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soundcheck for newbies (band) what's the drill?
Old 16th August 2005
  #1
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Question soundcheck for newbies (band) what's the drill?

Hi guy's, I was wondering what your soundcheck drill is for new bands hitting the road for the first few gigs. How do you get it your way without being too much of a pain in the but? past weekend I had the second gig with these guy's and they kept whining about the fact that it takes 3 hours to transport the gear, getting it out of the truck, setting up, cleaning up the cable mess (so nobody breaks his neck by falling over a cable) soundchecking, final mike adjustments etc and another soundcheck. (3 hours is my normal way of doing) The soundcheck itself was awful, you know how it goes with bands getting there first stage experience's heh for example; bass please? Band: keeps playing together. I repeat bass please "alone" band: keeps playing together, just ignoring the call. Third time, bass please "alone" that means "solo" yes you on the bass. Band: keeps playing together, just ignoring the call and faces getting wtf looks. Fourth time, "BASS PLEASE" Band; hey man what are you yelling for? what do you want us to do? " Bass please" bassplayer; so you want me to play alone for a while? yes please (finally) heh so what’s your drill? after all it's a great band but they just need too care more about there sound and in this case exept for the drummer they don't, sound is sound to use there words heh

grtz
Old 16th August 2005
  #2
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Just check the **** while they're playing together!.... Headphones and a solo button are all you need to check levels, and then you check it in context.

You are reinforcing the sound coming off of the stage, so learn to work with their stage volume as a jump off point.
Old 16th August 2005
  #3
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second drill or should it be the first?

how to avoid discussions on small pup gig's about where to put the console and racks etc? do you make any exeptions about putting the gear on places you don't want to make the band, pub owner and audience happy? am i an A..H... when i demand the sweet spot? I know on most small gig's overhere nobody is happy with the PA taking up some place, so in the past i have ended up in worse case senarios like corners, next to walls, behind the speakers etc etc... and now im being blamed for not making any exeptions (i want that sweet spot at 2/3 of the room !!! So again what's the drill, so you can do your job as best as you can and avoid the blame afterwards? thanks heh
Old 16th August 2005
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by De chromium cob
Just check the **** while they're playing together!.... Headphones and a solo button are all you need to check levels, and then you check it in context.

You are reinforcing the sound coming off of the stage, so learn to work with their stage volume as a jump off point.
thanks chromium cob, normally i do so but in this case i didn't have sollo buttons on the desk. (cheap small yamaha desk) i should have told so heh
Old 16th August 2005
  #5
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You don't have PFL buttons or anything like that? Weak. I say: don't be an a/hole, compromise on your mix position. Since you seem to be lucky enough to be able to sound check ( I hardly ever do on the live stuff I do ), get used to walking around the room. There's not gunna be many people in the "sweet spot" anyway, so don't sweat it. Mix for the room and the crowd, not for yourself.

With live stuff, and tours especially, being a cool guy is just as important than getting the wickedest sound anyone has ever heard....balance isn't just another word for pan
Old 16th August 2005
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ExistanceMusic
You don't have PFL buttons or anything like that? Weak. I say: don't be an a/hole, compromise on your mix position. Since you seem to be lucky enough to be able to sound check ( I hardly ever do on the live stuff I do ), get used to walking around the room. There's not gunna be many people in the "sweet spot" anyway, so don't sweat it. Mix for the room and the crowd, not for yourself.

With live stuff, and tours especially, being a cool guy is just as important than getting the wickedest sound anyone has ever heard....balance isn't just another word for pan
ofcourse there are PFL's on it (no solo), but trough budget reasons i work on the small Yamaha thingy for the small gig's, anyway it works.

Quote:
There's not gunna be many people in the "sweet spot" anyway, so don't sweat it
so if the pub owner or organizer ask's you to setup in a corner or a place where you know its not a good spot, youll do it? i was only trying to find out where to draw the line

Quote:
Mix for the room and the crowd, not for yourself.
Always, but in the first place i mix for the band heh
Old 17th August 2005
  #7
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"Always, but in the first place i mix for the band"

You mean for FOH and not monitor world? No wonder live music is in so much trouble :-) At a live show, the audience is king - always. If the people paying you do not realize this, chances are they won't be paying you very long.

best,

John

Last edited by jabney; 17th August 2005 at 03:40 AM.. Reason: Additional info
Old 17th August 2005
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jabney
"Always, but in the first place i mix for the band"

You mean for FOH and not monitor world? No wonder live music is in so much trouble :-) At a live show, the audience is king - always. If the people paying you do not realize this, chances are they won't be paying you very long.

