Pharrell uses SHURE Wireless Systems on DEAR G I R L TOUR

In January 12, 2015
On News

January 11th, 2015


Wigwam Acoustics Supplies Axient Wireless Microphone System & PSM1000 In-Ears

Dubai, UAE, January 11th, 2015 – Superstar producer/singer-songwriter Pharrell Williams made extensive use of Shure wireless microphone and in-ear monitoring systems on his first-ever headlining concert tour this Autumn. The six-week Dear G I R L tour ran from September to October and took in major venues in Western and Central Europe, including the UK’s O2 Arena. Shure’s Axient wireless microphones and PSM1000 in-ear monitoring systems, as used on the European dates, were sold by Shure Distribution UK, and supplied by Wigwam Acoustics in Heywood, Greater Manchester.

Pharrell’s regular monitor engineer Jeremy Peters informally approached US-based RF Engineer and Stage and Microphone Tech Matthew Bock, of Nashville audio technology vendor Sound Image, early in 2014 for advice about which wireless systems to use on the live dates that were then being planned in support of Pharrell’s successful G I R L album. Bock, who has worked with acts such as Taylor Swift, Brooks & Dunn, and Jimmy Buffett, had no hesitation in recommending Shure’s Axient, on which he had undergone Shure training and certification when the product was released.

Pharrell had played the two-week-long Coachella festival in the States in April and had endured continual RF interference during the first week, which resulted in the crew resorting to using wired microphones for much of the band. After that, there was a determined effort among the tour crew to improve the wireless systems, as Jeremy Peters explains.

“When I started talking to the FOH guy, it became obvious that Pharrell wanted the best of the best. From the beginning, there was no resistance to simply getting the very best gear. I knew what ears I wanted to use… I love the PSM1000s: they sound terrific, the RF on them is great, and they have a lot of gain… so that was a no-brainer. And for the mics, I wanted to go Axient from the beginning.

“I’ve worked for and with Sound Image many times before, everything from FOH to System Tech, and have worked with Matt on some really big gigs where he was handling the RF side. So I asked him about Axient, because he was the only person I knew that had really toured with it and built a rig from scratch, who knew what we would need. He basically put the whole rig together for me then, before he even came on board properly. Then we took on Sound Image officially, and I was asked, ‘should we get Matt?’ and I said, ‘yes, you bet!'”

Bock specified six channels of Axient, two for Pharrell’s vocals (one main and one backup, both running in Frequency Diversity mode), two for main support vocalists, and two guest vocal channels. 10 channels of PSM1000 in-ear monitoring were also used for the members of Pharrell’s band, with Shure’s UHF-R wireless microphone systems supplying four more channels for supporting instruments.

Following successful one-off dates in the US, Sound Image was asked to provide the systems for Pharrell’s main European tour in the Autumn. In order to ensure that the wireless systems were correctly specified for use in Europe, Sound Image approached Wigwam Acoustics’ parent company SSE, with whom they had previously worked in the UK, to supply an exact copy of the wireless equipment used on the US dates. Wigwam supplied the equipment; Shure Distribution UK fulfilled the order and carried out tech support for the tour as it moved around Europe.

“RF interference is such a problem at live venues now,” explains Matthew Bock, “and the situation is only going to get worse around the world as more and more spectrum is given over to mobile communications over the next few years. My experience of using Axient in the past had shown how reliable and resistant to interference it was, so that was my recommendation to Jeremy Peters. It was also because I really rate the Axient spectrum manager, the AXT600, and Shure’s Wireless Workbench management software, which I use with wireless systems from Shure and other manufacturers. Using those has allowed me to plan for the worst-case scenario in each venue — and then if it’s not so bad when you actually get there, you’re as prepared as you can be. That’s really my watchword: plan for the worst, hope for the best.”

