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Tech: Sound Engineers

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GUEST,Hen Harrier 20 Nov 05 - 10:16 PM
GUEST,John 21 Nov 05 - 12:59 AM
Grab 21 Nov 05 - 09:10 AM
GUEST,Hen Harrier 21 Nov 05 - 10:06 AM
JohnB 21 Nov 05 - 10:23 AM
John Robinson (aka Cittern) 21 Nov 05 - 01:12 PM
Big Mick 21 Nov 05 - 01:18 PM
Grab 21 Nov 05 - 01:18 PM
Chris Green 21 Nov 05 - 03:36 PM
GUEST,HughM 21 Nov 05 - 04:56 PM
Richard Bridge 21 Nov 05 - 05:32 PM
GUEST 21 Nov 05 - 07:29 PM
muppitz 22 Nov 05 - 05:42 PM
GUEST,John 22 Nov 05 - 09:11 PM
The Fooles Troupe 22 Nov 05 - 09:36 PM
GUEST,John 22 Nov 05 - 10:37 PM
GUEST,Bill the sound 23 Nov 05 - 02:14 PM
danensis 23 Nov 05 - 04:08 PM
GUEST,Hen Harrier 23 Nov 05 - 10:43 PM
GUEST,John 23 Nov 05 - 11:43 PM
GUEST,Ralph 24 Nov 05 - 05:15 AM
The Villan 24 Nov 05 - 05:32 AM
cobber 24 Nov 05 - 05:37 AM
mooman 24 Nov 05 - 07:35 AM
Richard Bridge 24 Nov 05 - 03:16 PM
GUEST,John 24 Nov 05 - 07:31 PM
The Fooles Troupe 24 Nov 05 - 07:34 PM
GUEST,John 24 Nov 05 - 08:29 PM
Seamus Kennedy 25 Nov 05 - 12:15 AM
HuwG 25 Nov 05 - 10:02 AM
Kenneth Ingham 26 Nov 05 - 07:28 AM
Claymore 27 Nov 05 - 02:05 AM
Dipsodeb 27 Nov 05 - 06:50 AM
GUEST 27 Nov 05 - 09:55 PM
GUEST,John 28 Nov 05 - 12:04 AM
GUEST 29 Nov 05 - 07:47 AM
GUEST,Fullerton 29 Nov 05 - 07:57 AM
GUEST,crazy little woman 29 Nov 05 - 08:37 AM
Big Mick 29 Nov 05 - 08:53 AM
GUEST 30 Nov 05 - 11:48 PM
GUEST,John 01 Dec 05 - 12:44 AM
The Fooles Troupe 01 Dec 05 - 12:52 AM
GUEST,pavane 01 Dec 05 - 07:20 AM
GUEST,Hen Harrier. 01 Dec 05 - 07:52 AM
GUEST 04 Dec 05 - 08:54 PM
Claymore 06 Dec 05 - 05:50 PM
Richard Bridge 06 Dec 05 - 06:46 PM
GUEST 08 Dec 05 - 09:17 PM
Bob TB 09 Dec 05 - 02:25 AM
Bob TB 09 Dec 05 - 02:37 AM
The Fooles Troupe 09 Dec 05 - 08:23 AM
GUEST 12 Dec 05 - 09:57 PM
Jim Martin 27 Dec 05 - 10:07 PM
Kenneth Ingham 31 Oct 10 - 09:26 AM
Richard Bridge 31 Oct 10 - 09:49 AM
GUEST,Guest from Sanity 01 Nov 10 - 02:16 AM
GUEST,Ralphie 01 Nov 10 - 03:02 AM
GUEST,Ray 01 Nov 10 - 06:16 AM
Leadfingers 01 Nov 10 - 06:36 AM
GUEST,Phil B 01 Nov 10 - 07:09 AM
GUEST,FloraG 01 Nov 10 - 08:06 AM
Jack Campin 02 Nov 10 - 05:38 AM
C-flat 02 Nov 10 - 06:03 AM
mandotim 02 Nov 10 - 07:03 AM
Dave Roberts 02 Nov 10 - 07:32 AM
GUEST,Ralphie 02 Nov 10 - 10:52 AM
GUEST,FloraG 03 Nov 10 - 04:21 AM
GUEST, Fido 03 Nov 10 - 04:43 AM
Jack Campin 03 Nov 10 - 07:16 PM
mandotim 04 Nov 10 - 03:44 AM
GUEST,Dave A 19 Jan 11 - 08:02 AM
Michael 19 Jan 11 - 09:12 AM
GUEST,FloraG. 19 Jan 11 - 02:08 PM
josepp 19 Jan 11 - 05:05 PM
Don Firth 19 Jan 11 - 06:27 PM
GUEST,Ralphie 20 Jan 11 - 02:43 AM
GUEST,FloraG 20 Jan 11 - 05:24 AM
GUEST,Ray 20 Jan 11 - 05:25 AM
GUEST,John from "Elsie`s Band" 20 Jan 11 - 05:48 AM
GUEST,Ralphie 20 Jan 11 - 08:15 AM
GUEST,John from "Elsie`s Band" 20 Jan 11 - 09:15 AM
GUEST,Ralphie 20 Jan 11 - 09:40 AM
GUEST,John from "Elsie`s Band" 20 Jan 11 - 09:53 AM
GUEST,Ralphie 20 Jan 11 - 12:44 PM
GUEST 21 Jan 11 - 08:24 AM
Bernard 21 Jan 11 - 10:39 AM
GUEST 21 Jan 11 - 12:15 PM
GUEST,Ralphie 21 Jan 11 - 12:33 PM
Don Firth 21 Jan 11 - 01:31 PM
GUEST,Ray 21 Jan 11 - 03:41 PM
Bernard 21 Jan 11 - 04:57 PM
Skivee 21 Jan 11 - 06:39 PM
John P 21 Jan 11 - 08:01 PM
Skivee 21 Jan 11 - 08:50 PM
GUEST,Ray 22 Jan 11 - 05:56 AM
The Fooles Troupe 23 Jan 11 - 12:46 AM
The Fooles Troupe 23 Jan 11 - 12:57 AM
GUEST 23 Jan 11 - 11:21 AM
GUEST,Ralphie 23 Jan 11 - 11:33 AM
GUEST,Ray 23 Jan 11 - 12:36 PM
The Fooles Troupe 23 Jan 11 - 03:57 PM
GUEST 23 Jan 11 - 05:21 PM
GUEST,Ralphie 23 Jan 11 - 06:19 PM
GUEST,Jon 24 Jan 11 - 06:59 AM
The Fooles Troupe 24 Jan 11 - 03:25 PM
GUEST,Ray 25 Jan 11 - 11:50 AM
Richard Bridge 25 Jan 11 - 03:20 PM
josepp 25 Jan 11 - 04:02 PM
Bernard 25 Jan 11 - 05:05 PM
Bernard 25 Jan 11 - 05:09 PM
josepp 25 Jan 11 - 05:57 PM
Don Firth 25 Jan 11 - 07:40 PM
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Subject: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST,Hen Harrier
Date: 20 Nov 05 - 10:16 PM

Please refer to the Demon Barbers thread to see my comments.

I think we need to start a new thread here (I couldn't find any others).


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST,John
Date: 21 Nov 05 - 12:59 AM

Hen, It is easy to criticize sound engineers and difficult to be one. Every auditorium / room / hall / outdoor gig has its own acoustic and natural echo (Or lack thererof) profile. You have to zero the room first. I use a "pink noise" generator to evaluate each room.
Then, ya gotta have a lot of patience with "Artistes".
You have to have a good knowledge of the sound frequencies of human vocals and various instruments. When someone sings you have to quickly get their best range nailed down so that it sounds as warm as you can get it.
Most of the good SEs I know are also musicians themselves and drifted into the job because the SEs they were using sucked! I've played in rock and folk bands and specialize in acoustic sound these days. I'm told I'm good by performers and audience alike.
Amplified acoustic sound is an art of using the various EQ devices/reverb units to get the sound the artist(es) is looking for.
I can make you sound as good as you can be, but if you sing off-key or your instrument is not in tune, I can't fix it. I can tell you through the monitor that it is out of tune but I must wait 'till the end of the song.
It also helps to have a CD of the performer to listen to before the gig so I know what they are supposed to (want to) sound like.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: Grab
Date: 21 Nov 05 - 09:10 AM

At Broadstairs, year before last, there was a very good duo with a guitarist and a drummer. The sound man had the drums miked and amplified to the point where they were significantly louder than guitar and vocals put together. We grabbed one of them during the interval and said "can you get the soundman to get this right?" He replied that it definitely wasn't how they wanted to sound, but he couldn't risk pissing off the soundman.

