So, I'm the sound guy for the performing arts at my school.

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Mike Money, Aug 23, 2005.

  1. Mike Money

    Mike Money Banned

    Mar 18, 2003
    Bakersfield California
    Avatar Speakers Endorsing Hooligan
    Plays, choir, band, student bands, etc... its my job now. sorta.

    They screwed up a lot of our schedules so a lot of us seniors didnt have a 4th period, but they didn't excuse it either... so today i got in to see my counselor, and she said drama production was open...

    i took it. i dont have to act... dont have to sing.... dont have to write stuff down.

    i play with the mixer, 5 crown power amps, and some other cool stuff that i have no clue about. oh, i play with lights too.

    so like. ya. all you mixer people out there... what makes a good sound guy?
  2. Mike, this is excellent news.

    As a lifelong muso, one thing I have found is that you get more gigs and more experience by doing all the jobs.

    As for being a good sound guy? Firstly - listen! Think about what the sound needs, more treble? more bass (usually less, heh)?

    Volume is often not the answer. A lot of players think they need to be louder, but what happens is that the guitarist turns up, then the bassist can't hear himself so he turns up, then the singer comlains because he can't hear himself etc etc... So what you end up with is a battle of the volume knob.

    Make sure you get to know how to mix the monitors well - each player can have his own mix in the monitors, without affecting the front of house overall sound.

    Again, beware of volume - loud does not equal good. At the end of the day, you are responsible for the overall sound that is reaching the audiences ears - do not be bullied by the musicians. Guitarists are notorious for wanting more volume in the mix, but if it is not necessary, politely tell them to **** off.

    Let us know how you go, mate!
  3. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    First rule: "Take your hands off the mixer and listen."

    Pete's right - subtractive mixing, subtractive EQ. If you can't hear something, it means that something else is covering it up. Turn the thing that is doing the covering down.

    Read, read, read about sound - just like TB, there's a milllion reference places on the 'net about sound.

    Effects make things "mushy" - if you can hear the reverb, it's too much!
  4. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    Are you the guy who also rolls the TV/VCR rigs into the classrooms?
  5. buzzbass

    buzzbass Shoo Shoo Retarded Flu !

    Apr 23, 2003
    cool, artsy chicks :D
  6. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Yes, but most of all, turn the "suck" knob all the way down and leave it there.
  7. SnoMan

    SnoMan Words Words Words Supporting Member

    Jan 27, 2001
    Charleston, WV

    really, now why would anyone put you in charge of anything?

    This is obviously just another nigerian royalty scam and they're just going to take all your money.
  8. Passinwind

    Passinwind I Know Nothing Supporting Member

    Someone who listens well, and can also get others to listen to him. It helps a great deal to fix problems at the source, not band-aid them later. Think of yourself as a teacher, and get smart enough to make that stand up.

    Check out for a few months, it'll help a lot.
  9. bassman314

    bassman314 I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 13, 2005
    Bay Area, CA
    LISTEN LISTEN LISTEN... Above all, use your ears.

    If your school doesn't have a set, get a set of VERY GOOD headphones... like $100+... you'll be glad you did. Big, studio types with a 1/4" connector.

    Get REALLY familiar with the controls. If you have access to it, spend some quality time with the manual. Treat the board like any other part of YOUR rig.

    Take ownership of the Sound system. It's YOUR job. It's YOUR equipment. It's YOUR booth... especially the latter. You do need a certain focused attitude once you are in "sound guy mode". Most good sound guys I know would rather piss people off and sound good, than be friendly. If someone is in YOUR booth and they aren't supposed to be, kick them out. Unless they are a fellow-tech, they will get in the way. I've helped run sound on a 60 channel board. It gets REALLY hectic with more than 2 people on it..

    A couple of tips I use:
    - Submixes. If the board has the capability to created ssub-mixes, use them. It's easier to move/mute one slider than 5..
    - Soloing. If the board has a Rude/Solo button, you can use it to isolate that channel in the headphones. GREAT for getting the right EQ on one channel, especially in a loud environment.
    - If you can swing it with the groups your run board for, try to get 2-3 rehearsals in before a gig with live sound. If you make feedback in rehearsal bo one cares. If you make feedback in a gig, people hate you for life.
    - Masking tape and sharpies are your friend. label EVERYTHING clearly.
    - For concerts, get a program in advance and mark it up with cues that you understand. Plan your resources. How many mics do I need for the sax section of the jazz band? How many solo mics do I need? Do I need a separate mic for an MC?
    - If you are using individual mics for drama or musicals, make sure you get a script WELL in advance so you can mark it up with cues so you know when to mute/unmute people. If someone is not onstage, their lav should be muted.

