You have seen a million and one videos of live bands or performers.  The stage set-up is fairly common for most band configurations.  We usually do it like they do because it almost always works.  If you have a typical band or act, use the standard stage set up to start with and correct if you need to make adjustments.  Some band or act members will play instruments, some will sing or do both, some will jump off stage and some will be too drunk to walk on their own.  Keep your eyes open and stay close to the volume fader!

I usually turn the volume down on the main amp and the monitor amps before the band starts arriving on stage.  Always make sure to turn the main and monitor volume faders down completely before connecting OR disconnecting  any cables to the mixer or snake.  The snake should already be connected in numerical order before the band is there as it is needed to set up the monitor signals we tested in the last LSR series. 

I know a lot of sound guys that do not do the following suggestion or piece of advice I will give you.  But if you are just starting to do LSR or have been doing for a while and sound checks are not fun and people get angry (with you sound gal and band/act), fire up the sound system this way.

Connect all cables to the snake in an orderly system.  You can use your own rules as needed by the performers or the event to number them, but try to use a system that is easy to remember and easy to repeat,  I will have some suggestions and tips coming in future posts.

Usually, performers will show up at different times.  I try to take advantage of that and direct them to the proper position on stage.  Connect their instruments and microphones to the snake.   Connections can be made simple too as you will see in other topics.  Test their signals from the sound board and make sure to get good working levels (NOT practice levels!)  (More on ‘Gain Staging’ in future posts)  Listen through headphones if necessary to get a good tone and strong signal.  Add player to monitor send(s) as needed.  Now you can talk to performers and have them help you get their levels set.  As each player arrives, the other players will encourage same process;  get into position, plug in instruments, check levels, if applicable add signal to the monitor mix(s) as needed. 

I do all this without turning the Mains volume faders up at all.  For the most part, the audience (and the host that represents the people that paid you and your group for the event!) will not hear much at all, especially as the venue or room for the vent gets larger.  The sound check stage volume should not be enough to bother most people in a club or hall unless they are very close to the front of stage.  After testing each performer’s input signals and getting a good monitor mix, it is time to have the performers do a song or section of the performance that has all members if possible playing.  Do a song or two without the mains turned on to get the feeling of the sound on stage.  Do not rely on the house speakers for this part.  Check with your headphones.  Solo ‘channels‘.  Adjust the monitor mix for each player as needed……..  This is an art of its own and has a bit of science and magic thrown in.

At that point I am ready.  I have good signals, I have tested the Mains and they work as designed and sound good.  The monitor levels are right and during the sound check the performers and players settled in and all players could hear themselves and other performers in proper balance.  If you are lucky, it is time for you and the band to take a break and get ready for the performance and the energetic crowds.  If desired or requested, you can play audio or sound tracks during break through the house system (never the monitors unless specific need) at a moderate level to set the mood.

Comments
  1. Thanks for the info. In my band, Silverwing, we usually do our own PA set up and sound check. I’ve learned a lot over the years, but it’s always good to pick up some pointers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • midimike says:

      I may bring this up in future articles, but in one band I mixed sound on stage as a performer…. and in another I mixed sound in the audience and played keys and did back up vocals! Do you set up all the gear on the band stage? Your band also does DJ and duo gigs…. Do you use the same gear for each? Glad to share what I can and I hope it helps make your job easier.

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      • My husband Mel and I set up the PA on the stage and do the sound check. He is getting a wireless for his guitar and when that shows up he will wander out into the audience and give us a sound check while we are playing. Normally we do a really good job, but every once in a while you get a strange set up, like outdoors or under a patio, that can really cause some issues. We use some of the same gear for the DJ. Karaoke and duo work.

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      • midimike says:

        Some of the problems I have seen have to do with effects one way or another. The wireless is a good idea. I have done that and we would open with a couple songs I did not play on – if I was running sound out in the audience. It is a challenge but it is worth it. Sounds like you stay pretty busy!

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