In my (limited) experience:-

- The difference between a good soundman and an excellent soundman is being able to tweak the EQ to make people sound as good as possible.

- The difference betwen a good soundman and a disastrous soundman is being able to hear how loud each instrument is, relative to each other, and being able to judge how loud the overall sound needs to be to fill the room.

- A large proportion of soundmen are disastrous.

- Most halfway-competent musicians can do better than disastrous soundmen, simply by virtue of being able to hear the individual instruments.

And to quote David Knopfler, "If you've ever adjusted the bass or treble on your stereo, then you're halfway to being a sound engineer." A joke, but not so far off the truth.

Graham.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST,Hen Harrier
Date: 21 Nov 05 - 10:06 AM

Thanks very much for that, folks, very interesting. As you probably guessed, I don't really know much about the subject but I know what I like and what I'm comfortable with (and that aint chest thumping stuff!)


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: JohnB
Date: 21 Nov 05 - 10:23 AM

Guest,John seems to have nailed most of it. What he did not talk about though is all of the little tiny things that can "sometimes" (read EVERY time) go wrong. Little things like flat batteries in someones guitar, yeah the same someone who just changed it yesterday. Every connection you can name is a potential non-connection waiting to happen. There are hundreds if not thousands in an average setup, 12 in each connected xlr cord for a start and thanks to Mr Murphy we know when disaster will strike.
It is also one of those fields where people think that they can do better than the "idiot" running the board. Many times that is not the case, because they don't even know what is going wrong. Could most wannabees have actually patched the whole system together to start with. Do they know the difference between an insert and a send, where do the cords for the EQ go, is that an input or an output.
Have some sympathy for a decent sound person and "PAY" them for it, you will probably get what you pay for. Very few ameteurs would hack a day in the the real world, hell I know I would't.
JohnB


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: John Robinson (aka Cittern)
Date: 21 Nov 05 - 01:12 PM

I was once asked to put the guitar in tune (that was an audient asking not the guitarist!)

A mate of mine once had an audient tap him on the shoulder and ask him to fix the air conditioning

There is only one rule. Every pub has a sound engineer. He always knows better.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: Big Mick
Date: 21 Nov 05 - 01:18 PM

I have always considered the sound man to be another member of the band. When touring or local gigging, I always bring "my guy". He knows our sound, he knows my vocal inflections, he knows the what I am trying to get out of the interpretation. Even when I play large festivals, my guy is in back with the sound man.

I came to this after an important gig was seriously affected by a sound engineer who didn't listen. I went to this guy and spent a great deal of time explaining the "bass cut" to him, as well as the sound we are after. He promptly set his sound to the defaults he used, and spent the gig talking to someone on his cellphone. I literally was talking to him from the stage and he ignored me. The offshoot of this is that he was fired from this venue never to return (the Board of Directors of the Festival are great fans and were in the audience and knew how we should sound), and I committed to a full share on all gigs to the soundman (my guy). It has been the best money I have ever spent.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: Grab
Date: 21 Nov 05 - 01:18 PM

Oh, forgot to say. If you've been to a gig and the sound has been top-notch, thank the soundman - they deserve it.

Graham.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: Chris Green
Date: 21 Nov 05 - 03:36 PM

We've been pretty lucky with sound guys on the whole. There have been a couple of notable exceptions, but I tend to work on the basis that having a go at them serves no useful purpose - if they're crap anyway, giving them a bollocking won't make them any better and they'll stop trying on your behalf. I just don't generally bother to thank them from the stage. I must stress, however, that such experiences have been few and far between, and it has to be a pretty shite and insensitive mix to piss us off!


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST,HughM
Date: 21 Nov 05 - 04:56 PM

Yes, many people take some persuading to turn down the bass on voice mikes to improve clarity. Another big problem is those who adjust the gain to within half a dB of the point where feedback produces a nasty screech, not realising that there is still a horrible peak in the frequency response even though the screech has stopped.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 21 Nov 05 - 05:32 PM

No good soundman minds being asked to adjust a mix - but remember that the optimum balance is a matter of preference.

Most soundmen object violently to the two fans of the two different guitarists who both want their mate louder than everyone else.

Personally, I hate people who think "harmony" means their mate out front of the mix and the rest should be bvs.

I also hate people who (typically) ask for "more bass" when they mean "more low mid".

I'd rather have a nice warm vocal sound than lose that feel simply for the sake of "clarity" (which often means a speech contour that makes the voice sound like a mess of sibilants).

I always make a point of finding someone who has heard the band frequently through other PA rigs and knows that band's live sound, to check that his ears tell him the same as my ears tell me.

I also hate sarky conceited gits who say "take the "honk" button off the monitor". Yes I have heard it said (not to me, I was just in the audience but I was ready to get up there and thump the "star" for his total lack of manners). The soundman cannot hear the monitors (I use headphones plus a small hifi amp driving headphones from the speaker outputs (!) to make sure I can hear the monitor mixes over the front of house, for brief moments as long exposure to that level would send me totally deaf, but even then I cannot tell how loud the stage monitors are) and he depends on the band to make it known what they want in the monitors.

If the band has on-stage guitar amps, then they are usually turned up by the band until it is essential to drive the vocals as hard as you can to get the vocals over the stage amps. One venue with a grunge/metal band I was using the house rig with my mixer and the band put the guitar amps so high the 14 kilowatt house rig could not make the vocals audible! This was in a venue with a capacity of about 300.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Nov 05 - 07:29 PM

Nice to hear that some people realise that sound engineers are not emissaries of the dark one sent to pollute all that is pure and folky!

Some obviously still don't like them, but the arguments for the defense seem to be getting stronger.

Maybe some kind of list of good sound engineers could be set up on mudcat? Lists of bad are not a good idea, the legal implications notwithstanding, it may be a bit rough to ruin a career on the basis of the night that EVERYTHING went wrong.

And there's the old money saw.

Cheers,

QTWF


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: muppitz
Date: 22 Nov 05 - 05:42 PM

I'm sure I have no idea who duellingbouzoukis may have in mind as a bad experience! (Ahem!)

(Not me personally, but I have a fair idea!)

muppitz x


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST,John
Date: 22 Nov 05 - 09:11 PM

My favorite (true) SE story was the night I was running sound at a show. This fella comes up and tells me he was on next and was going to play the Digeridoo. This was a new one on me (and I'd even figured out that bagpipes need an extra mic to get the sound from the thumb hole on the back of the chanter!)
So I asked him, "How do you mike a digeridoo?"
"Well" he says, (and it becomes immediately obvious that he has spent too much time among the Aussies) "You get a five-foot piece of one-and-a-half-inch PVC pipe and ..."
"No, no, no!" says I. "I want to know where I place the MICROPHONE!"


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 22 Nov 05 - 09:36 PM

Lucky he wasn't an Aussie, or he might have told you!


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST,John
Date: 22 Nov 05 - 10:37 PM

Fool, He was such a stupid asshole, I had already guessed the best place to shove it! (I didn't - as it was an expensive item).


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST,Bill the sound
Date: 23 Nov 05 - 02:14 PM

It's a thankless job- if you get it right nobody says a word but if you make a small mistake everybodt knoqs a better way. but I still enjoy doing it.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: danensis
Date: 23 Nov 05 - 04:08 PM

I used to do sound mixing many years ago, and the technology has improved in leaps and bounds, but the sound doesn't seem to be getting any better. I often see someone playing away on an instrument and there isn't a trace of it in the mix. I do question whether many operators know what the different instruments sound like?

Then there is the question of volume. My suspicion is that operators have monitored at such high sound levels for so long they have mid-range deafness. Many's the gig I've been to where the mix sounds better from the foyer than in the hall. I know see people at festivals wearing industrial ear protectors!


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST,Hen Harrier
Date: 23 Nov 05 - 10:43 PM

"Operators........have....deafness." That's exactly what I meant!

Still, it's an ill wind etc. - good business for ear protector sellers! Sorry, I'm just being a wee bit cynical.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST,John
Date: 23 Nov 05 - 11:43 PM

I have mixed rock 'n' roll to acoustic gigs and when the call is for high volume I use professional ear protectors which lower the sound level without distorting the frequencies. Industrial ear protectors are designed to kill the harmful high frequencies.
As a bass player in my younger days, I can't say my hearing has not been damaged by standing too near the drummer's cymbals.
A good aid to a sound man is a Real Time Sound Analyser which gives a 1/3 octave graphic readout of the sound frequencies coming out of the mains.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST,Ralph
Date: 24 Nov 05 - 05:15 AM

Ah "Bill the sound"....How true!

Whilst mixing a (now defunct) English dance band at a Sat night dance in Stoke on Trent in the early 90's, I was harangued by a gentleman (well, OK Morris Dancer!) telling me that he couldn't hear the melodeon. I dutifully raised the gain on the appropriate channel, was he satisfied.....?   No!

