Neumann Mics Cover Santa Fe Jazz Festival

Feb 18, 2004 12:00 PM, Editors


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Bassist/film composer Dan Kolton and recording artist Bruce Dunlap’s Santa Fe Jazz and International Music Festival celebrated its third series of concerts this fall. During the three-week period that commenced on October 19, 2004—a total of 24 concerts, featuring Randy and Michael Brecker, Bill Frisell, Kenny Werner and Dave Holland—attracted thousands of fans, Dunlap was responsible for the overall direction of the festival and Kolton oversaw the recording and front-of-house mixing for the package of shows.

Pictured: Jazz great Neena Freelon at the recent Santa Fe Jazz Festival using a KMS 105

Back in 2000, the concerts were held in a 400-seat venue, but increased interest in the programming has allowed the promoters to move to a space twice the size. For Kolton, who learned engineering on the job when he put together his own project studio in Michigan, the experience of working with multiple artists in rapid succession has been quite an experience: "Trial by fire, I guess that's the best way to put it! You find out in a hurry that you have to lean on the equipment you use. There are certainly time pressures in the film and television business, but a single piece of equipment failure doesn't expose you in front of a full audience the way it would in a live situation."

Kolton has come to rely heavily on his cabinet of Neumann microphones. "We've got a number of Neumann mics, and they individually handle specific tasks extremely well. For example, I like to use a pair of TLM 193s on piano. For jazz, I find that backing off the mics a little lets me capture a full picture of the whole piano. I've found the 193s have a smoother and more realistic sound for this application. They pick up the high frequencies accurately without yielding an overly bright sound. I've also used the Neumann KM 184s—a pair of them—on the piano, but one of my very favorite applications for the 184s is using them for audience overheads. The 184s capture a nice image of the stage while bringing the audience into the picture in a very natural way. Then again, the 184 is a workhorse mic. I've used them on acoustic guitars and as overheads for drums. I find that placing them up high delivers a beautiful stereo image of the drums. When a percussionist shows up with a broad percussion table, I'll grab the 184s, once again because of the beautiful image they capture of a wide space."

Kolton likes to use a Neumann TLM 170 on acoustic bass, an instrument whose properties he is particularly familiar with. "Some of the bassists performing at the festival have never used amplification, yet getting them to use the 170 is never a problem. With its smooth sound and easy rejection, I can focus directly on the instrument and deliver a clear, natural sound. If, for example, a trio of piano, bass and amplified voice is performing I might throw some Neumann TLM 193s on the piano, a Neumann KMS 105 on the vocalist and a TLM 170 on the bassist. I'm basically a minimalist, so having the 170 bottom solid and smooth while the top and mids retain the image of the attack, the musicians are comfortable with their performance sound."

Kolton splits his signals by running a bus from the mix console inputs to an Alesis HD24 hard disk recorder. All of the HD24 channels have True Precision preamps on the front end. "I really can't say enough good things about the True Precision preamps. It's really very simple. These mic pre’s sound great! They add nothing to the sound that you don't want and deliver everything you do want!”

For more information, visit Sennheiser, Neumann’s distributor, at For more touring news, visit

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