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Slipknot Gets Even Heavier with MILO
Des Moines, Iowa may be best known in music history as the place where the plane carrying Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper went down in 1959, the famed "day the music died." But this quiet Midwestern burg of around 200,000 is also the birthplace of one of metal's heaviest bands to date: Slipknot.
The nine men in macabre masks who make up Slipknot are entering their tenth year together, as they thunder across the U.S. and Canada on their Subliminal Verses Tour, having spent the first part of the year covering Europe and Japan. Taylor, Mich.-based Thunder Audio have been providing the audio rig for the band, based around a powerful MILO line array system from Meyer Sound. Thunder (nominated for a 2005 Parnelli Award as "Sound Company of the Year" after Thunder VP Paul Owen took home a 2004 Parnelli Award as Monitor Mixer of the Year) is carrying 24 MILO high-power curvilinear array loudspeakers, as well as four UPJ-1P compact VariO loudspeakers for occasional frontfill and stage monitor use.
"When we did our first sound check with the MILO rig, I have to say I was rather taken aback," remarked Dave "Shirt" Nicholls, Slipknot's FOH engineer. "I brought up the kick drum and, well, there it was — I didn't have to tweak it or add anything, it sounded exactly as it should. And as I brought in the rest of the mix, the same thing happened all the way across the desk. The MILO is just about the smoothest, most accurate and well-defined line array I've ever encountered. In fact, I've been running the mix virtually flat most nights, with no EQ at all."
The tour covers a wide range of venues, from mid-sized halls to large arenas and even the occasional outdoor festival, and according to Nicholls, "we haven't even had to use all the cabinets most nights, except in the very largest venues. They're just immensely powerful. I'm running flat out around 103 dB (SPL), and they haven't red-lined even once. My stated goal at this point is just to get the second fan to kick in!" (The second fan on MILO turns on only when the amplifier heatsink temperature exceeds 74 degrees Centigrade; a very unusual occurrence.)
"The MILO system is typically associated with nuance-oriented music, like jazz or acoustic instruments," adds Owen. "But we've found it to be so much more versatile than that. The MILO handles a wide range of sounds, from subtle nuance to in-your-face raw power. We've had our rigs out with Robert Plant, the White Stripes, and now with Slipknot, and the system delivers the goods every time."
Nicholls has been using Meyer Sound's MAPP Online Pro acoustical prediction program to quickly plan the system configuration before each show, and monitoring the status of the system from a laptop at the FOH mix position running Meyer Sound's RMS remote monitoring system software. "MAPP is such a time-saver," Nicholls says. "I get a clear and accurate picture of what I'm going to need for each venue right away, with no guesswork and no trial and error." Engineer Dave Bernas has been assisting with system tech duties on the tour.
On stage, monitors are handled by four UPJ-1P cabinets. Audio Technica microphones cover vocals, amp cabinets, drums and percussion. Nicholls runs the mix on a Midas XL4 console, with processing courtesy of a Waves L2 Ultramaximizer, and effects provided by TC Electronic, Eventide and Yamaha. Loudspeaker processing is handled by a pair of Meyer Sound LD-3 compensating line drivers, with dynamics by Klark-Teknik, Behringer and Empirical Labs.