I looked perplexed, as I always try to please...

What the gentleman had fail to notice was, that the tune being played was in B Flat, being led by the Soprano Sax player, and said Melodeon player was at the bar buying a pint!...Doh!

He still wasn't happy...Ho Hum.

FOH engineers always get blamed. It was nice to get my own back just once.

As far as hearing loss goes, All 25 of my colleagues who spend a lot of time doing loud gigs (Glasto, Reading etc) have all had hearing checks in the past couple of years, (Health and Safety stuff).

We all passed with flying colours, apart from a slight dip about 6-7 KHz. We blame the crack of a snare drum.

Just my 2 pennorth Ralphie


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: The Villan
Date: 24 Nov 05 - 05:32 AM

John Robinson was PA man for Julie Ellison at my club last Friday and this is what I posted on my thread

"John R, your PA work is a credit to how it should be done. Maybe you should do some workshops for budding PA geezers. :-)

The truly hard work that you and Julie put in, showed in the quality of the results. Excellent night."

I agree that if somebody does a good job give them the credit they deserve.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: cobber
Date: 24 Nov 05 - 05:37 AM

We had some great sound men over the years but we found some bad ones, particularly at folk festivals when we didn't have our usual people with us. (I'm talking about Australia). Most of the ones we had complaints about were only used to electric instruments. It was always a giveaway when the soundie pointed at a mandolin and said, "What's the hell is that?" When we started back in the late sixties there was no foldback but as things improved it was a split off front of house. I still think that if all the band listens to the same mix they should be able to balance themselves and make the sound job easy, but most modern systems are unable to give you the same mix front and back. A lot of systems have several different mixes on stage and I reckon this only encourages the innate self-centredness of musicians (of which I'm one) We did a tour supporting Steeleye span once and they had eight different mixes on stage. That's what they like and they had their own soundie and mixing desk to achieve it. I also agree with the previous person who said thank the soundie if he does it well. This is not only good manners, but it helps to develop a relationship with the most powerful person in the venue.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: mooman
Date: 24 Nov 05 - 07:35 AM

I think I agree with John Rouse for many sound problem cases.

I was recently at a gig watching the very excellent Bob Mould play his socks off. Unfortunately, the sound was a deafening sea of middle frequencies. I went back as far as I could in the auditorium which improved things marginally and ended up standing right next to the state-of-the art mixing panel being used. I could clearly see the sound analyzer which confirmed my suspicions. The wazzock behind the desk, however, seemed completely oblivious to his carnage and more interested in his pint.

Fortunately, I have been to more concerts with good sound than bad.

Peace

moo


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 24 Nov 05 - 03:16 PM

Some acoustic guitarists do not like too much tizz on the top or scoop out of the middle - they would rather have the wood. I know of one biggish name (I never did his PA) who told me he asks for a line feed and puts his own compact mic and equalizer on stage so that he can send what he thinks a guitar sounds like.

If a crucial guitar is pluggable it is a good plan at sound check to give the guitarist a really long lead (or a wireless pack) and ask him to come off stage to listen to the front of house. When he is happy you know what he likes, and you can re-tailor the sound as the audience comes in (audiences are a nuisance, they affect the acoustics of the room!) to try to keep the preferred sound.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST,John
Date: 24 Nov 05 - 07:31 PM

Richard, you hit it right on the head! The audience is the problem! You get the sound balance perfect at the sound check in the empty hall, then they let in several hundred 200 lb water-filled sound absorbers and it takes you about three or four songs (on the first song you are also having to pay close attention to performers who are frantically gesturing at you to turn them or their instrument up/down in the monitor) to reset the EQ and balance levels. The only good thing is that there are no more people on the stage than at the sound check so the monitor mix changes are usually minimal. Polite performers will end a song before asking for less/more volume/mids/bass etc.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 24 Nov 05 - 07:34 PM

The problem with those wonderful sound analyser displays is that if you just look at the pretty picture, you can mangle the balance of the sound enough that you CAN send up with a 'flat' display - unfortunately the sound is then 'flat' too. If people with little 'musical training' start training to be 'sound engineers', then they have little idea of what the 'sound' is supposed to be, just whether they have twiddled all the knobs or not. And of course, the more toys you have, then you HAVE to twiddle them ALL. But a piano has 88 keys, and you are not supposed to push them all down at once... :-)

That is one of my criticisms of much recorded music (and 'live' miked performances with more than a couple of instruments) I hear - they all sound the same. Damn Phil Spector and his 'wall of sound'!!! (more properly called 'wail of sound)!!!!

CONTRAST PLEASE!!!!

The comments about always trying to make the artist sound the 'same' no matter what the acoustic conditions are, tend to raise my hackles...

And with 'folkies' who produce a nice pretty looking CD with a dozen or more tracks that all have the same sound, the same pace, the same thumpty thump rhythm - well I am glad for downloading (even small segments) as if I bought the CD I would probably only play it once...

Robin


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST,John
Date: 24 Nov 05 - 08:29 PM

Fool, you obviously have a distrust of sound engineers. Remember that it has to be a team thing with SEs and performers. SEs want to know what you want to sound like. True SEs are part of the performance. But if you become too prissy we tend to switch off.
A sound check should last no more that 30 minutes - maybe more for larger groups (the SE will have already been there for some time setting up the PA and EQing the room).
A frequency analyzer is a mere tool. You have to know what it is telling you to use it properly. What a good analyser will do is analyze "white" or "pink" noise to tell you what each room's natural sound frequencies are. This helps to balance the mains to the room (and avoid feedback) before the SE even tries to get the performer's sound down.
SEs have to listen to the performance. If you suck musically or play out of tune, the SE cannot fix that. The SE can make you sound the best you can. Most good SEs I know are very patient and slow to anger but if you really piss the SE off he can also make you sound like a real amateur. Remember that!
The remainder of your post was not relevant to sound engineering.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: Seamus Kennedy
Date: 25 Nov 05 - 12:15 AM

One problem I had, even after a good thorough soundcheck, is that I raise or lower my my voice for dramatic/comedic effect either by projecting more forcefully, or approaching and backing off from the mic.
The SE then takes it upon himself to raise or lower the volume as he hears fit, thus eliminating the effect I am trying to achieve.
So now, at a festival or show, I'll tell the SE ahead of time that when he hears my voice level rise or fall, not to adjust it, because that's what I want.
Most of them appreciate the information, and during my performance, they can lean back and have a beer without haing to tweak.

Seamus


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: HuwG
Date: 25 Nov 05 - 10:02 AM

As a SE (in a very small way) in the past, I have been known to use the desk to deliberately annoy members of the audience or performers. Click here Just occasionally, when artist and or audience become more than usually obstreperous, the little guy with horns and pitchfork wins the debate over the one with wings and a halo on the other shoulder.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: Kenneth Ingham
Date: 26 Nov 05 - 07:28 AM

T the club I go to there is a great sound engineer called Andy something or other. He sorts it out!


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: Claymore
Date: 27 Nov 05 - 02:05 AM

As one who has done mostly acoustic sound for the past twenty years, I've seen 'em come and go, and a great deal of new processers to boot.

Seamus, I wonder why no-one has mentioned a compresser to you which, when properly set with a "soft knee ratio," would allow you to add volumn for dramatic effect without blowing the speakers.

As for a Dige, try an X-Y stereo setup with wind puffs on the mic heads, about 4 inches from the end of the tube (Close to the first cycle of the intial vibrato cycle) and pan slowly from left to right if there's a solo or intro. It puts you inside the tube if done right. The 45 degree angle on the mic heads avoids the effects of wind compression on the mic capsules.

As for the most basic skill of the sound guy, it is the ability to appear to turn a knob or ajust a slider while actually doing nothing to the board, and looking up at the complainer with a questioning glance, and a "Did that do it?" comment without the smirk.

A couple of more comments:

Monitor Wars - the fact that during the progress of the performance you gradually lose the ability to hear yourself (Kind of like smells) and suddently everyone is demanding to hear them selves in the monitors. Monitors are for cueing, volumn matching, and rythmn exchange, NOT TO HEAR YOUR STUPID SELF.

Because most people want to be near the performers, and some SEs place the speakers next to the stage, the crowd has the choice of being near the performers or going deaf. Place your speakers high on stands and use tilt adapters (Yorkville, from Canada, makes some good ones) to aim the speakers down towards the middle of the audience from high right and left. Since most tweeters use a 90 X 45 degree angle, if the speaker is placed level, 22.5 degrees of the most direct sound from the tweeters is wasted. Using a 15 degree adapter directs an additional 15 degrees down closer to the center of the audience and reduces the loss to 7.5 degrees of direct input.

