When Billy Joel, one of pop music’s all-time greatest composers and performers, heads out on tour, Audio-Technica microphones assure the technical talent supporting him that each note sung by Joel rings clear and true. Joel’s FOH engineer, Brian Ruggles, and monitor engineer, Mike Pirich — both of whom have worked with Joel for years — are united in their praise of the performance of A-T microphones.
Photo Caption: Shown with Audio-Technica’s AEW-T5400 microphone is Billy Joel’s monitor engineer, Mike Pirich, and FOH engineer, Brian Ruggles (left to right). Photo by Martin Dworakowski. (This photo is property of Martin Dworakowski and may be used by the press only for purpose of one time reproduction. Unauthorized use or alteration of this image is strictly prohibited.)
Joel uses Audio-Technica’s acclaimed Artist Elite® AE5400 Cardioid Condenser Microphone for main vocals on stage in both wired and wireless versions. The remarkable new Audio-Technica AE2500 Dual-element Kick-drum Microphone, which combines condenser and dynamic capsules within a single housing, is employed on drummer Liberty DiVito’s kick drum.
Mike Pirich, who has mixed monitors for Billy Joel for five years, says of the AE5400, “The clarity and frequency response of that microphone are amazing, as is the gain-before-feedback performance. With other microphones, you have to EQ them to death to get sufficient clarity in a monitor mix, especially in arena-type situations. But the AE5400 I barely need to touch. It really caters to Billy’s voice, and contributes to performances by assuring he can always hear himself in any stage situation.” Pirich also finds the AE2500 to be a winner. “It’s everything you ever wanted in a kick drum microphone,” he comments. “I found that I just use the condenser output side of the mic in the monitor mixes, with no gates and very little processing. It’s really an amazing microphone.”
Brian Ruggles, long-time FOH mixer for Joel, is particularly complementary of the AE5400, Joel’s vocal microphone. “We use both the wired and the wireless version of the AE5400, and the first time I heard the wireless version, it sounded just as good as the wired,” he says. “That says a lot about a wireless microphone. That kind of consistency lets us make a very seamless transition between when Billy’s singing from the piano using the hard-wired AE5400 and when he moves around the stage with the wireless.” Another key point Ruggles makes about the AE5400 is that it operates well in all types of applications, from concert to broadcast to Broadway. “We use the same microphone in concert, then use it for television broadcasts, and it’s also the very same microphone that Michael Cavanaugh uses in the Broadway show Movin’ Out, which is based on Billy’s music,” he notes. Consistently outstanding performance has apparently become an integral part of Billy Joel’s music: Movin’ Out won two Tony Awards last season, for Best Orchestration in a Musical and Best Choreography, and Ruggles is the sound designer for the show. “They’re just great microphones,” he reaffirms.