Archive for December, 2015

If we start from the stage things actually be come easier.  If the mixing or sound board is the hub of processing sounds, the stage is the hub for generating sounds!  Most Live Sound Reinforcement events would benefit if the engineer spent more time here.  It is not uncommon for the sound guy to spend fifteen minutes making sure the kick drum has every frequency needed pumped up loud enough to message your spine (and ear drums) but they take two minutes to set up the stage monitors.  And most do that right after the band sets up  - – – – – when there is no music playing!

So let’s take a minute and walk up on stage and see what it physically looks like.  If you are familiar with the band you have a good idea of acceptable arrangements:  Overall dimensions.   Where are the riser(s).  How tall are the ceilings. Where are the AC outlets.  You may not be able to direct where the performers set up in a number of cases but you can influence some.  Where should the drums/keyboards/horn section go.  Where is a good central place for the snake (multi-connector cable connected to the mixing board).  Where do the monitors go (unless using in-ear monitor systems).  For me, this is also a good place to determine where the house speaker cabinets and amplifiers are placed.  BTW, if you are not familiar with the band or act make it a practice to find out.  Go to their website or media page. Get an idea of what they do live, if you can.  Ten minutes on-line will save you a bunch of headaches if they turn out to have specific requests for their instruments or performers.  I can also tell you from personal experience if you go up to Player C and say, “Hey, I got that adapter you need for your axe”, the player is going to notice the effort.  They will relax and you can let them know they are in good hands.  Getting the band’s cooperation is not necessary.  It is not in the books.  In some situations it might even be a waste of time.  I will still try every time.  Getting their cooperation…… sets up a great performance.  Then I focus on stage sound…..  and most band members will go out of their way to help during sound check and throughout the performance before 20 minutes of equalizing the kick drum.

Now that you have a good idea of the dimensions and set up requirements, place each performer in the best location and set up their respective microphones and monitors as needed.  Set up House gear and test.  From the mixing board, use a ‘talk-back’ microphone sent to the stage monitors to test and communicate with the performers.  Band members might feel like they are inside a cage at the zoo, looking out at the visitors!  Sometimes all you can see are the stage lights in your eyes.  The venue may be quite dark.  So the more comfortable they feel; the more like rehearsal you make it feel, the better the blend among performers.  The better the blend, the better the whole event will unfold.

Going forward I will go over a few details and outline this process to make it easier as well fun!


My dad (MidiMike) asked me to share a poem with all of you that I wrote for him when I was younger. He has always been a huge influence in my life. I’m certain that my love of music comes from him, as does my love of poetry.  I hope this poem gives you a little insight on what it was like to be raised by a musician.- Alisa

Heritage Haiku

My dad wrote over

One hundred songs in my life.

I still quote the words.


If you think that your

Paradise is a place then

You’ll never find it.”


His basement band shook

My bedroom floor, creating

Huge waterbed waves.


Lessons learned from Sting,

David Bowie, and Pink Floyd.

“We could be heroes.”


Ran sound on weekends

I slept under his sound board.

Protected by wires.


For years he worked at

A music store. Customers

Were my fathers too.


Microphones, ADATs,

His baby grand piano.

Guitars not Barbies.



My wife and kids are quite creative.  The list of ideas and mediums they have worked with (mostly played with!) would take a few articles to cover them all.  One of the coolest things we used to do was to hand make small Christmas Cards that we would send or give to family friends and co-workers.  We made quite a few every year.  Sometimes we would make glass ornaments, sometimes fold-out decorated trees.  Scarfs and matching hats.  Each one unique.  They became collectors items in their own little way.  One of my favorites was an audio Christmas Card.  Everyone received a recorded cassette.

My studio has always been open to our kids.  They can play drums or percussion instruments, keyboards and if careful a guitar or two!  We would record often, starting when they learned their “A,B,C’s.  So we decided we would write, sing and record a song. The idea of doing the 12 years was brilliant as we had been doing this for twelve years and there is a popular song about the 12 Days of Christmas.  As you will hear we may have plagiarized a bit in this recording.