Notice how the speakers are placed in the permenent setting in a good theater, high and at a 15 degree angle. Good luck!


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: Dipsodeb
Date: 27 Nov 05 - 06:50 AM

I heard he resigned there's another one now!


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Nov 05 - 09:55 PM

refresh


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST,John
Date: 28 Nov 05 - 12:04 AM

I'd have to completely disagree with Claymore on the use of Compressors for acoustic sound reproduction. If you want the sound distorted it's the way to go, tho". His other recommenations are for big halls - I dunno where he gets audiences that size for folk.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Nov 05 - 07:47 AM

refresh


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST,Fullerton
Date: 29 Nov 05 - 07:57 AM

I'd have to completely agree with Claymore on the use of Compressors for acoustic sound reproduction. If you don't want the sound distorted it's the way to go.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST,crazy little woman
Date: 29 Nov 05 - 08:37 AM

I'm a long-time supporter of a non-profit that brings bands, usually Scottish or Irish, to the Midwest.

When we use our own sound man, the sound is good. (Yes, I've thanked him for that.)

It is almost always bad news when we hear "The band is bringing its own sound man." What we get then is somebody's brother or buddy, who is twenty-something years old and wants to see America. His definition of a good sound is a loud sound. The term "threshold of pain" has no meaning for him. Almost certainly, he has not attended a large number of concerts or a variety of concerts.

I want to support my friends in their attempt to bring traditional music to town, but when there's a sound man like this, I either walk out at half-time or ask for my money back.

In an attempt to meet people halfway, I talk hearing protection to the concerts, small blobs made by Mack. I find I don't need to insert them all the way; I just need to present an obstacle to the higher frequencies.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: Big Mick
Date: 29 Nov 05 - 08:53 AM

I guess that might have been your experience, but mine has been that my own sound man understands my sound better than anyone. That is why he is paid a full share. He knows how to zero out a room, and he knows how to adjust the sound based on the song/tune we are playing.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Nov 05 - 11:48 PM

refresh


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST,John
Date: 01 Dec 05 - 12:44 AM

Jeez, Fullarton, you don't actually seem to know what a compresor does! It DISTORTS the sound by squeezing down the headroom of your signal.
Compressors are great for rock but are withouth use in acoustic music (one exception - a harmonica played through a bullet mic!)


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 01 Dec 05 - 12:52 AM

Compressors DISTORT the acoustic volume RANGE of a sound source. In other words, at a certain sound level, it changes the rate of increase of the sound level to a lower rate.

Expanders do the reverse. They INCREASE the RANGE of the volume of the sound.

Compressors are useful for generating Muzak type sounds, i.e. of limited acoustic range, suitable for playing pseudo-celtic music in elevators so that people remain calm while plunging to their deaths when the cable snaps.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST,pavane
Date: 01 Dec 05 - 07:20 AM

My recent experience is on the club circuit in South Wales.

There is usually a single singer with backing tracks, surely the simplest possible setup. But STILL almost everybody (or often his wife at the controls) turns up the bass, treble and reverb to maximum, and ends up distorted as hell and singing in the bathroom.

Mrs Pavane won't let me advise (Quite rightly, I suppose, no-one likes a smart-ass, but how else will they ever find out how much better they could sound if no-one tells them?)

(However, I must say that a music shop tried to sell me a speaker which had an audible buzz, so maybe they also don't know any better.)


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST,Hen Harrier.
Date: 01 Dec 05 - 07:52 AM


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Dec 05 - 08:54 PM


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: Claymore
Date: 06 Dec 05 - 05:50 PM

Let me respond to the compressor discussions above. Yes, compressors are used for Rock Music but they do have their place in acoustic music reinforcement, and almost exactly in the situation described by Seamus Kennedy. If the sound is set at a reasonable volumn with realistic headroom, and one performer decides to increase his volumn for "dramatic effect", it is still there; just not at the rate he expresses, and certainally not at an input which would cause the amps to blow the speakers.

You need to remember that if you have set your levels well after a realistic sound check, you most want to ensure that the noise floor is extremely low so that during the quiet sequences of a given piece of music, you do not pick up what is often called "hash" "frying bacon" or "pink noise", but in reality is the 60 cycle hum (in the US) or any of its resonant/harmonic cycles, such as 120, 240, 480, etc. or input from the lighting system or a bad ground.

(Several people have objected when I suggested a ground lift to reduce "hiss," but the voltages in the US are not the same as in Europe, and for about $9 you can by a two pole 15 amp GFI which will allow you to plug a three prong plug into a two prong adapter and then into this GFI, hence to the power source, with no danger, and a significant loss of 60 cycle hum. For you European types, they may manufacter a similar item in your voltages, as a retrofit GFI for "older homes' as this one is marketed in America.)

When I said "soft knee compression" it is clear that several individuals who objected have no idea what I was saying. Without getting into a long side-bar, it is a ratio of reduction which gives plenty of room for "dramatic effect" but the draw-down is at a lesser rate than for other forms of compression.

Remember that at the end of the day, that "dramatic effect" may be completly limited by the amp, without the sound engineer doing anything at all; kind of like crashing into a brick wall. Almost anyone has heard it, as it develops into incoherent distortion. What a compressor does is slows the approach to the brick wall without the distortion (providing it is set at a proper rate of attack, decay, and the ratio is "soft" but within limits of the amp/speakers outputs.

Hope this clears things up.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 06 Dec 05 - 06:46 PM

Claymore you probably need to draw a graph. No idea how you do that in html.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Dec 05 - 09:17 PM


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: Bob TB
Date: 09 Dec 05 - 02:25 AM

refresh


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: Bob TB
Date: 09 Dec 05 - 02:37 AM

The talk of artists using their own SEs prompts me to put the other side. Early on as an SE a reasonably well known band provided their own SE and I let him take over. The guy knew nothing and the sound was a complete disaster! We spent half their set edging him off the desk and the other half getting everything back to where we started. Of ciourse they hadn't turned up for a sound check. This is not, in my experience, unusual in folk mucsic. Ever since then I have let the artists SE advise but not take control - at least not until I have confidence in them. After all it is my reputation that is a stake, not theirs. Bad sound is always the SEs fault ;-)

Its a careful balancing act.

Bob


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 09 Dec 05 - 08:23 AM

"Almost anyone has heard it, as it develops into incoherent distortion."

Jimi Hendrix, et. al. man!


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Dec 05 - 09:57 PM


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: Jim Martin
Date: 27 Dec 05 - 10:07 PM


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: Kenneth Ingham
Date: 31 Oct 10 - 09:26 AM

One, Two, One, Two ...


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 31 Oct 10 - 09:49 AM

Old mother Hubbard had a rough cut punt,
Not a punt cut rough, but a rough cut punt.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST,Guest from Sanity
Date: 01 Nov 10 - 02:16 AM

I've always thought a 'player' SHOULD know something about sound engineering, and in doing so, it helps you to be better equipped in picking A GOOD engineer, to work with, as much as possible...preferably the same one! You have to be able to respect his abilities, and his knowledge. He, in turn should learn or know, that there is different personalities in his 'players' who pick the instruments they play...and allow for it, to be free to mix the best mix, and NOT give into, the demands of the individual band members! Once you have him, then just as Max said, earlier, consider him as one of you! To tell you the truth, 'playing' a good board, takes as much sensitivity, to the music, as a 'player' does, in playing it!!!

As an experienced composer, writer, musician, recording artist, and sound engineer...through a few years, and having worked with some 'A' musicians, you, as a player, or engineer MUST keep in mind, it is the SONG...not the individual's chops, that you're looking to lift up. there is always time to give individual players, their turn..but it is the SONG, that must come through!!

A few notes, that I use, to set levels: On the 'high end' I want to HEAR the drummers stick HIT the cymbal, followed by the sizzle. On bass, the bass roll-off should NOT mush up the warm mid tones. Yes, you can actually HEAR the fingers, and expression in the bass...it's in the mids! Vocals: I find in EQ-ing, I lower the mids of the instruments(bringing the bass up from the bottom, then lowering the mids, after capturing the 'warms' just above the bottom, so the voice comes through with clear presence. As far as the vocals, remember this, the human voice is the only instrument on the planet that can pronounce words...PRONOUNCE THEM CLEARLY!!...DISTINCTLY...and NEVER hide behind 'style'. Hold only vowels, and 'bite off' consonants.

In large auditoriums or concert halls, when you do your sound check, and its all perfect, raise the 'high end' a tad, because when the seats fill up, you lose highs a bit, because the surface area has changed, from an empty auditorium!...(and it will sound sorta 'muffled').

Sound engineers unspoken rule, is 'separation and placement'!!!..everybody crystal clear!

