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Sound guy

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Josh Ryan, Apr 23, 2001.

  1. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    The absolute worst thing at a gig is a soundguy who is an 80's relic and wants to have super loud vocals, then guitar, snare, bass drum, toms, and last and certainly least, bass. I hate fighting with these idiots. We are not poison, we are not Ratt, we are not quiet riot, please give us a balanced sound. The only solution my band has been able to come up with is to have a person or two that we trust at every show to tell us what the mix is like and, when we find a lame soundguy, set down the rules with an iron fist. When I run sound I try to remember that it's the band's sound, not mine. Have you all experienced this.
  2. Basswou


    Apr 15, 2001
    yes the same here ! I know 1 guy in the area and he turns the volume so hard until he can feel his balls shake ! He does it every time ! No way you can work with this guys , the best thing is to bring your own men along .
  3. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    In defense of those in my profession, I must make the remark that not ALL "sound guys" are like this. Many of us know what we're doing.

    It's funny, because, when we do a GOOD job, we hear nothing. It's expected. But as soon as something's out of line, or the lead singer has too much 1.5k in his monitor mix, we're the whipping boy for everything that goes wrong during the gig.

    Oh, and another thing, you can't make lemonade out of p*ss, so if you sound bad, first check the source.

    This isn't to attack either of the first two posters, I'm just venting. It's been a bad week.
  4. I'm sorry SuperDuck, but I estimate that 75% of the shows I see have bad sound. I'm quite sure that you, being a bassplayer (I'm serious) are a cut above the rest. It's my experience that bassplayers make good soundmen, as a general rule. When I go to a show with bad sound, I try to make it a point to go stand near, or next to, the desk, so I can hear what the engineer is hearing. On this basis, I have come to the conclusion that the above-mentioned 75% are f*****g idiots. I totally agree that you cannot make a silk purse out of a sows ear, but my conclusion is based on the fact that, if I can hear a problem, and I know what needs to be tweaked in order to resolve it, why cant the "engineer" hear it? Even the Rolling Stones, who can afford the best gear and technicians in the world, had a lousy bass mix, all sub and no mids. Why? My hearing is OK, except over 13khz, so I assume I'm hearing what these so-called "engineers" are hearing.
    Sorry for the rant, but this is my pet peeve!
  5. I'm gonna chip in and say that we're not all incompetent twits too. I think Marty may have something about bass players. I think bass players in general have less ego problems and a unique take on the sound of a band, from our unique position in a band. I would agree that a lot of the shows that I've been to sounded pretty bad. Of course, there are a lot of factors involved. Stuff like: horrible room, inadequate gear, guitar player to f#$*in' loud, drummer hitting china cymbal constantly, crappy instruments, crappy bands etc etc. But when the guy mixing the band is mixing on my flown EAW rig, in a room I've mixed in a million times with a great band and it sounds crap........ My biggest complaint tends to be with bass guitar, maybe that's a function of me being a bassist. It seems to me that a lot of soundguys don't know how to get a bass sound. Of course it can be pretty difficult in an arena with acoustics from hell. (rolling some of that low end helps) Of course I've seen guys make a complete bollocks of sound outside on a state of the art rig. BOO. These bands have probably hired one of their buddies who knows nothing to mix sound. Some guys touring with some very large acts are frighteningly incompetent. We do have to put up with a lot of crap though, which is something for everybody to think on. I'll bend over backwards to help someone out, but treat me like an inferior and I'll make your life a living hell. Now this doesn't happen to me very often, so I must be doing something right. The band and soundguy have to have good communication on an even level for it to work properly. So there are two sides here (as with anything) Anyone who's had bad experiences, I feel your pain, I've been there. But eventually you will find someone who does it right and there's no better feeling than getting on stage and knowing it sounds killer out front.

    PS In the defense of loud vocals. In most situations I give the vocals an extra boost, because that's all most of the punters care about. People want to hear the words, that's the way it is. Now I'm not advocating having the vocals burying everything else either, there's a very delicate balance.
  6. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    Spacegoat... y-you're a sound guy too?? I don't feel so alone anymore....
  7. MikeyD


    Sep 9, 2000
    I agree with you guys, but I'll go a bit further than Marty. I'd say only about 10% (yes ten percent!) of the live sound mixes I've heard actually sound *good* to me. I have seen more bad sound systems/operations than I care to think of (around New England, USA, anyway). And I know quite a bit about audio, sound systems, and acoustics - as well as what the performer should sound like. My conclusion is: at least 75% of the time, the sound guys don't do a good job. When I hear the relatively few good ones, it's wonderful and - as mentioned - often underappreciated by most. Yes, the sound system should be almost transparent to the audience. So when it is, the audience doesn't think about the talent and skill of the guys running it. However, when it sounds crappy - I'd bet the first thing the audience thinks is "it's the band - they suck". So while the sound guys can't win, they can't lose either!!