    In a gig, you only have a split second to do things. If you treat running the sound board with the same dedication that the musicians and actors on stage treat their craft, you will be an amazing sound guy.
  10. bassman314

    bassman314 I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 13, 2005
    Bay Area, CA
    +1 million.. the suck knob is hard to find, tho...
  11. Selta


    Feb 6, 2002
    Pacific Northwet
    Total fanboi of: Fractal Audio, AudiKinesis Cabs, Dingwall basses
    This is great advice here. Heck, all of it it. I ran the sound board at my high school events for 3 years, I DJ at a radio station (live events included), and run sound at the concerts at college. Trust your ears, and as said, GET A DAMN GOOD PAIR OF HEADPHONES, plug the straight into that mixer and listen. Get nice ones that let you listen to the headphone in one ear, and that you can fold away the other, so that you can still get the in house sound also. I use MDR-7506s from Sony, and they're absolutly great. There's better, of course, as always, but these have never failed me, and I've gotten many many compliments on my board running.
    It's not rocket science, but it's a lot of paying attention to sound and people really. Look at who ever is on stage, and in the crowd and see if anyone is giving you the evil eye.
    Not much else I can put forth here - good luck!

  12. Max

    Max Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2000
    Bakersfield, CA
    I'd add that you should make adjustments in the smallest of increments.
  13. Mike Money

    Mike Money Banned

    Mar 18, 2003
    Bakersfield California
    Avatar Speakers Endorsing Hooligan
    I played with lights today. it was fun.

    "Sea bass"....................."Sea bass!"......................."SEA BASS!"

    "oh. right. my cue."
  14. burk48237

    burk48237 Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Oak Park, MI

    Not a big fans of headphones and live sound mixing, I've seen too many board guys with their ears in the cans while the systems screaming "help me" with feedback.

    #1 Take Control, during the set up, you have to "run the show" to be sure your getting good signals back to the board. Which means soloing the instruments initially.

    #2 Munji. was a hundred percent right on "subtractive mixing". Also leave yourself some headroom, check your system at the "loudest volume your going to use" but don't "run it" at that volume, Leave yourself an "11" for that little extra push when you need it.

    #3 If your in the Back of the room mixing, remember, it's louder in front of you. It probably should be a "little quiet" back at the board to be right in the first few rows. If nobody sits up front and everyone is holding their ears thats a clue.
  15. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Ladies and gentlemen, the first time burk and I agree! :p
  16. wyliee


    Jul 6, 2003
    South Hill, WA

    Also, from time to time, bring the mains down and see how much spillage you have from the stage. This will come from the musicians/amps and monitors. One of the quickest ways to muddy up a mix is to have too much spillage from the house.

    Listen is probably the biggest recommendation I could make. I teach a small FOH training course and try to teach my students to mix in 4-D. That's Tall, Deep, Wide and True.

    Briefly explained: (1.)Tall represents the frequency spectrum 0Hz-20kHz. All instruments occupy a portion of that spectrum and have their own 'characteristic' frequencies. Learn them and learn where you can cut, but leave the characteristics of that instrument whole. Don't forget harmonic series, our ears can help fill in fundamentals when the sound system is lacking. (2.) Deep represents the usage of effects to make certain instruments seem further away. Reverb and/or delay can help you layer instruments in a dense mix. (3.) Wide is the space between your speakers if you are running a stereo mix and can feasibily pan instruments. Again, you're leaving space. (4.) True is the last element. Once you're done performing sonic surgery, make sure the guitar still sounds like a guitar and the kick still sounds like a drum and not a cardboard box.

    Walk the room and listen to how the sound changes. You'd be surprised how much a few feet can change a mix.

    Good luck!!
  17. bassman314

    bassman314 I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 13, 2005
    Bay Area, CA
    +1 on all this... I didn't mean to say that headphones should always be used. They are GREAT for isolating single groups or channels. Sometimes you'll hear a buzz, and youc an't tell if it's the system, or one of the inputs.. it'll come through if everything's muted, even... and yet it's because someone's DI isn't grounded properly... headphones find this pretty quickly..

    I've dealt with the guys who think you can run a board from the phones... yeah.. not a great idea... Afterwards "Hey the Mix was GREAT!!!" except in the real world the bass was muddy, the guitars were screaming, since the amps were miked, and you couldn't hear the vocalists at all... but hey... the CD sounded good...

    Once a gig is up and running, Headphones should only be used to occasionally check a mix-down if you are recording, or the periodic check of single channels, if you continually get "the look" from a particular performer.
  18. Passinwind

    Passinwind I Know Nothing Supporting Member

    Yeah, that was my very first lesson from a big time tech director. I actually ask people in the audience for their impressions as well, since different ears hear things differently.

    IMHO, using cans is very helpful sometimes for isolating problems in the mix. It can make it a lot easier to tell where that feedback is coming from, and it can tell you a lot about mike placement choices and the integrity of the signals you're feeding the board. I generally keep 'em off the rest of the time (ie after soundcheck), unless I'm monitoring a recording, or cueing up EFX. I could see them being really useful for theatrical work though.
  19. cheezewiz


    Mar 27, 2002
    If you have a mic back at the board, it'd be pretty funny to fart over it during a show.
  20. bassman314

    bassman314 I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 13, 2005
    Bay Area, CA
    *LOL* It's even better if the mic is just over monitors... especially in ear... the performers hear it and it's like... ***??