best,

John
Both of them, I mean if a band don’t have a sound yet, it's my duty to create them one, so if I make them sound good or awesome and translate that sound to the FOH " audience is still king ".And yes it could be they wont be paying me for long, but wont be my fault since im doing very hard my best to let them realize how important there sound is. Anyway there a little stubborn on that area, the drummer really care's about his sound, but he has also 15 to 20 years stage experience. The singer songwriter and bass player don’t seem to care about sound and also dont have that much experience, so that's also what I meant with “what’s the drill ". I’m investing allot of time in these guys by letting them rehearse at my place for over 9 months already because I believe there really good (great songs, great performances). But the interest for sounds lacks witch I regret for them, so again in the first place ill make them sound good and translate that to the audience. So audience is king!!! Maybe one of these days’s they will realize the importance of it, maybe they should have a gig where they have to do it on there own and notice the difference. I cant blame them for being inexperienced heh but i sure can try and make it clear to them that the way they sound is important for them and audience.

grtz
Old 17th August 2005
  #9
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New bands are very lucky to get a “sound check.” So, trying to get your way without being a pain in the arse is truely the key.

Yeah, it can take many hours to load in, setup and make things work but, as time passes I’m sure you will get it down a lot quicker. Three hours may be your normal way of doing it but, what happens when you only have an hour and a half? You still have to make it so!

You have to go with the flow until the band completely understands where you’re coming from. Give it some time – IMO, sound check is not (really) the place to educate them on the finer points of sound checking. Keep that discussion for the band/crew meetings.

If the band doesn’t want to listen to your requests, go with what you already have. If they keep playing together grab your headphones or turn up your time aligned near field monitors and go to work! Solo that bass channel and make do with what you have. Why fight with them? It’s only going to come back and bite you in the arse someday when you least expect it…

If you don’t have a working solo system and the sound system is louder than the band just bring up the channel you want to work on. Adjust it until you have what you need.

Believe it or not, I prefer to have the band playing together. It gives me an opportunity to listen for leakage or any offending sounds that I may not have heard with individual performances. Having the band play at the same time gives them a chance to feel out the room or space. I rarely ask for individual (solo) sound checks. Unless the monitor engineer asks for that I’m good with the full "band on" approach. I use the same approach when recording live. For me, it makes my sound checks go a lot quicker and much smoother in the long run.

Maybe that great band just needs to flex their muscles a bit. Give them the space to do their thing. I bet they care a lot about their sound and such. Give it some time and it will all fall into place. Stay in context and you will win every time.

One way you can avoid on location discussions about this or that is to address these concerns ahead of time. Pre-produce your shows by advancing the gigs ahead of time. Talk to the band or their management and producer, if applicable. Contact the folks at the venue and their production team. Just find out everyone's needs in advance by surveying the location in person and/or via the telephone. Email or faxes of stage plots, input lists, and where you want to place things is the key to a smooth operation.

Keep in mind that exceptions must be made to keep a friendlier vibe with all parties involved. Unless you specified it differently in your CONTRACT or RIDER go with the flow. Sometimes you can bend the rules. Put yourself in their positions and make it happen. Fight for your band when applicable but, keep the peace with the venue, you may want to play there again.

When your FOH position isn’t setup with good sound in mind there are ways to deal with it. Get your sounds, walk out to the center of the room and listen to the differences. Make the adjustments and don’t forget where you’re at during the show. When the rig sounds too bassy, (et cetera, etc.) at that awful FOH position, remember what it sounded like at the sweet spot. Don’t be afraid to walk into the sweet spot during the performance. It may be the only way you can deal with it.

Jesse Mahoney! You posted some very good points. Well said my man!
Old 17th August 2005
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Remoteness

Yeah, it can take many hours to load in, setup and make things work but, as time passes I’m sure you will get it down a lot quicker. Three hours may be your normal way of doing it but, what happens when you only have an hour and a half? You still have to make it so!

You have to go with the flow until the band completely understands where you’re coming from. Give it some time – IMO, sound check is not (really) the place to educate them on the finer points of sound checking. Keep that discussion for the band/crew meetings.

Absolutely right, last week I had a festival and 20 minutes to set up and another 5 to sound check, so im aware of it. but that was with another band im doing foh for and they have lots of experience. The three hours I talked about in the first post was transport included etc. anyway they will have to get used to it if they want to continue gigging, but for me its like starting al over or taking a step back with this band. And I prefer to keep the discussion in the practice room. With the other band we never have them, everybody just knows what to do and expect from each other and that a pleasant way to work and creates a good vibe before, during and after the shows.

Quote:
Maybe that great band just needs to flex their muscles a bit. Give them the space to do their thing. I bet they care a lot about their sound and such. Give it some time and it will all fall into place. Stay in context and you will win every time.
I'm giving them all the time they need, and im sure there will be more aware of there sound after a few gig's.

