Now that you have the gear you need (or more likely what you could get your hands on), we can assemble it as we carry the gear in.  Do not carry this heavy and bulky stuff anymore than you have to – bring it in and put it where it goes.  So, as mentioned in earlier in this series, scope out the venue so you have a plan of attack.  Even if it is 15 minutes after you arrive, take a quick look around…. Where is the best place for the sound board?  How is the best way to run the long snake cable?  Where are the electrical outlets… can they handle our system power requirements?  Are there any doors or emergency exits you need to be aware of?  Where will the audience be?  Where should you set up the drums, keyboards and monitors?  Sometimes you will not have any choice at all and the host of the event will have their own layout.  Roll with it.

I try to get the main system and all cables run before the band gets there.  I have monitors in-place on stage based on my understanding of the performance/band/event.  I connect the mixer and all house cables. 

Then I test entire system;

Turn on mixer and plug in talk-back mic or any mic into a channel on the mixing board.  Make sure levels work.

Send Talk-Back signal to each of the affect inputs to make sure signal is going to proper effect box or internal effect, and make sure it returns to the input or ‘bus group‘ you will use for that effect.  Make sure headphones and ‘solo’ function works properly.  Yes………..   Bring your own headphones and (ear plugs too!) make sure they are good quality closed type.

Turn on stage monitor amplifiers.  Turn up each monitor send (can be one to four monitor sends from the board) and use Talk-Back mic to send signal to each monitor.  Turn all others off and listen to one at a time to make sure you are controlling the right monitor.  Do not overlook this step.  The on-stage mix is critical, and the mixer – sound engineer is not able to hear the speakers on stage once the mains or house speakers are kicking in.

Make sure all mixer sends to the main amps are turned off all the way before turning on the main amplifiers.  This can save you and the event host a lot of headaches.  Plug in an audio player to the mixing board ‘tape’ or other stereo input and set the levels.  (**)  Slowly turn up the mains with the audio source playing and the signal strength can be seen on the input indicator.  Give it some gas but no need to rattle the windows now.  Keep at a good level and make sure each speaker (or cluster/group) cabinet is connected properly and working.  Walk around the club/venue and listen to your test music.  Hopefully something you know very well.  Try to find areas where the sound collects in corners (sometimes the bass can build up in an area and become very boomy while the rest of the area you cannot hear the bass at all….) or where the sound ‘drops out’ and gets softer or thin sounding.  (this can be from improper phasing due to room acoustics or other audio timing issues.  Try slowly turning main speakers at different angles toward the audience to correct).  Make sure it sounds good everywhere, or at least know that particular areas will sound different and in a number of venues it will sound totally different as you walk around. 

It is not unusual for the sound board to be placed in the worst acoustic piece of real-estate in the club!  Make sure it sounds good standing in the audience, even if it does not sound so great where you are mixing the board.

Now, we are ready to bring in the band or performers.

Comments
  1. Tom Robinson says:

    I hate surprises. These precautions help minimize the many risks of sound engineering. Getting the stage mix right first makes perfect sense. How many times have you heard a singer go sour because she can’t hear herself. The house mix is the final product and, as you say, it depends on the house. Dead spots, thin spots, boomy spots–they challenge your house system.

    Liked by 1 person

    • midimike says:

      Hey, Tom! I agree. I think this is one of the best kept secrets in live sound; if the band can hear themselves along with other performers and they are comfortable with the blend on stage, they will relax, listen and actually PLAY instead of ‘work the gig’. When musicians PLAY instead of perform, it turns into magic on stage and everyone will be delighted. Too many sound gurus make it sound ‘technically’ great in the house mix, but the artists struggle on stage with timing and harmonies the entire evening.

      Like

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