Adele and the Digital 9000

Sennheiser Digital 9000 provides an uncompromising solution for Adele's tour


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The greatest pop singer of our times has made her decision: During her tour, she has placed her trust in a single microphone.

  • Author: Max Sprick
  • Photos: Alexandra Waespi

Her last album "25" broke myriad sales records, her videos have been viewed billions of times and she has won 10 Grammys and an Oscar: Adele hasn't just changed both the present and future of music, but she has decisively shaped both. She has become a leading global pop music personality.

On the heels of her European appearances, Adele has been on tour in North America since July 20. It is likely the biggest tour of 2016, one that includes several shows in New York's Madison Square Garden, the Staples Center in Los Angeles and in Toronto's Air Canada Centre.

„Adele wants her voice to take center stage, not a distracting show.“

Uncompromising, digital transmission for a pure sound

Her tour has the highest possible production demands and there is simply no room for even the smallest of errors. The German equipment rental company Black Box Music from Berlin is responsible, providing a team of highly talented audio engineers who rely on equipment from Sennheiser. Adele and her three backup singers rely on Sennheiser's flagship microphone: the Digital 9000 system.

It is a microphone that works with uncompressed digital signal transmission for a pure, visionary sound free of intermodulation. Dave Bracey, the tour's front-of-house engineer, says: "This is the first time that Adele and we have used the Digital 9000." The singer used a variety of Sennheiser microphones during her last tour and tried out additional models for the current one. "After we listened to the 9000 during rehearsals, we knew we had the winner," Bracey says. "It was such a leap forward straight away that we knew it was the right choice."

Adele's concerts in North America have long since sold out and she'll be touring until the end of November - with the Digital 9000 in her hand. "The main thing is that there's no compression or expanding going on in the transmission stage. All of that messing with the signal that happened with analogue radio systems is just not there now. It used to be the case that the cable version of any system sounded better than the radio one. Now there is a radio system that sounds as good as, or better than any cable microphone I've ever heard," Bracey says.

His colleague, monitor engineer Joe Campbell, agrees. "The Digital 9000 sounds great. It's the best sounding radio mic we've ever used and, moreover, Adele likes it. She's got a very good ear and she really likes the 9000."

Adele prefers a more modest stage presence; she wants the audience to concentrate on her voice and not to be distracted by a bombastic show. "It requires work" to transmit the singer's voice "because Adele's vocal performance pushes boundaries," Bracey says.

"The advancement in RF technology has enabled us to do more with more reliability," says Richard Young, production manager. "The Sennheiser system allows us to have confidence every night that the audio will be rock solid."

When she sings, she doesn't use Playback or Auto-Tune or any other corrective programs. "The tour has been fantastic so far. Adele is singing incredibly, her voice sounds beautiful. I've never heard anything like it," says Bracey. "It's one of the best sounding shows I've ever mixed, if not the best."