Las Vegas (May 14, 2012)—Recycled Percussion, the highest non-vocal finalists ever on America's Got Talent, perform six shows a week at the Tropicana Las Vegas Theater, with all the act’s stick work heard via Audix microphones.
Throughout the show, percussionists Justin Spencer and Ryan Vezina, DJ Todd Griffin and guitarist Matt Bowman proceed to use, misuse and abuse pretty much anything one can find at hardware stores, junk yards and landfills. Oh, and a chainsaw.
Nearly 60 Audix mics have been selected to sonically capture the show. "The Audix D6 and D4 crushed the sound of the other microphones we were using and trying," says Spencer; group founder and sound designer. "We have over 20 plastic barrels that we play. We need five dollar 22-gallon buckets from WalMart to sound like $2,000 kick drums, and Audix, with some plate reverb, is the choice for us."
Spencer and Vezina have nearly matching collections of junk, referred to as 'Blue Kit' and 'Red Kit'. Each one features three 22-gallon plastic tubs, snares and various 'cymbals'. D6s and D4s handle the drums, with overhead i5s to cover the rest of the pile.
A full 20 i5s are used for all the snares and cymbals (and oxygen tanks, hubcaps, fire extinguishers, toasters, car mufflers etc.) OM7s are used for vocals and body percussion, and 18 Audix mics alone are used for 'The Wall' of four drum kits; D2s, D4s, D6s and i5s. Another six D6s and four i5s cover The Van—a vehicle that splits open to reveal more percussive pyrotechnics. Additional D4s and D6s cover moving drums as necessary.
"We don't play our kick (plastic tub) drums with pedals," explains Spencer. Everything is played with sticks and we sometimes treat the drums like hi-hats, so we need that full in-your-chest sound, but with a crisp 'snap' and no flabby over-hang. The D6 is singlehandedly the best for this."
"Shifting from some of the other well-known kick-drum microphones out there to the Audix D6 was just a drastic reduction of the EQ needed at the console," said Tropicana front of house mixer Jeffrey James (JJ). "The plastics tubs that the guys use have an inherent pitch and tone to them, depending on how they are (duct) taped. Other kick drum mics weren't able to capture that tone. The Audix D6s make them sound like drums."
"The 22-gallon plastic tubs are mounted to upside down folding metal chairs," continues JJ. "The tubs are pushed down over the chair legs and mic-mounts clamped to the horizontal chair supports place the D6s and D4s pretty much in the inside center of the buckets".
JJ, who also mixes Dancing with the Stars, is kept pretty busy during a typical Recycled Percussion performance, mixing both front of house and monitors. "I sub-group 'The Wall', 'The Van' and Justin and Ryan's kits," he explains. "I have six monitor zones going up and down to keep on-stage volume under control. Again, the Audix mics keep me from having to pay constant attention to EQ."
Oh, and the chainsaw? "You mic it from a respectful distance with an overhead i5," said JJ.