NEW YORK, NY—One of the last major dividing lines between “old school” and modern touring is the use of digital audio. Insistence on an analog desk is a mark of commitment, denoted by a forbidding “NO DIGITAL DESK” notation on the band’s rider. Defined by a devotion to audio purity, the sound engineers for many of these bands rely on Midas mixing consoles.
Megadeth’s FOH engineer, Doug Short, with the band’s new Midas PRO6 digital desk.
“Nothing but a Midas will do,” declares Doug Short, FOH engineer for Megadeth. “I’ve tried just about every digital console on the market, and they just don’t measure up sonically.” So why, then, did Short opt for a Midas PRO6 digital desk for the first leg of the band’s promotional tour for the new “Endgame” album?
“I had done some training on Midas digital up in Minnesota over a year ago. But when Megadeth started up, my bid list required a Midas XL4 at front of house,” relates Short. “The plan was to carry control gear from Thunder Audio – consoles and processing. Basically, Paul Owen, Thunder Audio principal, saw my bid list, called me and tempted me to give the PRO6 a shot. I figured a five-week promotional tour was the perfect opportunity. As Paul says, ‘Hey, instead of taking out 1168 pounds of XL4, why not give the PRO6 a shot?’ I mean, it is a Midas, right?”
The final step was to complete Doug Short’s basic training on the new desk. “Erik Rogers from Thunder was the guy who made it happen,” he notes. “With no production rehearsal and a new desk, I was out of my comfort zone. Erik literally drove out in his own car, set up the desk for me, and stayed with me for the first three gigs. Thunder Audio definitely went above and beyond the call of duty to make this happen. I can’t say enough good things about those guys.”
Megadeth uses 38 inputs, 18 of which are drums. Short utilizes all ten of the console’s VCA splits, divided as follows: Shawn Drover’s drums are split into kick drums, snare, and toms. Guitarists Dave Mustaine and Chris Broderick each get one VCA, as does James LoMenzo’s bass. Two more VCA groups are dedicated to lead and backing vocals, and the final two handle effects returns and playback. Two POP Groups are also in use, one for Drover’s cymbals and the other for house playback. “Megadeth is very straightforward, so in terms of setup, it’s not much of a challenge for the desk. Which was perfect for me to get comfortable with it,” says Short. “Using all ten VCAs and two POP Groups, everything I needed was at my fingertips.”
Asked how the band reacted to having a digital console at FOH, Short replies, “Before the first show, Dave Mustaine came out, saw the console and said, ‘It sure looks pretty. Hope it sounds good, too.’ So he was aware. And every night, I would give him a live 2-track mix of the show that we listen to for reference, and he never said a thing. With Dave, that’s practically an endorsement.”