Vocalists: Tend to throw attitudes sometimes, this is because, being as their egos propel them, they often know LESS about music than their support musicians!...so to compensate, they may be 'exacting' with some attitude...so be sensitive to that, in order to get a good mix!
....and for God's sakes, vocalists, sing with believable EXPRESSION! Become the character to who your song is real, rather than USING the song to make YOU real!

On performing: IF you are 'self conscious' YOU WILL make mistakes! Be the voice of God, singing THROUGH your humanity, (God Conscious), and you will even blow yourself away!!...with NO mistakes!

Lastly, for this post, music is an expression...not a competitive sport! With all that in mind, and an open trust and respect for your engineer, you should be able to achieve a great delivery of every nano-second of the piece....trust me on that one!!!

Once again, as Max said, your engineer is one of you. A good one can 'play' his board, just like a 'player' plays his ax!

Regards!

GfS


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 01 Nov 10 - 03:02 AM

For anyone on Facebook, There is Group called "Don't Piss Off The Sound Guy"
A plethora of very funny stories down the years, and hundreds of sometimes very scary photos.
Particularly like the T shirt that says
WE'RE NOT HAPPY
TIL, YOU'RE NOT HAPPY!
Well worth a visit.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST,Ray
Date: 01 Nov 10 - 06:16 AM

Having been both a musician and a sound man over the last several decades, I am aware what musicians tend to think about sound men but what tends not to come through is what sound men think about some musicians.

Musicians need to remember that the sound they are hearing on stage an be totally different from that front of house and they are in the worst position to criticise the sound man for it.

As for drummers (we all know about drummers!) the main problem I've come across is being unable to turn them down acoustically. If they insist on hitting the things too hard in order to get "the right sound" you can usually turn up the back-line to compensate but then you start to loose the vocals. Put this in a stage show with an un-miced chorus and you have a problem.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: Leadfingers
Date: 01 Nov 10 - 06:36 AM

Try doing sound for an elderly musician with a hearing problem - What YOU can hear coming out is NOT what he can hear coming out !


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST,Phil B
Date: 01 Nov 10 - 07:09 AM

Q. Whats't the difference between God and the rest of humankind?

A. God doesn't think he's a sound engineer.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 01 Nov 10 - 08:06 AM

I found the best sound engineer in all the festivals Ive been to this year at Wadebridge. Not only could I hear the voices and all the instruments - he played good folk music during the interval.

Anyone else found any good ones?


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: Jack Campin
Date: 02 Nov 10 - 05:38 AM

I NEVER want to hear the sound engineer playing his CD collection during the interval, no matter what it is. I've paid to hear the acts advertised and not be distracted from what they're doing.

Don't any performers make it a condition of appearing that no piped music should be played at their gigs? If not maybe they ought to.

If there are two comparable events I have to choose between, I'll always pick the one with no piped music (which means the one that isn't at Edinburgh Folk Club).


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: C-flat
Date: 02 Nov 10 - 06:03 AM

Thing that always surprises me is when an artist starts ranting at the sound-man during sound-check.
I've acted as support to one-time "names", often in the twilight of their careers, who, presumably out of frustration at their reduced status, vent themselves at those around them.
I always likened it to insulting the waiter before you've had your meal. Not advisable.
On one particular occassion the sound engineer was having such a bad time at the hands of the head-liner, who wouldn't allow me to soundcheck until he was satisfied, (which wasn't goping to happen in this lifetime), that he pulled me aside and told me not to worry. "I guarantee you'll sound great" and "Fuck him", gesturing to the stage.
I thoroughly enjoyed the on-stage experience of quality monitoring and being in the hands of the sound guys. It's impossible to tell what's being projected when you're on stage, so you have to trust those at the desk and let them do their work.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: mandotim
Date: 02 Nov 10 - 07:03 AM

Jack, how can you be distracted from what the artist is doing in the interval? Is it important for you to concentrate on them having a quick beer, going for a pee and selling a few CDs?
Tim (joking, honest!)


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: Dave Roberts
Date: 02 Nov 10 - 07:32 AM

Two words spring to mind. Graham Bradshaw. If you want excellent sound, that's all you need to know.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 02 Nov 10 - 10:52 AM

Graham Bradshaw....Yes, agreed. Good ears, and a really nice bloke too.
Also agree with C-Flat.
What bands with egos don't understand, is that if I get grief during a sound check ("Oi. You at the back...GET IT RIGHT!") then, they're not going to have the happiest of gigs. To all artists out there, You all either play (or sing) one instrument....I, on the other hand, play the whole band.
Don't forget it!
Another plug for the Facebook group. Don't Piss Off The Sound Guy.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 03 Nov 10 - 04:21 AM

Jack - we always play music at intervals. ( We've recently upgraded our equipement from a tape desk to a CD player). Barn dance intervalls tend to be longer than concert ones, and people like to hear a bit of background while tucking into supper and buying raffle tickets. However, we've found that tune sets are best as people are not concentrating on words.

At wadebridge festival the young man played Poozies Cds - so we could enjoy the music before the concert started and while buying pasties at the interval ( excellent pasties).

The Barge pub in Gillingham ( our local folk music pub ) plays a good selection of music at the interval - often including local artists. It gives us time to tune up and say hi to all our friends in the audience.

Long live good interval music.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST, Fido
Date: 03 Nov 10 - 04:43 AM

Tune up?


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: Jack Campin
Date: 03 Nov 10 - 07:16 PM

You don't have to put up with canned interval music at jazz or classical concerts. Why should folk be so different?


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: mandotim
Date: 04 Nov 10 - 03:44 AM

Why shouldn't folk be different?


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST,Dave A
Date: 19 Jan 11 - 08:02 AM

FloraG-
Rob Ellmore is another folk sound engineer worth a mention.
He's always done us proud!


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: Michael
Date: 19 Jan 11 - 09:12 AM

Those of you who have been to Stainsby Festival will know that they have brilliant PA driven by John Ramsay from EFX.

Mike


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST,FloraG.
Date: 19 Jan 11 - 02:08 PM

Played at the Barge, Gillingham again this week. What a joy to be able to turn up to a pub and know that the PA is already there so we just need to transport our instruments.    The attentive sound man coped with me playing a quiet and my second loudest instrument - neither with DI.

The pub itself also has a large collection of folk instruments - but I've not been brave enough to turn up without instruments and just work my way round the room.

Can anybody else recommend venues that are as obliging.
FloraG.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: josepp
Date: 19 Jan 11 - 05:05 PM

Having been a soundman I have learned that a soundman is a peon to be abused by every musician who isn't happy with the mix. It is a thankless job. You try to get the bastards miked up right and they insist on doing some damn fool thing that will totally hose the sound and you cannot talk them out of it.

I once did sound for a jazz society whose union musicians did not feel they owed me a soundcheck beforehand and yet expected the sound to be perfect. When you tell them a soundcheck ensures that it will be, it's not in their contract.

Then there's the dipshit who has to fuck with the volume on his amp instead of having me turn it up in the monitors. Now he's drowning everyone out and I have to dial him down but that's not as bad as the guy who turns his amp down and now I can't bring it up high enough from the board for people to hear it. And the phrase, "If you need anything up or down, tell me and I will do it from the monitors--DON'T do it from your amps!" That translates to musicians' ears as: "powpueoqietqlnvn.zkxgnworiut23097243khwvpoiiyqertjnbgoihher"

Then there's the guys who fuck up their set and blame you--the soundman--YOU caused it. "I couldn't hear myself!" So you ask, "How can I know that if you don't say anything?" which translates to them as, "Please give me more of your uncalled-for abuse. I just can't get enough."

Then there's dickwads in the crowd who come up and tell you how they want the sound mixed or they flat out abuse you. "That sounds like SHIT!" I just say, "Oh, I'm sorry! Would you like to take over the board, I love to learn from a real professional." Then they tell everyone what a smartass you are and won't listen to reason. One time at an old-timers Dixieland jazz show, a guy comes up and says, "I can't hear the piano!" He was fucking 90! No exaggeration--he was 90 years old. I'm supposed to blow everybody out of their chairs to bring up the piano just for him. What can you do? You can't turn it up or it drown everything out. The mix is fine but he standing there expecting you to turn it up. So I turn up the volume of a knob on a channel I'm not using. Then I smile and shrug.

Now, most musicians have some degree of civility but, man, I got to tell you that there are some REAL fucking assholes out there. ASSHOLES! Then when their show's over--they're out of there while you have to pack up your board, your snake, your mikes and stands, your speakers and monitors, every cord and cable. Do they help? FUCK NO!

I think before you ever do a live set, you should be required to spend a year doing sound for other bands first. THEN you will know what it feels like when musicians expect you to shit miracles out of every goddamn orifice. Then you will know how thankless it is to be a soundman.

