Listen to your sound guy…

he knows best. If he asks you to turn your amp down, please turn your amp down, and be nice about it. Chances are that the sound guy knows what will sound better in the room more so than your local band that may or may not have played that bar/venue before.

Let’s take a second to discuss the dynamics of playing in a bar. The bar needs to make money. The band is there to provide entertainment for the bar patrons and make the bar money. The sound guy is responsible for keeping things at a comfortable volume so the patrons stay and the bar makes more money. Cool? If listening levels get too loud then people start leaving and the bar doesn’t make money. Did I mention that the bar needs to make money? If you don’t turn your amp down after being asked multiple times, and people start leaving because you are TOO LOUD, the bar doesn’t make money. Oh, did I mention the bar needs to make money?

Not only that the bar will have customers walk out because of the volume, the sound guy doesn’t have room to do anything in the mix. So your vocals aren’t coming through the mix and the crowd can’t hear anything you’re saying. Drums? What drums? The sound guy is trying to keep things comfortable, so he is not going to push everything else up to match the amp that’s too loud.

Nobody wins.

So, remember to be nice to your sound guy. If you help him, he will help you. And if you’re a dick, it looks like the suck knob is going to 11.

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.