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Dealing with sound person conflicts

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by Bartpop, Aug 14, 2019 at 11:26 AM.


  1. Bartpop

    Bartpop

    Mar 5, 2019
    So I wanted to post an experience because I appear to have had a fallout with a local venue and wanted to see what others would have done. I know this is a bass forum but I play a bunch of different instruments, including guitar so here goes.

    I was asked to perform as a solo opening act for a local venue that has a good crowd in the summertime. I showed up when asked to run through a quick soundcheck and ran into some behavior from the sound person that left me confused. First off, after placing a mic in front of my amp they wanted to set the channel levels by having me adjust the volume of my amp until their meters were happy, rather than adjusting the gain/level at the mixer... seriously?? Secondly, they were unable to provide a usable monitor mix due to feedback issues, which they blamed on the microphone that I had brought, even though the person running the board commented several times that they had recently upgraded their mixer and they didn't really know how to use it. Since I only had 20-30 minutes for load-in, set-up, soundcheck and they never got the issues worked out I was forced to play my entire set with virtually no monitors, which as everyone knows, sucks. After limping through a 45 minute set screaming at the top of my lungs to try to hear myself I was kind of embarrassed and pissed. (Large PA stacks way out to the sides and in front). They also neglected to un-MUTE the kick drum mic until about 20 minutes into the set, and being a solo performer, the kick is really the only low-end I have.

    After my show I apologized to the guy that hired me, because I knew the performance and the sound suffered due to sound issues. I tried to politely explain that the sound person had struggled with equipment and wasn't able to work things out during sound check. I probably questioned wether they knew what they were doing.

    Needless to say, I was never asked back to this one venue, which is only a bummer because it's popular and has a good crowd. I'm guessing it's probably because I made a point to say something to the booking guy. I still play plenty of other places and have never run into these kinds of issues... am I better off? Is it better not to say anything at all? How do you handle sound person problems?
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2019 at 12:43 PM
  2. Wasnex

    Wasnex

    Dec 25, 2011
    I think I would put this in the category of :poop: happens. 20-30 minutes to run sound check for a solo musician is incredibly excessive. That's more time than is normally spent changing over entire bands at many events. So it really does sound like the audio tech was a hack.

    Some observations. You might have been better off using the provided mic or it may not have made a difference. FYI, If the system was tuned to a specific model of mic, using a different mic can definitely cause feedback problems.

    I agree the audio tech should adjust the gain on the channel strip rather than having you adjust the level of the amp. However, is it possible the tech was basically saying your amp is too loud?

    Any time you allow people to see you sweat as a performer it damages your reputation. I realize how incredibly hard it is to perform if the sound sucks, but you have to do the best you can to pull it off and present yourself in a positive light, because you will be judged on the performance. Also anytime you start complaining or criticizing people publicly you are probably going to damage your reputation regardless of whether the criticism is warranted or not.

    It's possible the bridge is burned to this facility or at least badly damaged. Build a stellar reputation everywhere else, and maybe you will find another path that leads back to the facility, so you can have another go at it.

    Good luck!
     
  3. s0c9

    s0c9 Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2014
    Ft.Worth/Dallas
    1964 Audio artist, Fractal Audio Beta Tester
    First.. I'm also a long time sound guy and also play bass and guitar.
    Yeah, feedback to the house booking guy was probably not the best move - in retrospect.
    I'm seeing similar scenario's in my neck of the woods where the House hires a sound guy.. really a DJ who happens to also run the FOH board.
    My regular Sunday church FOH gig was displaced last year when they hired a recent community college "media" grad to do that.
    Like him, they know absolutely nothing about live sound and have no experience with it - all done in school.. if that!
    Your comments about turning up your amp to adjust channel gain levels and blaming the mic 'cus they don't know how to ring out monitors is classic. Ouch!
    It's like watching the guy have all the fader's at 0db and mix with the trim/gain controls! :rollno:
     
    musicman7722, BooDoggie and DrMole like this.
  4. Wasnex

    Wasnex

    Dec 25, 2011

    I am amazed by how many DJs I have heard explaining that you don't get full power unless you run the meters into the red. Meanwhile the sound is incredibly distorted and they seem to think it sounds great. :vomit:
     
  5. s0c9

    s0c9 Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2014
    Ft.Worth/Dallas
    1964 Audio artist, Fractal Audio Beta Tester
    When I see / hear that, I know we're screwed, say "OK" and walk away. There ain't no point in trying to educate them.
     
    getrhythm and Wasnex like this.
  6. lz4005

    lz4005

    Oct 22, 2013
    By making my rig as idiotproof as possible, which means always sending a DI to the board. Never try to mic a speaker when you're dealing with unknown sound people.
     
  7. Bartpop

    Bartpop

    Mar 5, 2019
    Yeah, I guess the 20-30 minutes was really for a complete load-in, set-up, soundcheck, which still is really generous. I was super surprised that my sound experience was so bad considering that I typically don’t get more than a minute or two to soundcheck most places I play.

    They were definitely setting levels using the amp volume. They had me adjust both up and down. I’ve always heard that it’s best to stay respectful to your sound engineer so I didn’t say anything at the time but I was seriously thinking ***!

    I chalked it up to a learning experience that sometimes the gig is going to suck and if you say anything there’s a risk that you’ll burn a bridge... right or wrong.

