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Sound Guys

Posted: Wed Oct 29, 2003 11:21 am
by NatureBoy
I realize sound guys have a hard job (or maybe it's not too bad, what do I know?) but are there venues around Seattle notorious for bad levels at shows?

Some friends of mine are in a band, and it seems hit or miss a lot of the time. Is it more about the sound guy or the venue?

Posted: Wed Oct 29, 2003 12:12 pm
by grant
It can be about both of those things, or neither. It can be about humidity. It can be about cables being in a particularly bad mood that evening. It can be about half-dead batteries in an effects pedal or a condenser mic, or RF interference from a low-flying plane. It can be about an air-conditioner tightening the heads of a drum 1/8th of an inch. More commonly, it can be about a PA system of such character that it does certain things well only if one treats it in a certain way.

A good sound person, however, knows how to compensate for all these things. A good sound person is one who is able to listen.

Posted: Thu Oct 30, 2003 2:06 pm
by Bel and the Dragon
There was once a very beligerent soundguy I had to deal with at the 929 Cafe in Richmond, VA. It was a medium sized place with a decent sound system, which of course pumps you up, awaiting an evening filled with orgasmic fidelity. Our hopes were instantly crushed when this guy was shouting orders like Gen. Patton or MacArthur and making statements such as, "I used to do sound for Eddie Money, so I think I know what you need." Anyways, the guy had his own opinions (meaning not listening to us) on what we should have in our wedges and made us DI the guitars.

When you find a great soundman, you treasure that experience like a stereotypical boyhood memory of Christmas.


-Ian-

Posted: Tue Nov 18, 2003 5:09 pm
by sean
it is a truth, in my experience, and not just a truism, that most sound guys are frustrated musicians, and usually guitarists, who definitely think they know what's best for a band. and given that they almost invariably have never heard a given band before the evening that band arrives and starts setting up, the tendency for the engineer not to ask what the band wants or likes is mind-blowingly predictable. moreover, the sound guy has the power to completely destroy/ distort a musician's perception of a performance, and the degree to which vendetta is involved is never to be underestimated.

it is, however, important to remember that each venue's gear is different and every sound person has the potential, or at least the capacity, to treat a band well.

for more on the psychology of the sound guy-band interaction, i highly recommend that you seek out a copy of coring tucker's circa '97 zine "hey soundguy!" it has some of the best writing i've seen on this deeply fertile subject.

Posted: Sat Feb 07, 2004 2:37 pm
by zeoscope
The last open mic I played, the sound mixer was right next to me, but the guy running it wouldn't let me set anything. I told him that I knew how to use it, but he wouldn't listen to me. It peaved me quite a bit cause my guitar was made to sound so lame and flat and the mix between me and the keyboards was totally off. Everything just sounded bad.

I have been both a sound guy as well as a lighting tech, but sound is what I did most. To do sound right takes a lot of attention to detail as well as listening to whoever is going to be on the other end of the mic. It's lots of fun and I'd recommend sound teching for anyone that's in a band to get an idea of what both sides have to work with. Another thing, when you're a sound guy, don't try to make the band sound like you want them to, make them sound like what they want to sound like.