We had a great pet cat at the time and his full name was Tasmanian Devil,  but we called him TazMo and later Taz.  He loved to curl up in the cool bathroom sink and hang out. Some other lines will describe the type of card we sent or a piece of the original song, but I think you will get the idea.

Whatever your politics, Wherever you call home, Whomever you love, and Whenever you are able, take care of yourself and your family, have a safe holiday and a great New Year.

From the middle,

each end is far away

Somewhere in-between,

we learn how to pray.

In every story

there is a hint of truth

Behind every lie

is a mountain of proof.

It’s always during the cold lonely nights

That you find out what you’re missing.

I am missing you.


Through the beginning to the end of the last chapter, we have concentrated on the hub or the central nervous system of a Live Sound Reinforcement assignment.  I have been focusing a bit on live performance in a typical band or musical event.  We now understand how most equipment for the House PA, the stage monitors, effects, and even lighting systems use the mixing board as the central hub.  The mixing board’s usefulness does not end there!  Once equipment is set up, connected, turned on and confirmed functional, most of the adjustments made for the rest of the evening will happen because of changes to the mixing board.  It also becomes the Master Device, and all other connected devices are ultimately controlled by the mixer.  The sound engineer is the ONLY person that should touch the mixing board.

The next logical step would be to describe the components of the House PA system and how much power (or how much money do I need to spend….).  After all, this is what most people hear, right?

Obviously, I set up as a trap question.  The answer seems obvious.

If I said, “I sound like a broken record”, most young readers will not know what that means! But I will repeat myself on certain themes and I feel one a’ comin’!  The next important thing is not the House PA and the number of speakers and amplifiers you need.  Most small venue mixing engineers go straight for the house and main systems, completely ignoring the most important ingredient guaranteeing a great performance.  We will avoid that trap now and focus on the stage and more importantly – the musicians on the stage.

When bands practice, they ultimately find a good use of space and volume so each member can achieve the two primary goals;

1) Hear myself (usually louder than any one else.  This is not ego and we will get into that later)

2) Hear the other performers (usually not as loud as the performer wants to hear him/her self!!)

Once they settle in and can accomplish the above – practice is comfortable and productive.  Each member can hear themselves and can also hear enough of the other members to blend with them.  If you saw a live symphony orchestra and all you could hear were the trombones, it would seem like an awful performance.  If you were a musician in the orchestra and all you could hear were the trombones……………

Now we can go back to the band members standing on a stage or venue they have never seen or played in……   and now understand that this is a very real challenge, and the smaller the venue… the smaller the budget.  Lack of Resources can be difficult challenge to overcome.

In larger venues it was quite normal to have a smaller mixing board off to the one side of the stage.  All the instruments and monitors would connect to this mixer, and it would ‘split’ all channels and send them equally to the House mixing board out in the audience area.  (it can also be used to send signals to a recording van parked outside).  The sound engineer on stage makes the band members happy by concentrating on the performers but does not affect the signal going to the House board.  That way the House Engineer has full control of the unaffected incoming channels from the stage board.

Good enough for now and in the next few sections I will focus on the stage sound and mix.


The moon is high

The river is wide

The feeling is right

Everything has its place.


Gorgeous colors

From Spring to Fall

Changes year to year

Each at their own pace.

The sky is blue

The sun is hidden

The grass is growing

Everything has its place.


We miss so much

Turning in circles

Looking for fortune

Everyone makes mistakes.

It’s easy to do, I’ve done it too.

Everyone makes mistakes

It’s easy to do, so will you,

Everyone makes mistakes.



Lack Of Concern ©

You look from behind me, Baby
At what I’m going toward.
Seeing what you want to see
And then you look no more.

Tease me with the truth baby
Don’t tempt me with a lie,
So if you want to play games
I’ll just walk on by.

It’ a lack of concern
Or a lack of control
Is it in the heart,
Or deep within the soul?

You’re not making love with me
You’re just wasting time
Always taking theirs, aren’t you
But I won’t give you mine.

My tears are in your hands
My heart is open wide
But everytime I look, I see
There’s nothing left inside.

Tease me with the truth, Baby
Don’t tempt me with a lie,
So if you want to play games
I’ll just wave bye-bye.