Quote:
One way you can avoid on location discussions about this or that is to address these concerns ahead of time. Pre-produce your shows by advancing the gigs ahead of time. Talk to the band or their management and producer, if applicable. Contact the folks at the venue and their production team. Just find out everyone's needs in advance by surveying the location in person and/or via the telephone. Email or faxes of stage plots, input lists, and where you want to place things is the key to a smooth operation.

Keep in mind that exceptions must be made to keep a friendlier vibe with all parties involved. Unless you specified it differently in your CONTRACT or RIDER go with the flow. Sometimes you can bend the rules. Put yourself in their positions and make it happen. Fight for your band when applicable but, keep the peace with the venue, you may want to play there again.
That’s what I do with the other band; pre production is the key with them. Im doing there booking, make the contracts and riders etc my phone number is on the rider just in case and I always have contact with the people involved (organization, the crew etc) before a show, sometimes a week before sometimes a day, it depends. And the contracts and rider contains all the info needed to make sure everything runs smoothly. Yesterday I made the other band contract and a rider and will be presenting it to them on there sunday rehearsal, i'm curious to see there reaction. hopefully they don't say that they don't need that

Quote:
When your FOH position isn’t setup with good sound in mind there are ways to deal with it. Get your sounds, walk out to the center of the room and listen to the differences. Make the adjustments and don’t forget where you’re at during the show. When the rig sounds too bassy, (et cetera, etc.) at that awful FOH position, remember what it sounded like at the sweet spot. Don’t be afraid to walk into the sweet spot during the performance. It may be the only way you can deal with it.
thanks for the tip Steve, but sometimes it has been a very awful FOH position:-) one day I’ve ended up behind the front speakers in a casino because the manager didn't wanted to see a snake running trough the venue etc anyway I made it trough the show in one peace heh but no second time please:-)


Quote:
Jesse Mahoney! You posted some very good points. Well said my man!
I had to read it a couple of times, but you’re right thumbsup

Thanks for the tips and reply’s guys, grtz
Old 17th August 2005
  #11
LX3
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Ha ha! I just recorded a gig (thankfully wasn't doing the live sound) where the FOH desk was in front of the band, at the back of a long thin room... but all the FOH speakers were half-way down the room, *pointing back at the band*!!!

?? (putting half the audience behind the speakers too).

So the FOH mixer was still effectively the wrong side of the PA. They actually seemed to think this was a good way to set up.

No wonder the band kept complaining about the sound during the rather shambolic sound-check.

I kept my mouth shut, got the job done, got out. I learned not to interfere with PA-guys decisions a good while ago now ;-)

Paul
Old 20th August 2005
  #12
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Live PA world is a very strange and alternate universe, where acoustics and system specifications are a very long way down a list that includes everything from "will those speakers match my decor" to "gee this stuff is expensive, that behringer/alto/kmart stuff has lots more features!".

One of my residencies is with an 18 piece latin jazz orchestra with fully amped backline. The club capacity is 800. The band are in the middle of the (oddly shaped) room, with an "upside down riser" type thing on the roof, around which there are 6 JBL EONs pointed out and away from the band.... There is also a 3 way normal FOH on a stage, which we don't use (band too big) that I run from a matrix output. These are the only speakers pointed at me, and there is a dance floor and a big band going full tilt between me and them. I don't blame you if you find this hard to visualise, but this is stuff I deal with on the regular, no sweat. Sounds pretty good too once there's 800 people in there, FWIW.

One of the most important things I've learnt from live sound is that the band cannot hear the PA!!. No matter how convincing or whiney they are, remember that. Monitors are the first thing to get right. I don't even bother with a FOH mix until they are smilingl, most of the time.

Steve, I appreciate your comments, I was reading through your long post above and couldn't help thinking that it should be in a Live Music FAQ somewhere.

Remember to breath, Live guys! I've always found having a little dance behind the desk once the band gets going is a great way to release tension :D
Old 27th August 2005
  #13
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I'm feeling rather fortunate.



I've just gone out with a friend's band doing FOH, but I'm a studio guy - not a live guy. They were all 2000 - 3000 person outdoor festivals with EAW line arrays already set up and speck'd out. Consoles were always a Midas or more often Yamaha PM3500. I never got the gear I speck'd on the rider, but they always had plenty of respected compressors gates and FX in the rack. The band's crew did all the schlepping.

We've only ever gotten ONE soundcheck. Ever.

No worries though. Just do a good line check in the headphones (so as not to blast-out the audience between bands), be really cool to the tech's, and bust your ass in the first two songs.

I can't stress how important it is to be cool to the tech's and stage management. I've been all over Europe recently and don't even always speak the same language (not everyone speaks English - contrary to popular belief). But smiles, calm attitude, and free rounds of drinks can go really far. Oh yeah, don't forget your headphones, a sharpie, and a few CD's you know (a Leatherman and a soldering iron might be good too if you're really in the trenches). thumbsup




Yeah, don't forget to breath! heh LOL
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