Since opening in the summer of 2008, LPR –- which has been recognized by restaurant guide Zagat® as having a “perfect sound system” -- has hosted a remarkably eclectic listing of musical performances. Any given show may feature a classical pianist, hardcore avant-garde ensemble, or anything in between. Perhaps the only common element among the performances is that each one is captured using Sennheiser ’s evolution series microphones.
Le Poisson Rouge: Bringing out the Best
Shortly after opening, LPR recruited Richie Clarke, a 15-year sound veteran who has worked across every conceivable genre of music including jazz, rock, reggae, classical and R&B. Clarke, who came from New York’s famed Manhattan Center studios, has been a longtime user of Sennheiser equipment and brought with him a solid understanding of microphones and sound. On his first day of work, among the first things he did was check out the mic cabinet at LPR. “Sennheiser has always been extremely high on my personal list and -– along with Neumann -- is the only microphone company I’d want us to be closely aligned with,” he says.
The broad range of performances at LPR presents unique technical challenges. “Some nights we need to mic a 30-piece orchestra with various classical instruments and percussion –- often ‘in the round’ in front of the P.A.,” Clarke observes. “Our collection of Sennheiser mics helps me achieve the highest possible sound pressure level with no feedback -- while maintaining the sound integrity of each instrument.” Since LPR often features multiple performances in a day, Clarke and his team are often working against the clock. “It is very tightly scheduled, so when we put a mic on an instrument -– whether it is a screaming electric guitar or a gentle violin -– we need that microphone to help us get to where we need to be as fast as possible.”
For drums and percussion, Clarke is big a fan of the Sennheiser e 900 series all around. “They sound great whether we are doing heavy hip hop shows or more sensitive jazz standards. The sound of the drum comes through so naturally, and it is all there before EQ,” Clarke says. In terms of specific placements, he prefers to use the e 901 and e 902 on the kick, inside and out. On the snare, he uses an e 905. “This gives us the punch we need –- whether it’s rock or jazz,” Clarke says. He uses e 904s on toms, an e 614 on hi-hat and e 914s as overheads.
Perhaps Clarke’s most favorite microphone of all is the Sennheiser e 906. “For the guitars, we use these exclusively -- there is never a situation where they don't work,” he says. “Our room is a very bright room, and the 906 brings out all the right elements. They give you the crunch of the sound, but without the brittleness.”
LPR routinely puts Sennheiser microphones to the test on vocals, and the e 965 has quickly earned its position as ‘most favored microphone,’ Clarke says: “We already loved the e 935 and e 945, and didn’t think it could get any better. Then we got our hands on an e 965 and I had everyone try it out independently. One by one, I started getting emails and texts from all my engineers telling me that it is the best sounding vocal mic they ever heard. They all had the same experience.”
Microphones that translate to live broadcast
As LPR becomes well established beyond the boroughs of New York City, Internet broadcasting plays an increasingly important role in helping the club attract and maintain its loyal fan base. “We started streaming shows about six months ago and hit our highest viewership numbers in the last couple of weeks,” Clarke says. “It is very important to me that if I have a great sound in the room that it also translates to our live broadcasts. So far, whatever I hear from the mix position sounds great on the radio as well, and this is in large part due to the quality we are getting out of those Sennheiser mics.”
Clarke says that the magic of Sennheiser microphones lies beyond just the great sound: “The versatility of these microphones is very important to me. Being able to switch microphones at any given moment and roll with the punches is key. Sennheiser is a lifesaver here because they perform well across so many different instruments. I can mix and match any of these mics, and they all sound good!”