Sound engineering tips

5 EQ mistakes you had no idea you were making

EQ is probably the most important tool within a sound engineer's arsenal. It glues together the sound and can bring otherwise dull, lifeless elements of a mix to life (naming no names or particular musical instruments, of course…). Unfortunately, it can also destroy a mix if you get it wrong. With that in mind, we've put together what we believe to be the five most common EQ mistakes made by live sound engineers, no matter their level of experience: 1. You're not being [...]

7 questions to ask yourself about your live mix

Self-critiquing your own mix is inherently tricky, because very few of us want to admit that we’ve got something wrong. And that’s a shame, because usually, we have got something wrong. That’s life - none of us are perfect. Live sound demands a significant degree of honesty with oneself if you’re to put together the best possible mix for a gig. With that in mind, we’ve decided to list seven questions you should ask yourself during the soundcheck and the gig [...]

How to become a freelance sound engineer

The freelancing economy in the UK is booming. Since 2009, it has grown by 25% and now generates an estimated £109 billion every year. Some industries have been well attuned to freelance workers for some time, and nowhere is that more true than in the field of pro audio, where freelance sound engineers regularly rub shoulders with lighting techs, roadies and tour managers who have all shunned regular employment for their own mini enterprises. If you’re determined to make it as [...]

4 live sound mistakes you won’t want to make twice

We all make mistakes - we’re human, after all. In live sound, errors often pass by unnoticed by the majority of those in attendance. Sure, as the engineer, you might rue your decision to push up a fader or curse your inability to find the frequency at the heart of the booming, but the chances of such mistakes ruining the night are satisfyingly low. Then, there’s the big stuff - the mistakes which will put a significant damper on the night [...]

How to work with the lighting tech as a sound engineer

Sound and light should work in perfect harmony at live gigs, and to the audience, that’s (nearly) always the case. If everything goes swimmingly, they’ll be treated to great sound reproduction and a dazzling stage illumination. Behind the scenes, things might be rather different, for as long as gigging has existed, there has often been an inexplicable divide between the lighting and sound teams. It doesn’t necessarily manifest itself in fisticuffs, but it’s there, and can result in two silos [...]

How to deal with “TURN IT DOWN!” requests as the sound engineer

The tell tale signs are obvious. They’ve been sitting there for the first half of the show, constantly straining their neck to glance around at the mixing desk. They do this consistently every thirty seconds or so, before returning to face the band, occasionally muttering something to their partner. Then, it happens. They sidle up to the desk, lean over it (usually with drink in hand, haphazardly sloshing its contents all over the EQ and FX knobs) and shout “turn [...]

How to pick the best mixer for live gigs

As much as we love line arrays, big amps and system controllers, an audio engineer is never going to get particularly far without the humble mixing desk. They’re the hub of any live audio gig into which every input and output connects. They’re sweated over during the performance, tweaked, fiddled, occasionally bashed and monitored almost constantly. Put simply, the mixer plays perhaps the most crucial role when it comes to ‘gluing’ a gig together. But how do you pick the right one? [...]

Traditional PA vs Line Array: what’s best for you?

All public address (although, let’s stick with ‘PA’) systems feature a few things in common. They consist of speakers, amplifiers, a mixer and some form of input. But beyond these commonalities, they come in many different shapes, sizes and configurations. This often makes the choice of PA a tricky one for the sound engineer or venue. It isn’t always as simple as ‘big room = big PA’. Beyond output, all manner of things need to be considered; the type of [...]

How to use compression for live vocals

Compression in the studio is an incredibly useful - if often overused - tool. But it has significant benefits on the road, too. Despite this, a compressor is often the one thing missing from a band’s toolbox; they’re all too easily dismissed as an unnecessary expense and one that requires far too much time and attention in order to fully benefit from. In reality, compression is the glue that holds any mix together, be it live or recorded within the confines [...]

5 things every band should know about the sound engineer

A slight break from tradition in this week’s blog post, as we offer some advice for bands and performers. Surprised? Don’t be. Sound engineers know exactly what’s going on from their perspective. Every fader is set ‘just so’ for a reason, EQ tweaked to quell every boom, hiss and trace of feedback and the decisions made during the performance are absolutely made for the right reason. Does this mean we can assume the band intrinsically knows why the engineer made that [...]