Ten things I’ve learned from running sound for my dad’s jazz band

  1. Everybody wants something different, which makes it impossible to keep everybody happy.
  2. With live sound, it’s not always a question of volume. You can often do more to highlight and clarify an instrument or vocals with EQ than with volume.
  3. You can have perfect levels, but once the musicians start playing and singing, they are going to change their amp settings, hold the mic at different distances, and basically mess with everything you just did. I think that’s why so many rock gigs are so loud…it’s just easier to whip the levels way up and let whatever happens, happen.
  4. Point the mics away from the monitors! Point the mics away from the monitors!!!
  5. Everybody’s an expert and likes to share their opinions. In my particular case, an actual expert came up to me after the show and said I did a great job! He is a high-level CBC radio producer. So…tthhhbbbbbttttttt!!!
  6. It’s amazing what the sound guy gets blamed for. Really…I can’t control the drummer’s tempo or how loud the keyboard amp is….sorry.
  7. Running sound is tough, especially when you are behind the speakers.
  8. Sound checks are essential!
  9. The natural sound of the space is a critical factor for how the band sounds. A church is incredibly reverb-y, so you want clean guitar sounds if possible. A nightclub is gonna be loud and people will be yelling and talking…so you just need to be louder to compensate. A lot of rooms have crap acoustics too…and it’s just hard to make any band sound good.
  10. Vocalists and lead guitar players are such divas sometimes. I sure can be!

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