As the headliner on Gigantour 2006, Megadeth has been performing in North America, Japan and Australia, with sound companies Thunder Audio, Clair Bros. and Johnston Audio Services, respectively. Mix caught up with FOH engineer Nigel Paul (in red jacket) as the tour wrapped up.
What kind of board are you using?
On all legs of the tour, I was using a Midas XL4, each with a minimum of four stereo modules. There are 39 inputs at FOH from the band, plus effects returns, CD inputs, et cetera.
What is your mixing approach?
I'm ultimately responsible to the artists for the sound of their concerts. For that reason, I request the tools that I believe will best help me achieve the results we're both looking for. Sometimes a degree of compromise is called for.
While every artist is unique, and from a mixing standpoint presents different challenges, I approach mixing for Megadeth the same way I approach mixing any of the other artists I work with [Dream Theater, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Cheap Trick, Yellow-jackets], regardless of the musical genre. I always do my homework and come into the project well prepared, having listened to, lived with and thoroughly learned the material. This typically involves listening to the prospective tour material as it's represented on the artist's albums, and the live performance may vary in any number of weird, wonderful, inspired, unexpected and dangerous ways. Yet the basic building blocks are the same.
There will always be reactive elements, because no two performances are ever identical, and the technical and environmental variables are endless, but the more one can anticipate and pre-position oneself from a musical and mixing perspective, the more polished, mature and true the final product is likely to be. Then again, there's always the old piece of two-by-four!
Additional audio gear:
P.A. system: Meyer Sound MILO (North America), Clair Bros. i4 (Japan) and JBL V-DOSC (Australia). "Each of those companies provided us with first-class equipment, crews and support, and were a pleasure to work with," enthuses Paul. "I'd like to express my thanks to, and respect for, the excellent systems engineers I've had the privilege of working with on this tour, namely Keith Jex from Thunder Audio, Masae Nishimura from Clair Bros. Japan and Doug Pringle from Johnston Audio Services."
Effects: TC Electronic D-Two or TC 2290; M2000 or Eventide Eclipse for pitch-shifting; 6000, Lexicon 960L or Lexicon 480L; M3000 or 4000, or Lexicon 300 (for a third reverb, if the other reverb unit has only two analog engines).
Compressors: Avalon Vt737sp linked to a BSS Audio 901 MkII (preamping and frequency-conscious compression of the lead vocal). two 4-channel Summit DCL-200s for guitars, Tube-Tech CL-1B or Empirical Labs EL-8 Distressor for bass DI, four 8-channel XTA C2 for background/back-up vocal channels, bass mic, snare group and overhead groups.
Gates: six 12-channel XTA G2 or Aphex 622.
Playback/Record: professional-quality CD player, TC Electronic Finalizer Express, professional-quality CD recorder.