Quite frankly, I'll never do it again. I was getting paid $300 a pop and I still won't ever do it again. It was THAT bad.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: Don Firth
Date: 19 Jan 11 - 06:27 PM

Ye gawds! I've sung in places from coffeehouses that would seat, at most, thirty-five people and didn't need a PA system to places only slightly smaller than the vehicle assembly building at Cape Canaveral, including a bunch of outdoor venues. I'm behind the mic and I can't really hear what it's like out front, so I've always just trusted the sound engineer and concentrated on what I'm supposed to be doing.

Been at it for over fifty years and never had a problem.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 20 Jan 11 - 02:43 AM

josepp...I feel your pain!
I really do....
One small thing...Where do you get $300 a gig??? (It's never happened to me...The rest of it has!)


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 20 Jan 11 - 05:24 AM

Josepp
I'm sorry to hear what a poor time you have had. I can't believe it was from folk musicians as most of them I know would not act like that. However, I believe there is a different requirement for folk music than pop etc in that with folk music you want to hear the words of any song. I think that if you get a rigg from people who are used to doing pop they may not realise this.
I also think that with ticket costs rising people expect a better quality of sound. We attended 2 festivals this year where we were critical of the sound mix in the main tents. I'm not sure that either of them had any feedback system for customers to say what they thought.
FloraG


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST,Ray
Date: 20 Jan 11 - 05:25 AM

Mentioning no names, I used to do the occasional job for a sound hire company when the owner was away doing some "really" big bands - the sort that usually play in 80K seater stadiums. The last time I saw him he said he'd given it up and was concentrating on political conventions because he didn't get the shit from so called musicians.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST,John from "Elsie`s Band"
Date: 20 Jan 11 - 05:48 AM

Ralphie,
       I heard you on "Late Junction", BBC Radio 3, last night.
Super, duper, Top Man!.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 20 Jan 11 - 08:15 AM

Hi John...Really??? Doing What?!
Nobody told me. I assumed they thought me demised!
Looking forward to the royalty cheque for 5p coming soon!


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST,John from "Elsie`s Band"
Date: 20 Jan 11 - 09:15 AM

Ralphie,
          It was "Yrsno" from the cd, "Eloise".


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 20 Jan 11 - 09:40 AM

Thanks John...
And thanks to Fiona Talkington for remembering an old bloke!
It's probably quite sad for all readers, but, after 33 Years of working for BBC Radio, I feel pathetically humbled to hear myself on the Radio....Very strange.!


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST,John from "Elsie`s Band"
Date: 20 Jan 11 - 09:53 AM

Ralphie,
       If "Yrsno" is anything to go by then you are probably on a deserved roll. We were featured on a Verity Sharp programme for which we were most grateful.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 20 Jan 11 - 12:44 PM

John.....Tommorow....World Domination!!!


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Jan 11 - 08:24 AM

Take a 2,000 seater auditorium - take two well known bands and start sound checking each in turn - first up is to get a rough general mix and send the auxs to the stage monitor mixing desk/operator....at this point you then need to fine tune all the different parameters necessary for a sound to satisfy the band as well as expected bums on seats - its at this particular moment that I received a sharp tap on the shoulder from a female who was telling me to sit down as she couldn't see the band - incredulous as it sounds she had entered the venue with her husband and seated themselves right behind me on a closed sound check period - I had great pleasure in having security eject them - another time - an old guy came up and asked "Why was it so loud" - again, it was sound check time - I told him it was so everybody could hear it !!! - he went merrily on his way quite happy with my flippant answer.....what on earth is security playing at when people can walk in willy nilly on closed venues at sound check time ???? anyone else got similar stories.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: Bernard
Date: 21 Jan 11 - 10:39 AM

A funny story I recall from the days when we used to do the Royal National Eisteddfod of Wales... I was on the sound desk in the Main Pavilion for a brass band concert (!)... the director and another bigwig came into the sound control room during the performance complaining very vociferously about my poor sound balancing skills...

Apparently it was far too loud in the auditorium, and I had to do something about it at once!

Well...! I politely pointed at the sound desk, and showed them that all the faders were down! I explained that, as it was a brass band and didn't need any help, I was merely using a microphone for announcements, and no microphones were open during the performance.

If he wanted the band turning down, he must speak to the conductor, as there was nothing I could do!


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Jan 11 - 12:15 PM

I wonder what it is about our social make-up that makes it acceptable to tell a sound engineer they are doing a bad job?

We don't complain to a performer (mid song) if they are not very good. In fact we tend to feel supportive of them, and afterwards tell them they were very good and they should keep performing.

Most of us generally don't complain in restaurants if the food is bad. How many times have I said "yes everything is fine" to the waiter when really I'm thinking otherwise?! As a nation we are not known for our ability to complain.... except when it comes to sound engineers!

I wonder what it is about the make-up of sound engineers that doesn't like to receive said criticism? Ego dented? Hard work undermined? Stressed?
When was the last time someone told you that you were no good at your job?

The problem of bad sound can arise from two sources:
a) the sound engineer (there are lots of bad sound engineers)
b) circumstances outside the sound engineers control (turn down the brass band at once!)

If you are experiencing bad sound at a concert, its going to be one of the above. They are both very common.

The thing to do before complaining is to try to work out if it is the sound mans fault or not - and then try to make your complaint without disdain! The sound engineer will have been working really hard all day long to get to the point whereby you see him actually mixing the band, and there may well be many underlying factors that are contributing to the bad sound which you may not necessarily be aware of.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 21 Jan 11 - 12:33 PM

Told this story before...but still apposite.
Ceilidh at Festival...Doing FOH sound.
Drunk Morris dancer complains that he can't hear the Melodeon..
Point out to Drunk Morris dancer, that the tune is being played in Bb, on a Saxophone and the Melodeon player is at the bar, buying a beer and having a fag...(not needed on this tune)
Drunk Morris dancer isn't satisfied, and demands "More Melodeon"...
(resist temptation of punching Drunk Morris dancer....but only just)
He fell over half an hour later anyway..!


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: Don Firth
Date: 21 Jan 11 - 01:31 PM

A few decades back, Tommy Makem and Liam Clancy did a concert in Seattle. My wife and I went with a couple of friends.

It was held in an auditorium at the University of Washington that seated maybe five-hundred people. Like an amphitheater, not a bad seat in the house. And in actuality, a PA system was unnecessary. Good acoustics and the place was not that big.

But—the PA system was turned up so loud that it verged on the painful! At first, I thought that somebody had goofed and that it would be turned down, but no! After about the third song, we were thinking seriously about leaving. And several people did get up and leave. But we stuck it out. My ears rang for about three days afterward.

Good concert, I think. I don't remember much about it except how bloody loud it was.

I don't know what the sound folks were thinking, jamming the needles against the pegs like that. Bloody non compos mentis! Or, for that matter, Makem and Clancy for allowing it.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST,Ray
Date: 21 Jan 11 - 03:41 PM

A band I sometimes play with, but not on this occasion, were playing a miners gala in Rotherham. During a break a neighbour came in to complain about the noise their drummer was making. They showed him the stage to demonstrate that they didn't actually have a drummer and went outside and, yes, you could distinctly hear a drummer. Turns out that Bruce Springsteen and his band were playing ..... 5 miles down the road.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: Bernard
Date: 21 Jan 11 - 04:57 PM

What about this one, then...

Some years ago I was doing sound at a local theatre (Davenport, Stockport) for Maynard Ferguson and the band he was touring with at the time. Late 1980s, as I recall.

We were using a pair of Bose 802s for his foldback, and the Bose 1800 amplifier I was driving them with was clipping - but he wanted it louder...! He finally accepted that, as it was clipping, it wasn't going any louder... but I had complaints from the audience that he was far too loud. Nothing I could do, because he wasn't going through the main PA, and he wouldn't allow the foldback to be turned down! There was only his trumpet going through the foldback - he didn't want the band as well!!

He did explain that he'd got so used to playing big venues with loads of power that he couldn't manage without the monitors.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: Skivee
Date: 21 Jan 11 - 06:39 PM

8:24 Guest, I had much the same response when we were doing a New Years Eve show in a gym in Annapolis. The doorwatcher was told to not let in anybody during the sound check. He thought we were being needlessly cruel to the folks standing out in the cold, so we were amazed to see him letting people in anyway.
When our SE started exploring the acoustic properties of the room to find problem frequencies, he got some pretty harsh feedback.
Several folks dramatically clamped hands over their ears and started shouting about the noise.
I stopped that sound check, and told them that they were in early without our permission, that we knew it was painfully loud, that we needed this work done to insure the best sound during the actual concert, that our SE was doing his job, and that they could leave if they found it too much to bear; because the sound would not be lowered until we were satisfied with that aspect of the sound check.
We replaced the doorman.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: John P
Date: 21 Jan 11 - 08:01 PM

The first thing I do when I show up to play at a venue is make friends with the PA person. I've seen musicians offer abuse to the sound engineer and I've always thought it was the dumbest thing to do just before someone has your sound in his hands.

