- by Debi Moen
HOUSTON - For drummer Danny Patterson, Sensaphonics 3D AARO is the gigging musician’s optimal in-ear solution for a wide range of monitoring challenges. He recently moved up to the 3D AARO when visiting NAMM in January and being able to order it on the spot after a demo.
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Whether he’s playing in a local bar, out on tour, or in church, Houston-based drummer Danny Patterson depends on his Sensaphonics 3D AARO in-ears with Active Ambient technology.
“I just moved up to the 3D recently,” he notes. “In January, I made my first trip to the NAMM Show and stopped by the Sensaphonics booth. They gave me a demo of the 3D AARO, and I could tell immediately how many problems it could solve for me in the different bands I play in. The key for me was the Full Ambient switch, which completely eliminates having to take the in-ears out. I ordered them on the spot.”
Like countless other professional musicians, Patterson regularly works on several projects. “Last year, I played drums and percussion in 17 different bands, some regular, some one-offs, and the occasional tour,” he notes. “It forces me to adjust to a lot of different playing styles, which keeps me growing and improving all the time. It’s an approach based on the careers of a couple of drummers I really admire – Kenny Aronoff and Mark Schulman.”
Currently, Patterson works with six Houston area groups, including Mystery Loves Company, a chamber rock ensemble that plays originals. He also gigs with cover bands Bristol Fashion (80s rock/pop) and Johnny & The Spinsations (50s and 60s rock’n’roll), and plays most Sundays at Grace Family Church in suburban Spring, TX. When singer-songwriter William Florian (ex-New Christie Minstrels) tours Texas, Patterson gets the call. His 3D AARO in-ears help him to adapt smoothly to whatever conditions he might encounter.
“Every group is different. When I’m the only one wearing in-ears and using a click track, the 3D is ideal,” says Patterson. “Before I had them, I would have to take out my in-ears between songs. Now I have Full Ambient mode, which totally puts an end to that. Just flip a switch on the bodypack and I’m good to go. It lets me stay focused on my playing.”
Another situation where Patterson finds the 3D AARO helpful is in loud venues without a separate monitor feed. “One club in particular is used to drummers wanting massive monitor volume, so they’ve got a huge subwoofer about two feet from my head,” he explains. “It’s so loud; I used to wear earplugs there. Now I just use my 3D AARO, but not connected to any kind of monitor input. Using it that way lets me actually turn down the entire room – kind of like earplugs with a volume control, but high fidelity. It’s a life saver.”
Patterson has noticed another big advantage of the 3D is the improved isolation compared to his previous IEMs. “With the new molds, I noticed all my level settings have gotten lower,” he reports. “Using the Aviom system at my church, my master volume setting has changed from about 11 o’clock to 9 o’clock. With Bristol Fashion, I do all my own monitor mixing on an iPad, and I’ve dropped my volume about four or five notches, so the extra isolation really does help. Plus, there’s the comfort level of the soft molds. I can wear them all night.”
Hearing health is a concern for most musicians, and Danny Patterson is no exception. “I love the fact that Sensaphonics has its own audiologists. I learned a lot from them, especially Dr. Heather, who did my impressions at NAMM,” he says. “I was definitely not too smart about my hearing when I was younger. But I did get tested when I got my first custom molds, which I definitely recommend.”
Asked about his first NAMM Show, Patterson says, “It was great to be able to try out the latest gear, and to talk with the manufacturers that make it. But the thing I’ll remember is demoing the 3D AARO and being able to order it on the spot. That alone made it worth the trip.”
With its patented Active Ambient technology, Sensaphonics 3D AARO uses miniature microphones embedded in the earpieces to add controlled natural stage ambience to the monitor mix with both earphones in place. Available in custom-fit soft silicone or new 3D-U universal-fit earpieces, 3D AARO provides both the safety of full isolation and high-impact monitor mix that musicians need.