Faceoff Between Band and Tech
Sound and mix control is a never-ending battle between band members and sound technicians. Or is it? At Audio-Video Group, we’re on both sides. Let’s check out a few examples of common standoffs and their solutions. In the end, we can create a sound that makes everybody happy.
Faceoff: Guitar Player vs. Sound Guy
Guitar players seek one thing above all else: perfect tone. Sure, it’s an amorphous concept, but it matters. Tone is why your guitarist chose that 2012 American Standard Telecaster. Tone is why they’ll put so much time, money, and love into choosing that tube amp head, and why they’ve invested hundreds of dollars in that pedal board. Your guitarist loves tone. The problem is that to make all of their gear produce that tone, they have to crank up the volume on their equipment and unbalance the rest of the stage mix. Sound spills over, the sound guy loses control, and other musicians can’t hear their own sound. Sound technicians turn the volume down, and the faceoff begins.
Solution: Isolation Cabinets
Relocating the guitar amp to an isolated cabinet in a closet or backroom is the perfect way to appease both sides. Accomplishing this requires adding a guitar extension like the Radial SGI-44 to take the output from a wireless receiver and run the guitar signal to the pedal board and back. Other than that, you just need a few cables and a microphone. The signal is extended from the guitar players’ peddle board to the amplifier in the ISO cabinet, and then mic’d from the amplifier back into the sound system. These cabinets are soundproof, allowing the guitar player to crank the volume as loud as they want for perfect tone while still giving the sound technician control over the mix.
Faceoff: Acoustic vs. Digital Drum Sets
For centers of worship with contemporary music, the story of the church drum set usually goes something like this: Things start with an acoustic drum set, and it rocks. The problem is that it rocks a little too loudly. Drums are the most difficult instrument to mix, and to compensate for the noise the sound guy turns up the volume on everything else. This makes the room volume louder than it should be. The sound technician suggests a digital drum set. The problem is, digital drum sets aren’t as responsive to the nuances in the velocity of hits, meaning that it’s difficult for drummers to vary their volume and tone as they would on an acoustic set. And that’s where things get difficult.
Solution: Isolation Booth
This is where the story should start. An isolation booth, such as a ClearSonic IsoPac, is composed of a clear, soundproof shell in the front, with covering for the sides, back and top of the drum set area. This greatly improves the ability to mix acoustic drum sets, and you don’t have to compromise with less-playable digital sets.
Faceoff: Booth Volume vs. Instrument Volume
An underlying theme in sound face-offs is the debate over where sound should be controlled: onstage via instruments, or in the booth via mixing. Often, musicians will only give the sound booth half of the sound control; they’ll leave their volume knob at five, and crank it up to ten when they need to hear themselves. On the other side, sound guys get so concerned with the house sound that they neglect to consider whether or not the musicians can hear themselves in their monitor mixes. When musicians crank themselves up in the middle of a set, sound people are understandably frustrated as they try to adjust the levels of the mix to compensate.
Solution: Meet in the Middle
In the end, the answer to this faceoff is to compromise. Sound technicians should visit the stage often during mixing to make sure that the stage mix allows everyone to hear their parts. Musicians should also concern themselves with the house mix, and consider spending a song during rehearsal listening from the booth to get a better feel for how things fit together. Don’t forget that stage monitors are extremely important pieces to the puzzle as well, with options including in-ear systems and onstage cabinets.
In the end, the goal of the sound booth and the goal of the band members should be the same: to provide high-quality sound to the service or event. That’s something everyone can agree on. Do you need help resolving the faceoff between your sound technicians and your band? See how AVG can help you meet in the middle by contacting us at 301-668-4448 or visiting us online at www.audiovideogroup.com.