    I played a gig the following week as the main act and the engineer was fantastic. No issues, larger PA, same mic, etc.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2019 at 2:31 PM
    LowActionHero, Spidey2112 and Wasnex like this.
  8. arbiterusa

    arbiterusa

    Sep 24, 2015
    San Diego, CA
    Needless to say. Look, the sound guy either didn't know what he was doing, or got super pissy about your insistence on using your own mic (that happens! I never do it.) But you cannot badmouth the staff at any venue, even the bar back, and expect to come back.

    I mention the bar back - the lowest ranking venue job that exists - for a reason. My old guitar player ensured that we'd never play again at the biggest venue in the town in which we were residing at the time. They loved us and we packed it consistently for every one of our shows. And then our guitar player got into a pissing match with the bar back, over what I still don't know to this day, and the next time I called to book us in they told us we were not welcome there again. Ever.

    As to how to deal, I don't say anything as it will never help.
     
    s0c9 and Wasnex like this.
  9. Bartpop

    Bartpop

    Mar 5, 2019
    Yeah, I think you’re probably right.

    I once got squeezed by a double booking, which wasn’t discovered until I showed up for the gig. I never made a big deal out of it because I didn’t travel far and the other act was 200 miles from home but they still never asked me back because the owner had a hard time admitting that they double booked.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2019 at 3:06 PM
  10. s0c9

    s0c9 Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2014
    Ft.Worth/Dallas
    1964 Audio artist, Fractal Audio Beta Tester
    Damn, I LOVE it when singers bring their own mic. That means mine (if I'm providing) don't get additional wear and tear and yet another round of disinfectants!
    While there are (some marked) differences between vocal mics, unless you are bringing a $20 mic (I won't mention brands) - which I WILL tactfully suggest replacing with one of the standard mics I carry (Bet58, E835, etc.) - I'm fine with whatever you put up there. I can make it work. :)

    PS: Caveat.. but not if it has a permanently attached 1/8" or USB connection!
     
    BwanaDust, WayneP, zon5string and 3 others like this.
  11. arbiterusa

    arbiterusa

    Sep 24, 2015
    San Diego, CA
    If I'm the sound guy, I cry for joy when they bring their own mics, unless they're garbage as you note. But you know how quite a few guys/venues are - their way or the highway. So as a performer, I just sit there and let them do their thing. If they ask, I will volunteer - but ONLY if they ask.
     
    s0c9 likes this.
  12. s0c9

    s0c9 Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2014
    Ft.Worth/Dallas
    1964 Audio artist, Fractal Audio Beta Tester
    That's the difference between amateurs and pro's on BOTH SIDES of the stage.
    It's a symbiotic relationship that either side can crater.
    I have too much pride in what I do, to either sound like crap or suffice with mixing a band to sound like crap! Can't do either!
     
    BooDoggie likes this.
  13. turcmic

    turcmic

    Jul 30, 2006
    Montreal, QC
    The booking guy was probably related to the guy who happened to be behind the board (can’t call this guy a sound man)...

    This guy is creating its own (bad) reputation anyway by doing all the wrong stuff. Reminds me of a tech who forced us to have the mic cable loose on the mic stand (instead of looping around the stand) because of radio interferences...

    Don’t worry, keep the low end by playing the right notes and everything will be fine.
     
    BooDoggie likes this.
  14. s0c9

    s0c9 Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2014
    Ft.Worth/Dallas
    1964 Audio artist, Fractal Audio Beta Tester
    Oh my! That's a new one to me!! :rollno::rollno::rollno:
     
    BooDoggie and turcmic like this.
  15. Wasnex

    Wasnex

    Dec 25, 2011

    I'm in the camp that generally prefers using one model of mic on all vocalist. The idea is all mics will share the same characteristic feedback frequencies, so less carving with the EQs is necessary to get good gain before feedback.

    Normally the audio tech will ring the system before the house is open; and IMHO this should be done when no one else is in the room due to the noise hazard it presents. I wear ear protection when I ring the system.

    If everyone has a separate monitor mix and there is plenty of gain before feedback with the mains, then switching in a random quality mic is probably no big deal. But tuning a monitor for feedback with a room full of people and the talent on stage is not really cool. So if the mic does not work with the monitor and is constantly feedback at low gain levels, maybe it would be best to swap back to the provided mic. Also IMHO, if the mains are already on the edge of feeding back, it's a really bad idea to swap in a random mic.

    So while I would be surprised if a vocalist brings a mic, I would actually prefer they use what is provided. Course I am also one of those heretics who mixes off the trims until I get the board dialed in. I think I have a rationale reason and I never have problems with clipping or an unacceptable S/N ratio (So :spit:) :smug:.
     
  16. blastoff99

    blastoff99 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Dec 17, 2011
    SW WA, USA

    That's a good one! I would think, though, that this could be easily offset by having the FOH tech wear a tinfoil hat......
     
  17. s0c9

    s0c9 Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2014
    Ft.Worth/Dallas
    1964 Audio artist, Fractal Audio Beta Tester
    Sorry... I should have qualified it by saying solo acts.. I totally agree with your statements. If I've got 3 vocalists, I would prefer the same mics on all.
     
    Wasnex likes this.
  18. I think Was nailed it.... Hack...
    If one can't ring it out, there are even boxen to go in the rack to thump the squirrels for you when they get out of hand... Then there are digital boards with cool stuff.......
     
  19. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    1) What kind of vocal mic did you have?

    2) What kind of guitar rig did you have?

    3) What kind of board (if you know)?

    4) What kind of monitors?

    I'm pretty sure the guy's an idiot. But more details will confirm.
     
    MynameisMe and BooDoggie like this.
  20. Blame it on the mic is a good one... What mic?
    Boards have knobs and such.... Too crispy, too this, too that, there's knobs...
     

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