An old friend played in a rock band and usually used their own PA. He also did harmony vocals with a harmony machine. One show they had a singer-songwriter as an opening act who heaped abuse on them about the PA system. Lots of mean-spirited, foul abuse. Just before he started his first song, my friend pitch-shifted his vocal mike up by a quarter step. Instant karma!


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: Skivee
Date: 21 Jan 11 - 08:50 PM

BTW, for those who might not know him, Seamus Kennedy is a highly experienced (old) performer who knows how to use a microphone. If he wants to vary his vocal dynamics, he doesn't need that to be done by the sound engineer. Neither does the SE need to adjust what Seamus is doing.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST,Ray
Date: 22 Jan 11 - 05:56 AM

....oops! Ah the old harmoniser in the fold-back trick and the Davenport theatre - nostalgia isn't what it used to be! Do you remember the idiot they employed as a stage manager Bernard? A mate of mine said he wanted to throw him off the loading bay and another friend, who used to work part time as a follow spot operator, assured me someone already had.

Whilst we are into anecdotes, I once had a roadie testing a radio mic - 1,2 - 1,2 - 24, 13 , 65, 49....... Suddenly the back door burst open and a stranger came in asking if we were using a radio mic. Turned out that he was a bingo caller over the road and it was breaking through on his system.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 12:46 AM

I just fixed the sound on Ubuntu which has been playing up for months - it was distorted and crackly. I removed the 'Simultaneous Output to Audio Analog Stereo' output and reverted to just 'Internal Audio Analog Stereo' output.

Whee!

Yesterday i couldn't even spell 'Zound Inginar' - Now I are one!

I'll get me hat ...


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 12:57 AM

"I'm supposed to blow everybody out of their chairs to bring up the piano just for him. What can you do? You can't turn it up or it drown everything out. The mix is fine but he standing there expecting you to turn it up. So I turn up the volume of a knob on a channel I'm not using. Then I smile and shrug."

My brother once worked in a Big name hotel as a night porter. One night he had a rather strange lady check in - all sorts of requests. Room Service - kitchen closed - slapped a couple of pieces of bread etc together.

TV not working - well Adelaide TV closed at midnight in those days.

Curtains too short - tugged them 'Now they're longer ma'am'" - she was happy.

Went on till the police turned up asking if anyone had seen the escapee from the funny farm down the road ...


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 11:21 AM

Open air concert - no nasty acoustics or reflections to worry about - the world is your oyster - you can do almost anything with the sound and output levels - The manager of the venue informs us that there would be 6 enviornmental Officers spaced around the venue to ensure that the overall sound level would be monitored and the output must not go above 84dB with a top limit of 87dB (A weighted) all the sound level meters would be collated and recorded to a central lap-top pc.

At the interval the Manager threatened me with dismissal as the levels had exceeded the stated maximum which had reached 104dB and they were in danger of losing their venue licence - the Assitant audio engineer explained to the irate Manager that there was no volume control to take down the level of the audience clapping/screaming/whstling with sheer excitement at the bands performance - this increased level was thankfully recorded on the lap top at the end of each song - my grateful thanks to a decent audio assistant.......what next I ask !!!!.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 11:33 AM

Another gripe.
Band member (instrument immaterial) "Can I borrow some Gaffa tape?"
Me..."When do I get it back?"
Band Member "Do you have 5 batteries for my various (unnecessary) foot pedals"
Me..."Yes"
Band Member "Can I have them?"
Me..."No"
Finally, Could drummers please not rehearse their seminal 15 minute solo, whilst I'm attaching microphones to their kit. A punch in the face often offends.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST,Ray
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 12:36 PM

.......then was the time that a large morris side (run by a very well known and, I am told respected, British folk musician) insisted on rehearsing in the hall whilst we were trying to carry out sound checks.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 03:57 PM

"the output must not go above 84dB with a top limit of 87dB (A weighted)"

Haha! Music - 87 dBA !!!! Haha!

Big Fundy Fest (imported US Christian Rock Stars!) Easter Noise maker in City Residential Center Park - max 60 dBA! - well with 10,000,000 (approx, just counting speaker boxes!) Watts Bass Boost, easily exceeds 120 dBC on site, 100 dBC at road outside 85 dBC nonstop all weekend at houses - still reads 60dBA! .... all over town - heard 5 miles away ... :-) hard sleeping/thinking before the Council switched measurement to C scale - ever seen VHS cassettes DANCE on shelves (inside house, of course!) and things fall off shelves?!!!, 300 metres away? Feel air in chest vibrate like heart attack, inside house? And how many hours 'set up' do you think they need?!!!

Facebook comment by potential attendee "If my ears ain't ringing, then I want my money back"

Previous thread here on this money making bonanza ...


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 05:21 PM

87dBA was the requirement as the surrounding open land contained a Judges residence amomgst some other Stockbroker dealers residences....Oh how the super rich get treated eh....

Gutarists with dead PP3 Batteries and no spares are my pet hate along with - have you got a gtr lead ???.

Cheers everyone life is good in the fast lane.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 06:19 PM

I always carry a TESCO bag filled to the brim with guitar leads, various lengths/colours etc.
None of them work. But it's great to see the musos trying...
Then they complain to me...My answer....
"You asked for guitar leads, I gave you guitar leads. You're obviously not a very good guitarist then, if you can't tell if a lead is working"
Oh Yes, and bags full of dud batteries.p..." Yes, no problem mate. Have a look in there, Should be one that works"
On the other hand. Go to the local shop and buy one!
(Oh and I've found a company that makes Gaffa tape....Looks the real deal...Doesn't stick to anything. Works every time)
As a gigging musician over 3 decades, The 2 groups of people at a gig who make all the difference are The Sound Crew, and the Security staff.
Befriend them, and all will be well.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 24 Jan 11 - 06:59 AM

Seeing the mention of weighting, if Wikipedia right on this?

he curves were originally defined for use at different average sound levels, but A-weighting, though originally intended only for the measurement of low-level sounds (around 40 phon), is now commonly used for the measurement of environmental noise and industrial noise, as well as when assessing potential hearing damage and other noise health effects at all sound levels; indeed, the use of A-frequency-weighting is now mandated for all these measurements, although it is badly suited for these purposes, being only applicable to low levels so that it tends to devalue the effects of low frequency noise in particular
?


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 24 Jan 11 - 03:25 PM

"being only applicable to low levels so that it tends to devalue the effects of low frequency noise in particular"

Yep - which is WHY the Toowoomba Regional Council finally agreed after enormous pressure to accept dBC for music (with highly boosted bass eg 'Rock'). Of course it did require much faffing around like the mating of elephants, including having a State Attorney General resign shortly after having passed the buck to the State Environmental minister - she replied in a very condescending way that my 'concerns were needless as the dBA scale measured music of all frequencies, not just in the musical scale of C' ... !!!!!! I'm not making this shit up! That poor lady did seem to be a little politically accident prone though ...

There was the time I went to buy a 'weather gauge' gadget with combined temp, humidity and atmosphere pressure gadgets. Noticed that none of the readings on any of the items for sale were near each other - "those ones are still sealed in the plastic bags sir" .... open bags sealed with a bit of sticky tape - didn't buy one !!!!"

The sound info you have 'discovered' was not unhelpful during the battle ... :-) The Council 'chief sound engineer' did accept that dBA threw away a massive amount of the low frequency sound energy compared with dBC, the graphs were most helpful.

JiK was also of great assistance - it was interesting to know that pure 600 Hz at 40 dBA will ripple your coffee ..:-)

It was also interesting to find out that HF dissipates rapidly, whereas LF tends to 'flow along the ground' like an earthquake ... :-)

Trying to compare dBA with dBC especially for 'rock' with highly boosted bass is 'educational' ... :-)

The 'sound clowns' for this local event also do the 'carols by candlelight' with hysterical results. The sound for the prerecorded or live 'thumper musos' is enough to blast you out of your seats (why do you need a dozen mics on a drum kit?!!! - BALANCE!!!! the turn the bloody instrument amps down mate!!!), but when they then try to use a single long throw overhead mic to capture the 100+ voice choirs ... eh? what? can you you turn them up mate? can't hear them. what's that howling noise?

This same park hosts many other community events. Did you know that a dozen muskets doing 'rotating fire' drills (standing fire, kneel, reload, while the next wave walks thru, then fires, etc) can not be heard any where as far as the 'Easter amped up musos', and barely outside the park? A 'drug free event' - yet why are they loudly staggering all over town throwing up? Maybe they had too much 'Spirit of the Lord' ...

