With numerous GRAMMY, Dove and Billboard awards and nominations, Newsboys have proven to be some of Christian rock’s most enduring performers. Since the band’s founding in Australia in 1985, Newsboys have released 14 studio albums and have been one of the most popular Christian music artists of the past two decades.
Newsboys have now chosen to partner with microphones and wireless systems from Audio-Technica, a leading innovator in transducer technology.
Newsboys FOH mixer John O’Neal says the pairing of the band and A-T microphones is a perfect connection. “We are pretty particular about sound, right down to the microphones in our workbox,” says FOH mixer John O’Neal, who has mixed Newsboys for nine years. “[Monitor engineer] Jeff Nolte and I began discussing our desire for some new microphones.”
“Primarily, we wanted to go in a different direction with our drum kit—we had been using the same cardioid dynamic instrument mics on our toms and snare drum for the last six or seven years. The old mics weren’t broken, so it wasn’t like we had to make a change. We simply wanted better.”
That’s what they got with Audio-Technica microphones, and it transformed the sound of their drum kit. “Not only did we end up with a different approach on our toms, but also the snare drum and all of the cymbals as well,” says O’Neal.
O’Neal and Nolte sought the big, open sound of a large diaphragm mic on the toms and found it with the AT4040 Cardioid Condenser Microphone. “The AT4040 has become our choice on the three floor toms, says O’Neal. Its large diaphragm and extremely flat response have really enabled us to capture the real sound of the larger drums in our kit. We ended up with the AE3000 Cardioid Condenser Instrument Microphone on the 12-inch rack tom, and it does a fabulous job on the smallest drum we have.”
Then came the rest of the kit. “We’re using a pair of ATM650 Hypercardioid Dynamic Instrument Microphones for our snare top and bottom, which are much warmer and fuller that what we’d had before,” O’Neal comments. “And we are using the AT4041 Cardioid Condenser Microphone on the hi-hat and the ATM450 Cardioid Condenser Instrument Microphone under the cymbals instead of as overheads. We do that for aesthetics, to keep the profile of the kit nice and low. The A-T mics keep the kit looking as good as it sounds. I have never heard my cymbals so pure in all the years I have been doing this, and the ATM450 side address is so small, that I can get it in under the cymbals, allowing them to virtually disappear.”
Audio-Technica microphones delivered so well on the kit that vocalist Michael Tait is now using the AE5400 Cardioid Condenser Handheld Microphone and its wireless counterpart, the AEW-T5400a handheld transmitter with the 5000 Series UHF Wireless System, for lead vocals. “The AE5400 as our vocal mic choice has been probably as big a paradigm shift in the way the band sounds live as any drum mics we have started using.” says O’Neal. “The instant we heard it, we all knew we had found something very special. Any time you can take the large diaphragm from a legendary studio condenser and put it in a handheld device, you know you are in a good starting point. And the 5400 also works extremely well in front of the P.A., where Michael spends a great deal of time. He’s also been very pleased with his vocal sound in his in-ear monitors ever since he started using the 5400.”
O’Neal continues, “Newsboys has always been about getting the best sounds we can get, and in this day and age, so many sounds that you hear at a concert are exactly the same as the sounds that you hear on the record, due to the advent of digital mixing, plug-ins and cross platform portability with audio files used for playback. We have found that by switching over to the Audio-Technica microphones, we have been able to blur the lines between the live instruments and vocals on stage and the computer/studio-derived sounds that are prevalent in our live show. This has given us a great advantage and head start on our quest for the perfect mix.”