When Metallica stopped in New England on its WorldWired tour, the brand’s rhythm guitar player James Hetfield walked onto the stage at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., and rhetorically asked the sold-out crowd, “Do you like heavy music?” Helping the band deliver that “heaviness” this summer is “Big Mick” Hughes, Metallica’s legendary front of house (FOH) engineer, alongside Meyer Sound.
Working with the Berkeley, Calif.-based audio company, Hughes and the band hit the road with a new sonic weapon to add to Hughes’ audio arsenal: Meyer Sound’s new VLFC subwoofer.
At the heart of Metallica’s live sound is Meyer’s LEO family of sound reinforcement products. Hughes relies on LEO to reproduce theHall of Fame band’s sound accurately to ensure its live sound delivers the transparency and power to fully represent Metallica’s signature heaviness.
“I just love the clarity of LEO,” says Hughes. “It’s a very powerful box that produces a fantastic guitar and vocal sound. Also, having a two-way system with the crossover point down where it is, keeps everything smooth and sweet in the mid highs.”
Providing the tight bottom end that fans expect is Meyer’s new VLFC subwoofer as well as its 1100-LFC subwoofers.
Meyer Sound VLFC Subwoofers Fuels Metallica Bottom End Chug
Debuting on Metallica’s 2017 tour, Meyer’s very low frequency control element is engineered to reproduce a single octave — 14Hz to 32Hz. On the tour, Hughes is employing a pair of end-fire arrays that each incorporate 21 VLFC cabinets.
“These [new] subs are called the VLFCs and they play super low,” says Hughes. “You will hear them with the explosions we do, and the surround sound we do for a song called “One.”
Hughes says the VLFCs are used to recreate the realism of explosions.
“When they do the pyro for songs like ‘One,’ the VLFC arrays complete the visual effect,” he notes. “You have the flash of light and then you get the concussion of the massive subsonic wave. It moves a lot of air. You can definitely feel it.”
Picking up with the VLFCs leave off, Hughes is using 85 Meyer Sound 1100-LFC low-frequency control units that operate from 28Hz to 90Hz.
Taking a closer look at the Meyer system beyond the low-frequency enclosures, there are four main hang arrays that feature 18 LEO line array loudspeakers, as well as three delay towers that feature LYON-M main speakers located on top of LYON-W wide coverage speakers.
Meyer Sound says the system also employs 20 Leopard speakers positioned across the stage that are used as fills, and another 12 LEOPARD speakers located on the ground at the delay towers. Miscellaneous UPQ-1P loudspeakers are used to complete the system.
Hughes emphasizes the system is specifically designed for Metallica.
Galileo Galaxy Networked Platform Supports the Music
The backbone of the system is Meyer Sound’s Galileo Galaxy platform.
For the 2017 Metallica tour, Meyer Sound says this system represents the largest implementation of the Galileo Galaxy architecture to date.
Making up the Galileo Galaxy infrastructure is a total of 14 Galaxy frames and 10 Extreme Networks Summit X440 series switchers that are linked via a redundant fiber-optic network running the IEEE Audio Video Bridging (AVB) standard.
Meyer Sound points out the Galaxy and the switches are Avnu certified to comply with AVB standards.
Other Equipment on Tour with Metallica
Other equipment used to deliver Metallica’s signature sound include Hughes’ preferred console, the Midas XL8, as well as outboard gear such as a TC Electronic D2 delay, a Korg DRV 3000 (used for “Master of Puppets”), a BBE Sonic Maximizer (for drummer Lars Ulrich’s toms), and a 10EaZy level monitoring system.
Also new for the 2017 tour is the use of Fractal Audio Systems processors, which replace Hetfield and lead guitar player Kirk Hammett’s Mesa Boogie and Randall amplifiers.
Hughes adds the use of the Fractal Audio Systems processors took him a little time to get used to, but after analyzing the products he says they work well.
“At first [when the Fractal Audio products were introduced to the tour] I was like well, I’ve spent 25 years on the road with this band building up a guitar sound with different mic choices and different mic placements, and all of a sudden it’s like we need to try this new Fractal … I was like O.K.,” says Hughes. “The reality was we didn’t lose anything [in terms of guitar tone]; we enhanced the sound.”