The Sound Guy Speaks! What does he do?

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My first shot at a blog post!  This is Eric, your friendly neighborhood sound guy.

At most of the shows, you will find me sitting where the band can see me. I serve two main functions. First, it is my job to make sure that you hear the best show I can.  That means getting the balance just right between the instruments, vocals, and any effects processors we use.  I can also turn the overall volume level up or down.

My second job is to make sure that the band can hear themselves.  When we started all those years ago, we used monitor speakers to let the band hear what the other members are doing.  But, the challenge with monitor speakers is that we would occasionally get feedback.  It is amazing how fast you can clear a bar with feedback.  So we upgraded our kit.  We got a soundboard (mixer) that has automatic feedback suppression.  This was good, but add in a new factor (like Phil coming up to sing with glasses on) and now the feedback can come and bite us mid-show.  Then the band got in-ear monitors.  This was the final solution to the feedback problem (for most songs).  It eliminated the speakers pointing back at the microphones, and allows each member to get a private mix.  Paul wants less drum, no reverb, and a little bit of Erin, and needs a fairly strong amount of Brian’s vocals, etc.

So as we start our show, Merrick does the hard work of setting up the stage.  I will go through and check the settings on all the equipment.  Then I will check each of the vocal microphones to make sure there is an adequate signal. Then we are ready for sound check.  The band will typically do an instrumental and a dual vocal check.  This will allow me to balance the sound, both for the house and the in-ear monitors.

As the gig starts, there are often small changes that are needed.  For the house, I will adjust as necessary.  For the in-ear monitors, the band will ask for more or less of a given signal.  As the show progresses, I will slightly tweak the balance.  Songs that have a quiet start may need to be boosted to make sure we can hear guitar or vocal, but as the song moves louder, we need to go back to the previous settings.  At set breaks, I will mute everything just to avoid a hot microphone causing a distraction to the house.

Every so often, there is a problem.  Fibber’s is a very complex WIFI environment, and we often lose connection to the board with my IPad.  Sometimes to finish the set, I will need to set next to the board on stage.  Then I rely on our superfans, Lissa, Phil, Rose, etc. to signal me if balance changes are necessary.  We are working on a solution to this issue, but it is a pain at the moment.

Then there are the other shows, where we use house sound equipment.  Very frustrating to the sound guy.  This is not to take away from the house sound people or equipment.  We have specific effects processors and settings that have literally been years in development to get our “SOUND”.  I balance so that the guy’s vocals are balanced at the top of the sound pyramid, then the fiddle, the guitar and then the drum. But every sound guy gets what they think is a sweet spot.  (but, of course, only MINE is RIGHT. 😉)

If you like the sound let me know.  If you want a tour of the soundboard and our equipment, I am happy to show you.  Just not during a set.

1 thought on “The Sound Guy Speaks! What does he do?

  1. Penelope Marie Campana

    Hi Eric! Behind every great band is a great sound guy and his crew. Open Beta is just that great and you do a fantastic job. Of course I have to give kudos to Merrick too. (I’m so prejudiced…LOL).
    Thanks for the setup rundown. Very informational. I had no idea how it all came together. Bravo Eric!


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