As the main part of the tour got underway in Europe in the Autumn, Bock had further cause to be glad of his choices. “Some of the venues were very noisy in RF terms. In one country, I decided to use the PSM1000s in 100mW high-power mode, and I had to get special licences for that. That limited me to certain carefully defined frequencies for those, but I was able to ring-fence those by using the inclusion groups feature in Wireless Workbench, and then tuning all of the other wireless equipment to different frequencies around the in-ears. That was a really cool feature that I haven’t been able to use with other programs I’ve used for wireless coordination. And in Italy, where I’ve had RF noise problems in the past, I was able to put the Axient transmitters in high-power mode, and pad the inputs down on the Axient AXT630 Antenna Distribution system to lower the RF noise floor. Axient was really useful there, in terms of making the most of the available RF spectrum.”

“I received excellent support from both Shure in the UK and in the USA while on the tour. My Axient training was invaluable, and I really appreciated Shure’s on-line support and documentation for the systems.”

Jeremy Peters was equally pleased with the performance of the Axient and PSM1000 systems. “From a monitor engineer’s standpoint, once we took on Axient I didn’t have any problems with RF during the whole tour — and that’s pretty rare. With this kit, it didn’t happen — not once. That reliability is worth something. As a mix engineer, it’s one less thing to worry about; I can be focused on mixing and how everything sounds, without being distracted by whether the signals are even going to make it to the desk in the first place.”

“There aren’t any better wireless options out there than Axient and PSM1000 for major global tours in terms of wireless stability, RF and audio performance, remote monitoring and control options, smart recharging technology, and overall ease of use and reliability”, adds Shure Distribution UK’s RF Specialist Tuomo Tolonen. “Pharrell is another world-class artist whose adoption of these systems and positive experiences backs this up.”

Sound Image is now on board for Pharrell’s forthcoming US live dates. “We’ll be continuing to use the same gear that served us well in Europe,” confirms Bock. “In fact, I’d like to move more of the backline over to Axient as well.”

“It’s the best wireless gear on the market,” concludes Jeremy Peters. “I wouldn’t want to use anything else. My artist is happy, my FOH guy is happy, I’m happy, the band are happy… so we keep moving!”


About Shure Incorporated

Founded in 1925, Shure Incorporated ( is widely acknowledged as the world’s leading manufacturer of microphones and audio electronics. Over the years, the Company has designed and produced many high-quality professional and consumer audio products that have become legendary for performance, reliability, and value.  Shure’s diverse product line includes world-class wired microphones, wireless microphones and in-ear personal monitor systems, headphones for performers, presenters and recordists, award-winning earphones and headsets for use with MP3 players and smart phones, and top-rated phonograph cartridges for professional DJs. Today, Shure products are the first choice whenever audio performance is a top priority.

Shure Incorporated corporate headquarters is located in Niles, Illinois, in the United States. The Company has additional manufacturing facilities and regional sales offices in China, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Mexico, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Denmark, the UAE, and the United States.

About Shure Distribution UK

Shure Distribution UK (SDUK) was acquired by Shure Incorporated in early 2003 and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Shure Inc. While Shure Inc focuses on the manufacturing, marketing and distribution of Shure products, SDUK is a multibrand distributor serving its key markets via three dedicated divisions. The Retail division covers MI outlets and traditional music shops, the Pro Audio division handles broadcast, rental and touring companies, and the Systems Group serves integrators and contractors working on large-scale projects in the installed sound market. The SDUK portfolio includes products from Shure, QSC Audio, Radial, Equipson, Sound Devices, DIS, Servoreeler and Primacoustic.

About Shure Europe GmbH

Shure Europe is a wholly owned subsidiary of Shure Incorporated. Established in Eppingen/Germany the Company’s regional headquarters provides sales, marketing and technical support for its distribution and channel partners within Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

About Shure MEA JLT

Shure MEA is currently a strategic extension of Shure Europe, passively developing the market with a physical presence in the region.

We are responsible for management of the Shure distribution centers in the region, as well as providing application support, training and seminars for the complete Shure and DIS product portfolio across the Middle East and Africa.

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