    Yes - a bit of a rant, but justified, IMO. I've seen awesome bands "murdered" by terrible sound dudes (and it wasn't the gear that was causing it). End of rant.

    - Mike
  8. Yep, although sometimes I'm a bit afraid to admit it around here:p. Hey at least there are two of us to counter some of the awful things everybody says. Hang on, most of the awful things are true. D'oh. I read the horror stories and I get embarrassed that these guy are out there making the rest of us look bad. Personally, I think bass players make good sound engineers, in general. Maybe it has something to do with that as musicians, most of us can see beyond ourselves and operate for the good of the whole band as opposed to typical guitarist/vocalist behaviour. This is a generaliztion of course. I think bassists do have a unique perspective, though.

    Mike, this is sad but true. As an insider I have seen "qualified" people do hideous, reprehensible things with PA systems. Some of the guys touring with very large acts are frighteningly incompetent. Often they are a buddy who decided they could run sound. Actually there seems to be a correlation between attitude and competence when it comes to sound guys. For example, I did a large Classic Rock festival a couple of years ago. Outdoors, huge Meyer kit (ie 100 cabs!), high end consoles etc. The PA sounded great. On the last day of the festival, the two big acts were Lynyrd Skynyrd and Foreigner. Skynyrd's guy came in and scoped out the console and effects, listened to Sting for two minutes, and said "This is the best sounding Meyer rig I've ever heard" in a deep southern drawl. We didn't have exactly the effects and compressors/gates etc. that they spec'd and he was like "that's cool, no worries....." Foreigner's guy came up and said "this PA sucks, this console sucks, this outboard gear sucks......." At one point he said that unless we got him a Summit tube compressor they wouldn't play.
    After much bitching and gnashing of teeth, Foreigner took the stage. It sounded awful. He was trying to be way too loud, you couldn't hear the snare, bass, sax and it generally sounded mushy. There's no excuse for that outdoors. Skynyrd came on after and it sounded amazing. Total clarity and perfect balance. Same PA, same venue, same console, same outboard gear. I've seen the same scenario over and over, the mellow guys tend to know what they're doing while the guys with big attitude seldom have a clue.
    The best sounding show I've ever seen was Celine Dion (I didn't pay to go, I was on the local crew :D). Sounded just like the cd, everywhere in the venue! This is a testament to properly time aligning everything and having a crackerjack FOH guy.
  9. Ryan L.

    Ryan L. Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2000
    West Fargo, ND
    Been there too. We have had to put up with a few idiots that act like they know everything, and made us sound like crap. And it has gone the other way, too, as we have had a couple of really good guys.

    That is why we decided to get our own sound guy, and that works out the best. He knows how we wanna sound, knows how to communicate with the band, and in general is just great to have with us. This way we know that we are gonna sound just how we wanna sound at every gig. Period.

  10. BassDude24


    Sep 12, 2000
    I elimenated that problem by getting my own sound man for our band, only problem is, we don't make that much money yet, and he like to pretend like he is a member of the band and get an equal cut, so we gave him a keyboard and he shut up. Now he gets a slightly lesser cut cause we said he just joined and hasn't done any of the writing yet.

  11. I_Dream_Of_Bass


    Feb 8, 2001
    I used to do some live sound in Southern Cal and my experiences have been pretty close to what has already been stated. I think part of the reason is because soundmen are usually underpaid for what they do. They have to deal with 3 to 6 different bands a night flawlessly staying on top of the sound in a changing acoustic atmosphere. I've also seen a lot of soundmen leave live sound as soon as they could get a job in a studio, since they have more control over many of the factors that cause problems and they can make more money.

    Think of doing sound as being similar to learning an instrument. There are people with different skill levels and different styles.
  12. MikeyD


    Sep 9, 2000
    Yes! And unfortunately, the analogy is sometimes like taking an utter hack or 5th grade beginner trumpet player and letting him/her wail in a New York Philharmonic concert! Point being - a great band can be utterly ruined by one bad player, including the sound guy. I've seen this way too often - a sad state of affairs. If more bands could afford to hire their own good sound people, in theory they could have better control over the ultimate sound their audiences hear. Such is rarely the case, though. I wouldn't doubt that there are far more good musicians and good bands out there gigging and in demand than there are good sound operators. (It seems like the poor musicians and poor bands don't make it onto stage that often, whereas poor sound operators seem to be quite common.)
    - Mike
  13. Basswou


    Apr 15, 2001
    I think when you do something with love , money doesn't matter . it's good ! But don't let your guide be money !!!!

    It's the same with soundmen and musicians !!

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