Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Mic Check 1, 2 .....How to do a Sound Check
This is something I have been wanting to cover for a while. As a musician AND a sound engineer I see both sides and the mistakes people make when setting up for a show. The first thing you need to know about doing a sound check is when load in time is. Before your gig find out what time you need to be loading your equipment in and get setting up. Once you get your stuff in, find out where you need to set up. Find where your electrical outlets are too. If you are anyone but a singer or drummer you need to bring yourself a multi-plug and \or electrical cord to get yourself power where you need it. Most places should have a place to plug in your pedals but alot don't. I hear time and time again as a soundman " Can I get a electric cord from you?" Sometimes a soundman will, but always have one so that you got yourself covered. Next is to find out when soundcheck is. Once you are told what time it is DO NOT BE LATE! I have seen bands be so late they were kicked off the show. You want to be on time so that the sound engineer can get everything sounding good and iron out any problems that come up. A good sound person wants you to sound good. They take pride in it. Now that you are set up it is normal for you to play a little bit and get your sound right and get a feel of how the room sounds. You DO NOT want to keep jammin like you are playing the show. You get a feel , get your sound right, levels right and be done. Nothing screams "first timer" more than "guy who jams like hes at a show while setting up dude". If you are on stage while the sound tech is running mics and cords it is bad taste to be jammin. It is REALLY BAD TASTE to be jamming real loud or pounding on a drummer while he/she is putting a mic on said cabinet or drum. Save the techs ear drums while he/she is near your instrument. Now everything is mic'd up and your are officially ready for sound check. They tech asks you to do something. If you are a drummer he goes through one by one of every drum that is mic'd up. Example: if they start on your kick drum you play a nice steady beat as hard as you would when you will be playing that night. That gives the tech what he needs to get proper e.q. and levels. He will do that to every drum that's mic'd, then ask you to play the whole kit. When you play the whole kit play something steady and go through everything on your kit. In each of these scenarios you play until the sound tech tells you to stop. For guitars, keys, bass set your stage volume ( the volume you set your amp to play on) and wait and see if that is the volume the sound tech needs it at. Alot of times guitar players put their volume way too loud than is needed. Remember you want the band to sound good as a whole, not just you. If you are asked to turn your stage volume down , do it. Just ask for more in the monitors ( we will get to them soon). For anyone with a vocal mic, when it's your turn to get check, sing like you are going to be singing that night. Don't get up there and yell, be too quiet or do death metal growls ( if you aren't doing them that night). You want him to get you dialed in at a level that you will be heard at your performance. Next you will be asked to play as a band, to make sure everything sounds good as a whole or you will be asked to do a monitor check. When it's time to do monitors you need to think of everything, before you get up there, that you will need to hear. If you don't need to hear everyone sing back ups, don't put them in your monitor. You don't want to clutter up your monitor sound with things that you don't need. Put what is important to you in the monitor. Example: if you need to hear the lead singer you have him sing while you play a little bit so that you can hear it. If its too low a volume ask for more. If you don't play while it is getting sent to your monitor have the level set a little bit past where its loud without anything playing. That way when playing starts it can be heard. You do this for every monitor and for everything you will need in your monitor. You will also come across times where every monitor gets the same thing ran to it instead of each monitor being different. If that is the case you have to compromise as a band as to what will get heard onstage. Only put what is most needed for everyone. If you run too many things through the monitor things will get jumbled up and you will hear nothing. After all monitors are checked run through a song or two and make sure everything is as good as it can get. Make sure you can hear what you need to hear and everyone is happy. Most of the time things won't be perfect. You get it as good as you can. The MOST IMPORTANT sound is the one the audience is hearing. You might think is sounds like garbage on stage but in the crowd it is blazing! Remember a sound tech is like a member of your band for the night. They want it to sound as good as you do. Treat them like a member, buy them a drink and be polite. They will have you rockin the stage like Jimi Hendricks at Woodstock!!! Winning!!! So drink some "Tiger's Blood" get your "Adonis D.N.A.", get a sound check and rock the house!!!!