(Audio-Technica | Posted 2009-01-22)
WINTER NAMM SHOW, ANAHEIM, CA, January 15, 2009 — “Big Mick” Hughes’ tenure as front-of-house (FOH) engineer for legendary heavy metal phenomenon Metallica is almost as long as the band’s existence. “This is my 25th year. I was 25 or 26 when I started with the guys, and I’m going on 51 in a minute,” recalls Hughes. Although the band has evolved and grown, a key to its longevity is unarguably its constant dedication to hard-rocking heavy metal, showcased brilliantly on the 2008 smash album Death Magnetic (Warner Bros.). Another constant for the band has been Hughes’ selection of Audio-Technica as the microphones of choice for Metallica’s live stage setup, the most recent incarnation of which is crisscrossing the United States, soon to be followed by Europe, as the Death Magnetic World Tour.
“I’ve been using Audio-Technica for years, because of the way A-T mics sound. I can’t really imagine using anything else,” Hughes commented. “They sound great and have tremendous reliability. I can’t remember the last time we actually changed a microphone because it was bad. That just doesn’t happen, which is really pretty remarkable.”
Hughes has selected a wide variety of A-T mics for the current tour, including the ATM350 Cardioid Condenser Clip-on Microphone for toms and overheads, AE2500 Dual-element Cardioid Instrument Microphone for guitar cabinets, wired and wireless versions of the AE5400 Cardioid Condenser Handheld Microphone for vocals, ATM650 Hypercardioid Dynamic Instrument Microphone for snare and dual AT4050 Multi-pattern Condenser Microphones in a stereo configuration on guitar cabinets.
Hughes points out how the band’s unique stage setup requires a number of dependable vocal mic units, a role more than fulfilled by the AE5400. “We’re in the round, so there are eight vocal positions around the stage, all wired AE5400’s. And then we have a few wireless 5400’s that we drop in and out for different songs, depending on if they’re playing acoustic guitars or something like that. And the wired and wireless all sound exactly the same, making the vocal mix, which I do in subgroups, relatively simple and straightforward for me.”
Hughes is likewise vocal in his praise of Audio-Technica’s Dual-element AE2500: “The AE2500 is absolutely stunning on guitar cabinets. When I first tried the 2500, I listened to each element individually and said, ‘that’s not very big.’ But when I combined the two (dynamic and condenser), it’s absolutely crushing. The summation of the two is so much more than the individual elements — it’s bizarre. I use the 2500 with flat EQ and only high and low pass filters employed. It’s a very, very big sound. We’ve used the 2500 on cabs for a long time — you just know what works, and why change a winning combination?”
Photo Caption: Pictured from L-R: Metallica’s FOH Engineer “Big” Mick Hughes, Audio-Technica Marketing Manager Gary Boss and Metallica’s Monitor Engineer Paul Owen, at a recent stop on the band’s Death Magnetic World Tour. (This photo is the property of Audio-Technica and may be used by the press only for the purpose of one-time reproduction. Unauthorized use, alteration or reproduction of this photograph is strictly prohibited.)