Useless Soundmen

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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 13139
    Sensible. But you are right, bass players are generally less hassle
    ...apart from always playing too loudly. :)

    R.
    You can't win them all...
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  • maltingsaudiomaltingsaudio Frets: 876
    edited December 2017
    Channel numbering unless it’s your own gig with your own engineer is as Danny et al say drums bass guitars keys brass nose flutes then vocals working from channel 1 to whatever. This is expected norm and means if a visiting engineer rocks up to your desk at a festival/gig he has a fighting chance of winning quickly. 

    Thing about doing sound is, if it all goes swimmingly then the band were brilliant, if it goes badly it’s the sound engineers fault.

    As to engineers do bear this in mind, if it’s a proper job and set up, the guy providing the PA has invested far more than any musician in his gear and as it’s his income so has a vested interest in getting it right but can only work with what he is presented with. The problem I see with the  younger engineers just  out of uni with degrees is they can only work with what they’ve been taught and aspire to, therefor if you don’t provide a digico desk and DPA mics they whinge, and think the gig is below their level.And if a cable goes down somewhere in the signal chain they are completely knackered! (Tip for evaluating any musician ask them to explain the signal chain)
    www.maltingsaudio.co.uk
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 30907
    Sensible. But you are right, bass players are generally less hassle
    ...apart from always playing too loudly. :)

    R.
    You can't win them all...
    But having at least 500W behind you does give you a fighting chance.

    :)

    The thing I find most baffling about some sound engineers - including many at big, professional venues - is that the mix is crap. Why? Anyone who has ever listened to recorded music instinctively knows what a good mix sounds like - basically one where you can hear everything and nothing is overpoweringly loud. So why do so many live mixes consist of overpoweringly boomy kick drum and bass, and inaudible muffled vocals? Sometimes with either harsh or muddy guitars thrown in for good measure.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • ICBM said:

    The thing I find most baffling about some sound engineers - including many at big, professional venues - is that the mix is crap. Why? Anyone who has ever listened to recorded music instinctively knows what a good mix sounds like - basically one where you can hear everything and nothing is overpoweringly loud. So why do so many live mixes consist of overpoweringly boomy kick drum and bass, and inaudible muffled vocals? Sometimes with either harsh or muddy guitars thrown in for good measure.
    Yes! This!

    I understand that you don't always get a sound check, e.g at festivals, but on more than one occasion I've heard engineers sorting out the drum kit one piece at a time before getting a rough, overall mix. Half a song of kick drum! Bonkers!

    R.
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  • ICBM said:

    The thing I find most baffling about some sound engineers - including many at big, professional venues - is that the mix is crap. Why? Anyone who has ever listened to recorded music instinctively knows what a good mix sounds like - basically one where you can hear everything and nothing is overpoweringly loud. So why do so many live mixes consist of overpoweringly boomy kick drum and bass, and inaudible muffled vocals? Sometimes with either harsh or muddy guitars thrown in for good measure.
    Yes! This!

    I understand that you don't always get a sound check, e.g at festivals, but on more than one occasion I've heard engineers sorting out the drum kit one piece at a time before getting a rough, overall mix. Half a song of kick drum! Bonkers!

    R.
    Related matter, when you hear festival footage and it sounds poo are the broadcasters just taking a stereo bus out of the desk and hoping that’s good enough? 
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  • ICBM said:

    The thing I find most baffling about some sound engineers - including many at big, professional venues - is that the mix is crap. Why? Anyone who has ever listened to recorded music instinctively knows what a good mix sounds like - basically one where you can hear everything and nothing is overpoweringly loud. So why do so many live mixes consist of overpoweringly boomy kick drum and bass, and inaudible muffled vocals? Sometimes with either harsh or muddy guitars thrown in for good measure.

    Can't disagree with this :)

    The other one I don’t get it obsessively labouring over the mix at sound check in a vast empty room, completely discounting in the effect that a room full of people are going to have on the treble response of said room once the crown get in.

    That and spending about 40 minutes on the kick drum and 10 seconds on the rest of the band ;)

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  • Danny1969Danny1969 Frets: 3538
    ICBM said:

    The thing I find most baffling about some sound engineers - including many at big, professional venues - is that the mix is crap. Why? Anyone who has ever listened to recorded music instinctively knows what a good mix sounds like - basically one where you can hear everything and nothing is overpoweringly loud. So why do so many live mixes consist of overpoweringly boomy kick drum and bass, and inaudible muffled vocals? Sometimes with either harsh or muddy guitars thrown in for good measure.

    Can't disagree with this :)

    The other one I don’t get it obsessively labouring over the mix at sound check in a vast empty room, completely discounting in the effect that a room full of people are going to have on the treble response of said room once the crown get in.

    That and spending about 40 minutes on the kick drum and 10 seconds on the rest of the band ;)

    I also notice a room full of people in Winter sounds different to a room full in summer due to the bulkier coats and such. As for obsessive kick drum disorder ! ..... well to many engineers their kick drum sound and punch is their badge of honour and they do literally devote too much time to it at the expense of (in my view) more important things like the vocals. 

