This year marks the 41st year for the DeMiero Jazz Festival, which brings 1800 jazz fans together in Edmonds, Washington every March. The festival spans four venues, with 1500 participants from 60 performing jazz choirs. For five years running, Wayne Pumphrey, Producer and Chief Production Officer of the festival and Owner of Edmonds Pro Audio, has brought in Earthworks microphones to capture the performances.
Pumphrey had heard Earthworks microphones used live in a variety of performances, but it was at a trade show that he focused in on one microphone in particular from the line. “When I heard the PM40 at the NAMM show I knew I wanted to use this mic for our festival.”
For this year’s festival, Pumphrey brought in 2 Earthworks SR40V vocal microphones, 1 Earthworks PM40 piano microphone, 2 Earthworks FW730 FlexWands, 1 Earthworks SR30, 3 Earthworks SR30/HCs, 2 Earthworks SR25s and a KP1 inline attenuator for kick.
Pumphrey explains how the PM40 PianoMic and FW730 FlexWand act as real problem solvers for some of the more challenging setups. “Most of our groups are individual mics averaging about 16 singers. About 10 of the choirs are on risers, which is always a challenge to get the voices over the band. There are no feedback issues using the FW730. Being able to close the lid on the grand with the PM40 allowing the audience to experience the true sound of the instrument while controlling stage volume is a win/win scenario.”
Having used many other microphones for choirs and piano, Pumphrey notes the major improvements he has experienced with the PM40 and the Flexwand FW730 are “the ease of set-up, transparency of sound and the low visual impact.”
Pumphrey deployed the Earthworks microphones in three of the festival’s venues.“The main stage of the auditorium is where we had the choir riser groups during the daytime of the festival using a pair of the FW730s for groups up to 40 voices. The North Sound Center is a nice, fairly live room, which seats about 250 people and has a beautiful Boston Grand Piano where a permanent PM40 now resides. This room is one of the multi-mic rooms where, in addition to the 16 individual mics, we added a pair of SR40V mics as solo mics. The purpose was two-fold: (1) Provide students the opportunity to sing through one of the finest condenser mics available, and (2) to give educators a tangible example of upgrading their sound by adding a pair of premium vocal mics. The VIP Room is the third room using Earthworks. We used a pair of SR30/HCs as room mics for recordings we provide to the directors. For recording purposes we also used SR30 on snare, SR30/HC on guitar amp, SR25 for overheads and KP1 for kick.”
“All of the performance venues used Yamaha QL1, QL5 & M7CL digital consoles with NEXO speaker systems. For our backline gear I focus on very high quality and compactness, as most of our groups are traveling school groups and space is always at a premium. This year we featured amps from Henriksen, Phil Jones and Matchless.”
Of all the Earthworks microphones used for the festival, the FW730 FlexWands receive the most praise from both the audience and the choir directors. Pumphrey recounts the feedback he hears throughout the festival: “Primarily I hear back from the directors on the PM40 and FW730. The piano sounds like the piano and the choir sounds like “my” choir, just louder. I hear similar comments from parents and audience members about how nice it is to hear the choir. It is particularly difficult to mike the choir, especially young voices with a live band. With the FW730 we had no trouble picking up the choirs and balancing with the band.”
Pumphrey concludes: “Sonically and visually, the combination of FW730s on choir, the PM40 on piano and reinforced through a NEXO system is as good as it gets!”