Live Sound Bag of Magic

Greetings from 35,000 feet! I’m on my way to the annual Jazz Education Network Conference, this year in San Diego, CA. Again this year, I’ll be running sound on the Vision Stage, mostly middle school and collegiate big bands. So to pass the time during my 4 hour flight to Las Vegas for a connection, I want to talk a little about the gear bag I bring with me to my live sound gigs and why I always have it.

Even if the venue or production company has plenty of mics, stands, cables, I am never without a few essentials. These essentials include a small set of screwdrivers, a flashlight/headlight, a few extra mics and cables, tape (e-tape, console, gaffe) and my iPad. This load out has the ability to get the job done, but I would like to add a real SPL Meter and not have to use the mic built in on my iPad. Though I did test the iPad SPL meter app against my friend’s actual SPL meter and they were within a few dBs of each other.

The screwdrivers are very handy when having to take the connector off of a cable when troubleshooting. And with the extra cables you brought, you were able to get to show going again plus giving yourself time to check the cable connections back at the board.

SM57. Great utility mic. Pardon the cliché, but you can never have too many 57s.

The tape comes in handy for anything and everything. From labeling things to holding the hanging guitar mic in place. The possibilities for use are endless and having it makes you look good when the drummer inevitably asks for some to tame his snare drum.

iPads are cool. Depending on the console, the iPad can be connected and used wherever in the room (hooray for not being stuck mixing in the bass trap at the back of the room). Plus you have access to information on the fly. So if you walk into a gig and the venue has a board or piece of gear you are unfamiliar with, you can look it up instantly. Also, there is an array of audio apps you can utilize while working, I use AudioTools. The SPL meter and RTA a nice things to have while at FOH.

My backpack gets a little heavy sometimes (especially when I was carrying my Beta52), but I’d rather have this extra stuff with me. I could throw a lot of sayings at you like “it’s better to have it and not need it, then to need it and not have it” or “failing to prepare is preparation for failure”, but you get the idea. The name of the game is speed and efficiency. Having these tools at the ready make you look professional.

Now it’s time to sit back, sip my ginger ale, and eat my airline peanuts (yes, they are handing out peanuts again!). See you in San Diego.