    One thing people sometimes don't take into account though is most live mix's are a compromise. High frequencies lose their energy in air quicker than low frequencies ...that means sometimes you can't have too much treble half way down the field without killing the people at he front with an over bright harsh mix. The only way to overcome these physics problems is to use high steerable arrays but that can cost a lot in rigging, setup time and hire cost.
    www.2020studios.co.uk 
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  • ESBlondeESBlonde Frets: 2234
    It should be remembered that hot and humid air effects sound greatly, modern digital controllers (expensive ones mainly) will respond to sensors placed about the venue and compensate for the changes. This helps with cold empty rooms and full hot steamy gigs, but good and experienced engineers instinctively compensate for full and empty venues at spound check.
    It's not about the gear either, I saw the Eagles at the old Wembly stadium some years back. I can't remember the support act, some young artist on the same label getting exposure. But they let loose a youth opportunities lad for the support and it sounded awful, bassy, indistinct, painful etc. 30 mins later the Eagles took to the stage and it sounded like the album in mix and quality. OK they probably had a longer sound check with the headliner but the support singer was to tracks!
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  • Danny1969 said:

    As for obsessive kick drum disorder ! ..... well to many engineers their kick drum sound and punch is their badge of honour and they do literally devote too much time to it at the expense of (in my view) more important things like the vocals.
    I knew there had to be a reason for it and now I know :)


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  • bbill335bbill335 Frets: 604
    ICBM said:

    The thing I find most baffling about some sound engineers - including many at big, professional venues - is that the mix is crap. Why? Anyone who has ever listened to recorded music instinctively knows what a good mix sounds like - basically one where you can hear everything and nothing is overpoweringly loud. So why do so many live mixes consist of overpoweringly boomy kick drum and bass, and inaudible muffled vocals? Sometimes with either harsh or muddy guitars thrown in for good measure.
    Most recent gig observation after sitting in on the soundcheck for a relatively successful (BBC 6music played their single a lot when it came out) guitar-based band: sound guy spends ages agonising over the kit sound, pestering the drummer to tune his tom -  to which, the much less anal drummer replied with something to the effect of "it's a battered skin that's as tight as it's gonna go, it's fine". In his attempt to satisfy his boner for overwhelming kick drum sounds, he got the kick sound so it was "fuckin sick man" at the back of the room. Anywhere nearer the stage and all you could hear was kick. There was no bass guitar AT ALL. Just kick, that fucking tom, and a sprinkle of guitar and vocal just peeping over the top when.

    The other thing is that every show I go to lately is just too loud, even with my obsessive use of earplugs. Even a good, well-balanced and rich mix sounds shit when it deafens you. Maybe venues have overpowering subs that touring sound guys don't know how to balance so everything just gets pushed up, maybe they're used to bigger, better rooms in London/Manchester/wherever, but I feel like I would have a much better time at the last few shows I've seen if they turned it down a touch. What kind of dick-waving mentality means you HAVE to be pushing against the ceiling of the legal noise limit? It's not even like it's big amps turned up and sounding glorious, it's just sterile PAs pushing out a crushing volume.
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  • sweepysweepy Frets: 1649
    High onstage sound levels make a sound mans job nigh on impossible, turn the damn thangs down people
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 30907
    bbill335 said:

    Most recent gig observation after sitting in on the soundcheck for a relatively successful (BBC 6music played their single a lot when it came out) guitar-based band: sound guy spends ages agonising over the kit sound, pestering the drummer to tune his tom -  to which, the much less anal drummer replied with something to the effect of "it's a battered skin that's as tight as it's gonna go, it's fine". In his attempt to satisfy his boner for overwhelming kick drum sounds, he got the kick sound so it was "fuckin sick man" at the back of the room. Anywhere nearer the stage and all you could hear was kick. There was no bass guitar AT ALL. Just kick, that fucking tom, and a sprinkle of guitar and vocal just peeping over the top when.

    The other thing is that every show I go to lately is just too loud, even with my obsessive use of earplugs. Even a good, well-balanced and rich mix sounds shit when it deafens you. Maybe venues have overpowering subs that touring sound guys don't know how to balance so everything just gets pushed up, maybe they're used to bigger, better rooms in London/Manchester/wherever, but I feel like I would have a much better time at the last few shows I've seen if they turned it down a touch. What kind of dick-waving mentality means you HAVE to be pushing against the ceiling of the legal noise limit? It's not even like it's big amps turned up and sounding glorious, it's just sterile PAs pushing out a crushing volume.
    I've done a fair bit of amateur/free-beer sound engineering for other bands as well as often doing my own band. My approach has always been to take the maximum volume you can get the vocals to with a good mix, as the maximum volume you can use - irrespective of whether that's well below what the system is capable of with the kick drum or the bass. I think far too many sound engineers do the opposite, and end up having to take all the top-end off the vocals and keep them too quiet, thus making them inaudible, because they can't get them up as high as they've already set the rest of the band.

