaks. Many handheld condensers have a hyped top end, which causes problems from drum and monitor bleed on louder stages. When I switched over to the SR40V, the difference was night and day. The SR40V has the condenser sound without the harshness of most other handheld condenser vocal mics. It is a very smooth, sweet sounding microphone. The mic is also very stable and I had no problems with feedback. Joe is very active on stage and occasionally goes out in front of the main house speakers. No feedback problems. It was a love fest with that mic. It was stellar and the best new mic I have tried in a long time…natural, musical, smooth. I am a big fan!”