Did you know that when a symphony orchestra has to share the stage with 'rock thumpers', that the SO tech does the sound set up? (If we don't do it, we don't turn up!) And then the rockies say that they have never had better sound? :-)

Sigh ...


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: GUEST,Ray
Date: 25 Jan 11 - 11:50 AM

Bet you can't beat the time we actually had a write up in the Telegraph for a soundcheck! I was trying to sort the drum sound in the opera theatre at the RNCM in Manchester whilst the BBC were broadcasting from the studio theatre next door. They came in to ask us to keep the noise down to which my reply was that they had hired us the theatre and if it was faulty that was their problem.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 25 Jan 11 - 03:20 PM

Ah well, I'm out on Friday for the first time in ages - I only do it for a bit of fun. It's a good opportunity to inventory the kit and retrieve the bits that have been on long term loan. I was lucky enough to get some classic Celestion horns a while back and this will be their first time out in anger. They are reputed to be very sweet and they certainly sound nice in my drawing room.


I normally carry a little HiFi amp to power some headphones so that I can listen to the foldback mixes and make sure that every instrument is in there at a sensible level. It gets a bit exciting on the eardrums doing above the FoH during performance.

One of the bands I lent a 300 watt driver (an Eminence pro series) to to replace the 100 watt one they had blown in a foldback wedge. They were driving it with a little old H/H. I did say "NO kick drum in the foldback". When I got it back they had succeeded in ripping it off the edge suspension all the way round! I'll be watching them this time.

The other band I lend stuff to I had a hell of a row with the drummer. He kept saying "Just stick an SM58 in the kick drum, it'll do the job". I had to get the WHOLE of the band out front and make them listen as I changed mics to persuade him.

I have, however, NEVER succeeded in getting anything the size of a BOSE 1800 into clipping on foldback.   A Hill DX700, yes, but that's a fair bit smaller.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: josepp
Date: 25 Jan 11 - 04:02 PM

@ Ralphie

This was for a jazz society whose musicians were union. They get paid whether the show goes on or not. When they begged me to do the sound after they hounded my predecessor out of the position, I was so thrilled that I offered to do them for free. They said no, I'll get paid the union wage which was nice of them but I realized shortly after that I was getting paid so that they could heap abuse on me--I'm getting paid so what am I complaining about?

What happened was a guy took the cover off his piano at one show making it impossible to mic and I told him so. The other musicians sided with him--if he wants to take it off then let him take it off, they said. I kept protesting that I can't mic a piano with the cover off but to no avail. Then, of course, no soundcheck. The show was a total disaster--horrible. Of course I was to blame. Of all the shows I did for them which were smashing successes, this one was the only bad one and they were the cause. But the band was pissed off and they told the director they never ever wanted to work with me again. A lady who overheard the whole thing told me all about it. She said the director, Bill, told them, "Ok, he's gone. But don't expect me to hire him back. I'm not a yo-yo."

Then Bill had to find a new soundman and was forced to go to a professional company. These guys were more expensive than me and wouldn't put up with anybody's shit. And they demanded a soundcheck a half-hour before the show began or they pack up and leave and they still have to be paid. This pissed off the musicians who refuse to do soundchecks. When people went up to them and said, "I can't hear the piano." They got, "Go sit down!" as a response. Something I would never do--but maybe I should have.

So now all the members of this society wanted these guys gone. What was wrong with Josepp? they asked.   Get him back, he was polite and everyone liked him and his sound was great. But Bill said no. Under no circumstances would he beg me to come back after the musicians demanded he get rid of me. And I wouldn't have gone back anyway without putting the same demands on them that these other guys did but, in truth, I wasn't interested in doing it anymore.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: Bernard
Date: 25 Jan 11 - 05:05 PM

Richard - just try a trumpet blown by the likes of Maynard Ferguson into an SM58 at VERY close range... EVERYTHING lights up!!

;o)


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: Bernard
Date: 25 Jan 11 - 05:09 PM

As for miking a piano - a PZM blu-tacked to the soundboard works a treat! Opposite side of the board to the strings, of course - underneath if it's a grand, or on the back of an upright.

Okay, not ideal for recording, but that's not what we're talking about.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: josepp
Date: 25 Jan 11 - 05:57 PM

I didn't have a piano pickup. I miked it with two mikes positioned over the soundboard inside the housing (it was a spinet). It's always worked great and it's how you would do it in the studio). But the pianist took the front cover off which completely exposes the soundboard to the player but all the sound flows out the big hole and misses the mics which now pickup everything outside--other instruments, monitors, everything. With a soundcheck, I could have showed them how it wasn't going to work and that I could turn up the piano in the monitors instead but those guys don't listen. They think the soundman is supposed accomodate them under any and all circumstances.

Now, I would like to say that MOST of the musicians in this society were cool and I enjoyed working with them. It was just a few that made trouble for me but they were by far the most influential. I wouldn't mind working with the other musicians outside the context of the society but I haven't seen any of them in years and some are, no doubt, dead. I hate it when you tell them that they're making it impossible to mic them properly and they say not to to worry about it like they understand your situation but they clearly don't as was evident by their complete dissatisfaction with the terrible sound they brought on themselves by not listening to the guy whose job it is to make them sound great. And instead of apologizing for not heeding him, blame the whole thing on him instead and get him canned.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound Engineers
From: Don Firth
Date: 25 Jan 11 - 07:40 PM

Thank God I never got into that bag!

Most of the places where I've sung didn't require a sound system. "Pamir House," a coffeehouse, seated about forty people at most, and it was not much larger than many living rooms. "The Place Next Door" had a capacity of about seventy-five or eighty with no sound system necessary, although later, when Stan James bought it, he changed the name to "The Corroboree," and changed the internal layout. He also did put in a sound system, but it was hardly necessary. Since I was on the stage in front of the mic and he was in the back of the room, he knew what I sounded like and I didn't, so I left it to him. "El Matador," also no sound system necessary. A half-dozen other coffeehouses, no sound system needed.

The Seattle Center Playhouse, 800 seat capacity, great acoustics, no sound system needed, although there was one available. Didn't use it. Nor did Richard Dyer-Bennet when he sang there.

Singing at the Sunday afternoon concerts at United Nations Pavilion during the Seattle World's Fair in summer of 1962, there was a PA system, but with several hundred people sitting on the grass in a half-circle in front of the singers, it wasn't really necessary. A year later, during the Seattle Center Hootenannies during the summer, when the weather was gorpy, we sang in Center House, which was a huge space—the old National Guard Armory. The acoustics were very echoey and it did need some sound engineering, but there again, I left it to those who knew what they were doing. Outdoors during good weather, we drew crowds of up to 16,000 (police department estimate) into the amphitheater in front of the Horiuchi Mural, and there was a PA system there.

During the Northwest Folklife Festivals, there were PA systems everywhere, in both indoor and outdoor venues. All handled by pros, who knew more about sound systems that I did (do).

Never had a problem.

I saved a lot of money and general wear and tear by not getting bogged down in electronic gear. I play an acoustic classical (nylon-string) guitar. No pick-ups, no wires. Just a very good, resonant guitar. And I have a pretty big voice (don't sing opera, but other than sounding like a frog in a rain-barrel, I probably could).

One afternoon years ago, I was meeting a friend at a local tavern, and I got there way early. During the evenings, a small jazz combo played there. They'd left their instruments on the band stand. I knew the bartender-owner, and he asked me if I'd like to try out the guitar. Standard solid bodied electric guitar with about thirty pounds of pick-ups, switches, and knobs bolted to it. He assured me the guitar's owner wouldn't mind. I'd never played an electric before, so I said, "Sure!" He flipped the switch and I sat there for about a half-hour goofing around on it until my friend arrived.

My Gawd, all that power at the turn of a knob!

Travis picking, classic pieces, and flamenco (!!) take on a whole new dimension and magnitude on a gadget like that!

But like a potential drug addict being offered his first opportunity to main-line, I grabbed myself by the scruff of the neck and pulled myself back from the brink! I realized that that way lies depravity and madness! And expense! All those amplifiers and other gear to buy! I was about to run screaming when my friend dropped in, we had a beer and some quite conversation, and my heart rate returned to normal.

I buy my classic guitar new strings regularly, but that's the only thing it requires of me. Except to be played a lot.

I've sung in a lot of different venues, but my favorite is the small, intimate and personal house concert. It harks back to the days of the minstrels and troubadours.

Don Firth

P. S. Speaking of minstrels and troubadours, I once sang at a benefit where a lot of other musicians were performing. One of them was a lutenist. Anachronistically enough, he had equipped the lute with a contact mic going to an amplifier and big speaker. Weird!!


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