Metallica's longtime FOH engineer "Big Mick" Hughes is not one to shy from innovation, and continues to achieve firsts more than 30 years into his career with the band. For the first time, Metallica used an in-the-round Meyer Sound LEO Family loudspeaker system with 1100-LFC low frequency control elements in a TM Array configuration when the band inaugurated the 20,000-capacity Videotron Centre in Quebec City, Canada.
"Never before have I heard that amount of low end—with such tightness—when we played in the round," reports Hughes. "The TM Array works fantastically well. The 1100-LFCs just have an ungodly amount of power.
"Working in the round, you have to get a grip on what you're doing—fortunately, LEO is very controlled at all frequencies," continues Hughes. "You're in the near field of one part of the PA, but you can have problems with room ambience generated by all the other array elements going off in other directions. LEO makes it completely manageable. With its phase coherence, you get much better penetration into the room, and you don't get low-mid frequencies spreading out to the back and sides. And because LEO is so well focused, there's more energy going where you want it, which also makes it better for the band on stage."
The TM Array configuration comprised 40 1100-LFC elements configured in four arrays suspended directly over Lars Ulrich's drum kit to spread a uniform, donut-shaped pattern of low-end frequencies throughout the seating area.
The Videotron Centre main arrays comprised 72 LEO-M line array loudspeakers for the long ends of the arena and 72 LYON-W wide-coverage line array loudspeakers for the shorter side throws, while downfills for the end hangs were four-each LYON-M and LYON-W loudspeakers. Eight MICA and 16 M'elodie line array loudspeakers provided front fill, four JM-1P arrayable loudspeakers were suspended for side down fill, and 48 700-HP subwoofers covered the lower seating area. A Galileo Callisto loudspeaker management system with two Galileo 616 AES and 10 Galileo Callisto 616 array processors provided system drive and alignment.
The band also performed two nights earlier at the Colisée Pepsi—the last show ever in the aging venue—where most of the same system components were deployed in an end-stage configuration. All systems were provided by Montreal-based Solotech.
Metallica tours with its own stage monitoring system, which typically includes as many as 36 Meyer Sound MJF-210 stage monitors.
"The coverage was amazingly even, due in large part to the way LEO and LYON match up in terms of their patterns," says Lee Moro, senior project director at Solotech. "And the power lets you hit the spot with all the level you need. The punch and clarity were all there."
Hughes mixed the shows on a Midas XL8 digital console, with Hughes giving special commendation to the DPA d:vote 4099 microphones on the drums. Vocal mics were the Shure Super 55 supercardioid dynamic models favored by the band for their vintage look.