    I have usually been complimented on the mix I get - by the audience. I have sometimes been moaned at by bands for not making them loud enough, I admit... but if it's a choice between moderate volume and a good mix, and as loud as possible but shit, I'll always pick the first. Punters always want to hear the vocals.

    I've also never once asked a drummer to tune their kit. The only time I've ever heard it be necessary - not me doing sound, I was just in the band - was somewhere where the kick drum happened to be at the exact resonant frequency of the room, so it would make the room 'ring' after every beat and instantly turned the whole mix to mud - no alternative other than to ask the drummer to re-tune it. Assuming the band aren't totally clueless or there isn't an actual problem like that, in my opinion it's not the sound engineer's job to tell them how to set up their gear.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • The best one i had was the sound guy messing with the Volume and eq settings on MY amp, and saying yep that should do it, even before I plugged the thing in and switched it on!!!!!!!!
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  • Nothing to add but really enjoying this thread, it sums up my own experiences perfectly. Apart from ESP of Yeovil who are superb!
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  • HHwarner said:
    The best one i had was the sound guy messing with the Volume and eq settings on MY amp, and saying yep that should do it, even before I plugged the thing in and switched it on!!!!!!!!
    As a sound engineer and guitarist, I'd punch any fucker in the throat who touched my gear on stage.

    :)

    R.
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  • I used to do simple sound reinforcement and general stage management at the local arts centre for small-scale jazz or blues gigs. On one occasion there was this band with a couple of middle-aged wimmin singers who told me their mics didn't work. So I went on the stage and said something into each mic, which they heard, so I went to the back of the venue behind the desk and they told me the mics had stopped working again. They were dynamic mics, and these silly cows refused to get close up to them, they inisted that they should be able to sing 2 feet away from the mic and then they blamed me because the mics weren't picking them up. They had such a PITA attitude that I told the arts centre not to book them again, and they didn't, at least until I stopped working there ...

    "Useless Soundman"
    "Working" software has only unobserved bugs. (Parroty Error: Pieces of Nine! Pieces of Nine!)
    Seriously: If you value it, take/fetch it yourself
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  • I’ve lost count of the number of stupid and PITA musicians I’ve had to deal with, but as they say never argue with them as they’ll drag you down to their level then win on experience
    www.maltingsaudio.co.uk
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  • slackerslacker Frets: 909
    edited December 2017
    I've done a lot of bottom feeder free stuff and generally the sound people and musicians are generally awful. In my experience ability is inverse to competence. The worse they are the less they listen. 

    Whatever I do I try to make things as easy or hard as possible for other people depending on your perspective. I'll make it easy to get right or hard to get wrong. My bass amp has a really good DI with choices post pre etc. My guitar amps have volumes and if I know the venue/sound is bad I'll take a 57 and a mic stand. If I do sound I'll just reinforce whats there. 

    I have played at venues with truly gifted sound people and it is a pleasure to work with them.

    I did a youth gig at a church many years ago and we took our own sound engineer. Due to a miscommunication the church had an engineer. He would not let our one do the gig. So we sent him on an errand and posted look outs whilst our engineer set all the gains and eqs and fixed the left channel which was inaudible. 

    The house (of God) engineer returned did a sound check and announced that he was awesome as the desk was sounding good or something along those lines. 

    I once filled in on sound for a local festival to allow the sound guy a break The desk was set 3 bands ago. All I got the whole set was comments from punters on how bad the sound was. So I nodded enthusiastically pretended to turn knobs, waited for the sound guy to return and went to the bar. No way I could turn the vocals up, too late for that. Bass drum sounded epic






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  • p90foolp90fool Frets: 7721
    I mix my own band on small gigs, starting from the vocals and working backwards.
    I do vocals, rhythm guitar, bass, drums, then self mix my own guitar as we get going. My mantra is vocals, vocals, vocals, nothing must get in the way.

    In other pub bands I hear a lot of huge-sounding drums and bass, guitars which sound like someone hoovering in the next room and platform announcer vocals.  

    Some people associate low frequencies with high quality, maybe it's a hangover from tranny radio/cheap practice amp days, and a lot of bands seem to be mixed by the sort of bellends who have huge car stereos. 

    Good engineers are a joy to work with and to listen to though, just like great musicians are. 
    I played a no-soundcheck festival gig recently in a five piece rock band, the next band were an acoustic 8-piece made up of all kinds of home-made instruments, weird percussion and five singers. Changeover time was 15 mins, and the guy behind the desk had them sounding ok in the first few bars, more than passable by the second verse, and awesome during the next song.

    As an amateur dabbler it's the sort of job which would've terrified me, but the guy was fantastic. 


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  • Emp_FabEmp_Fab Frets: 12717
    I love people who really know what they're doing - in all walks of life.  It's a pleasure to watch a seasoned hand at work.  Quality seems to becoming rarer these days though.
    98% shouting at clouds and 2% laminate flooring
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