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youtube video
audio clarity
sound engineer
great relationship
quality expectations
club owner
vocalist
Live Audio Engineering Tips
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Live Audio Engineering Tips

Live music production is very demanding and in many circumstances the sound engineer is faced with the seemingly impossbile task of mixing live music in less than perfect conditions, with less than perfect sound equipment, and with unrealisticly high audio quality expectations from both the club owner and the band. In this article I will be discussing a few live audio engineering tips that may help in these very stressful environments.

1. Quickly develope a great relationship with the band. It is very important that the band sees you as one of them and not the person who they are going to be fighting with all night. You need to find out who the band leader is and talk with them in detail about "their sound". Showing them that you care about "their sound" will go a really long way as the night developes. It will also allow you to start planning on how you are going to deal with the mix as they begin cranking up the amps.

2. Take a listen to their one of their songs. If you can get a hold of a copy of their CD or perhaps stream it off their website or better yet a live YouTube video will further prepare you for exactly what you're going to be faced with. A clear understanding of the band and how they act live on stage can give you some insight on how your stage plot setup may need to change. Does the vocalist run all around the stage creating a feedback nightmare? Does the drummer have any bizarre set up needs? Having this type of information is priceless as you are setting up the stage for the band.

3. Give your pa system plenty of headroom. A majority of live sound venues have less than adequate sound systems. This can cause an array of problems especially if you decrease the sound systems headroom. As you push the limits of a pa system you greatly increase the potential for feedback as well as damaging the gear. Audio clarity is also reduced and the mix will begin to sound harsh. Cheap sound equipment sounds even worse at very loud volumes.

4. Walk around and listen to the mix from every area of the room, mainly in the area that most of the spectators are going to be. Many times the mixing position in these live sound clubs are just as bad as the sound system is. You have to remember that you are not hired to make the band sound great where you are, but where the audience is. More often than not you'll find the sound console stuck right next to a wall, under a stair case, up in a balcony loft, none of which are going to give you any idea about what the band sounds like down on the floor where the audience is going to be. Learn the room and mix according to how it will sound where they will be.

5. Develope a relationship with the club owner and consult with them about how to better the live music production experience. This is a long term type of move but at the end of the day if the owner doesn't realize that they are asking the impossbile of their sound system how can they be held responsible for not making it better.

Technically speaking there are many live audio engineering tips that can be discussed and taught. However developing a relationship with the band and the club owner could be some of the most over looked.


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