Running the soundboard for the first time

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DanielArDanielAr Frets: 0
in Live
A friend asked me to fill in running the sound board for their band. I've never done anything like this before. I agreed to do it to help friends out.

I got a review of the setup and sat with the real sound guy at the last gig. I generally understand how they have everything connected. I know how the various controls work and interact and I've heard the band play multiple times at multiple venues. I'm concerned that they will sound like crap and I won't hear it or I won't know how to improve it.

The expectations for the fill-in (2 night) gig are low. The room is setup awkward and not great acoustically plus it will be filled with mostly drunk partiers. 

Even so, I want to do the best I can. I have probably one more gig where I can sit with the real sound guy and observe. He's a really nice guy and does a great job.

Any advice or tips?
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Comments

  • revsorgrevsorg Frets: 560
    Maybe ask if you can do a trial by fire at the next gig where the "real" sound guy takes a back seat and tells you where you're going wrong.

    If you're anything like me you'll miss more cues than you hit when you're starting out.

    Personally I find the whole thing fascinating and wish I'd got into it sooner.
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  • robinbowesrobinbowes Frets: 1982
    The hardest thing to learn is how to listen objectively. Once you can do that the rest is relatively easy. 
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  • Danny1969Danny1969 Frets: 3809

    Basically it depends on what board it is as to what you can do. Assuming it's analog then this a very basic guide to basic mixing

    Layout the channels so it makes sense ... like 

    Chan 1 Kick
    Chan 2 Snare 
    Chan 3 rack tom
    Chan 4 floor tom
    Chan 5 bass
    Chan 6 guitar
    Chan 7 guitar
    Chan 8 keys 
    Chan 9 keys
    Chan 10 spare
    Chan 11 spare
    Chan 12 vocal laft
    Chan 13 vocal centre
    Chan 14 vocal right

    Obviously you might only have 8 channels and no keys but you get the idea ... logical layout rather than chan 1 kick, chan 2 lead vocal etc

    Get some white tape and a sharpie and make what channel is what

    Set your PFL vocal level conservatively on sound check ... bearing in mind their actual singing will be way louder than the mumbling down the mic in soundcheck

    If you have hi pass filters on the channels use them on everything except bass guitar and kick drum.

    Always try to cut rather than boost EQ ... if is sounds a bit muddy cut some lower mid rather than trying to boost the highs...this will help avoid feedback 

    Keep your master fader at 0dB and mix on the channel faders, this way you won't run out of headroom on the master bus. 

    Kill any reverb and delay effects at the end of every song by muting their returns. If using delay try matching the delay time to the tempo of the song, a lot of desk have tap tempo for this

    in the event of anything not working don't just keep winding the levels up, investigate why. The biggest rookie mistakes you see are things like winding more and more monitor send out of the desk and wondering why you can't hear it and then realising the monitor bus is muted so un-muting it without turn the sends back down ..... cue a world of feedback and punters covering their ears :) ... Always stop and think before you do something 

    At smaller venues it's sound reinforcement, not sound reproduction so the vocals are generally the most important thing. You need the vocals heard but not overly "Karaoke" loud ... they need to sit in the mix rather than on top of it. Compression here can help if used in small doses but you might not have any. Sometimes you just gotta ride the vocal to keep it where it should be. 




    www.2020studios.co.uk 
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 37433
    What Danny said.

    I would also add...

    Get a *good sounding* mix and then raise the volume until feedback becomes a problem, not a *loud as possible* sound and then try to fight the feedback by altering the mix. It's always better.

    Try to get a balanced mix with roughly equal amounts of energy at all frequencies - don't just turn the kick drum and bass up as far as they'll go because it's easy to do without feedback.

    Mixing by EQ - ie narrowing the frequency bands of the instruments if necessary - is more effective than mixing by volume... you get a clearer mix without the individual volumes being as critical.

    Everyone knows what a well-mixed recording sounds like, because they hear one every time they listen to the radio/CD/Spotify or whatever. As long as it sounds roughly the same you're doing OK. It should be reasonably obvious if anything is too loud or inaudible.
    "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." - Walt Kowalski

    "Just because I don't care, doesn't mean I don't understand." - Homer Simpson
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  • revsorgrevsorg Frets: 560
    Danny1969 said:

    At smaller venues it's sound reinforcement, not sound reproduction so the vocals are generally the most important thing. You need the vocals heard but not overly "Karaoke" loud ... they need to sit in the mix rather than on top of it. Compression here can help if used in small doses but you might not have any. Sometimes you just gotta ride the vocal to keep it where it should be. 
    Danny - can you expand on this please?  Is another way of saying this that the drums can't be turned down?
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  • maltingsaudiomaltingsaudio Frets: 1062
    edited May 5
    I agree with all points here except the bit about compression. If you don’t know what it does and how to use it leave it alone! I find that most beginners in engineering are led to believe or are taught a compressor will sort all mixing problems.

    Having read what the op is up against best option for him is to take a picture of the desk after the last gig with their engineer and use that as his template and gently tweak the settings to suit.

    The trick to getting vocals heard in a loud mix is to reduce the volume of everything else in the mix. I know this sounds obvious, but by reducing it never ceases to amaze me how much dropping the faders by a couple of dB on instruments allows the vocals to cut through.

    Ps personal whinge I hate the term soundboard, to me it’s like calling strings the wires
    www.maltingsaudio.co.uk
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