Full House @ Spirits

Your Sound Engineer should be your BFF + 6 Great tips to get there

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Live music is all about creating an immersive experience for the audience, and a big part of that experience is the sound. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at live music sound engineering, and how the partnership between the engineer and the band is crucial to a great show.

Sound Engineer at a show
A Sound engineer hard at work!

What is Live Music Sound Engineering?

Live music sound engineering involves the use of technology to amplify and enhance the sound of live performances. The sound engineer is responsible for managing the sound system, setting up microphones, adjusting levels, and making sure that the sound is balanced and clear. They are also responsible for adjusting the sound during the performance, making sure that the band sounds great and the audience can hear everything clearly.

The engineer can make or break a performance and can ultimately be the deciding factor between a good and bad show experience for the audience, regardless of how well a band played. That’s a big responsibility.

The Importance of Good Sound Engineer

The sound engineer is an extension of the band, and they need to work together closely to create the best possible sound. A good engineer will take the time to understand the band’s sound and style, and work with them to create the best possible mix for that room. In smaller rooms, the partnership between the engineer and the band is even more important. In these spaces, the acoustics can be challenging. A good sound engineer will be able to work with these limitations to create the best possible sound. They will also be able to adjust the sound in real-time during the performance, making sure that the sound is balanced and clear.

It’s for this reason that venues who are serious about producing high quality experiences for live music fans will have a few trusted audio engineers who they will work with consistently in rotation. Venues like Spirts Music Hall understand the value of a great engineer as part of the overall execution of a great show and invest in keeping great talent for great shows.

6 Tips for a Great Partnership With Your Sound Engineer

Here are some tips for creating a great partnership between the sound engineer and the band:

  1. Communication: Clear communication is essential for any successful partnership, and this is particularly true when working with a sound engineer. Before your gig or recording session, make sure to communicate your expectations, preferences, and goals to the engineer. This will help them to understand what you’re looking for and allow them to tailor their work accordingly. During the session, keep an open line of communication with the engineer, and be sure to provide feedback on their work.
  2. Respect/Trust: Treat your sound engineer as a valued member of your team, and show them the trust and respect that they deserve. Remember that they have a critical role to play in making your music sound its best and they hear you in ways you cannot from the stage — like the audience. Always be polite and professional when working with your sound engineer, and avoid getting defensive or argumentative.
  3. Preparation: Make sure that you’re well-prepared for your recording session or live performance. This means bringing all the necessary equipment, having a clear setlist, and being familiar with the soundcheck process. By being prepared, you’ll be able to work efficiently with your sound engineer and get the best possible results.
  4. Feedback: Provide your sound engineer with constructive feedback on their work. If you’re not happy with the sound, be specific about what needs to be changed or adjusted. Avoid being overly critical or negative, and instead focus on providing useful feedback that can help the engineer improve their work. And remember, they’re not only there for you, but also for the audience to get the best experience possible.
  5. Flexibility: In most cases, the engineer knows their room better than you will. In smaller rooms, or rooms with acoustic features, the sound engineer may need to be flexible and make adjustments on the fly. The band should be prepared to adjust their sound if necessary to ensure the best audio experience out on the floor where the audience is.
  6. Gratitude: Finally, don’t forget to show your sound engineer how much you appreciate their work. A simple “thank you” can go a long way in building a positive relationship with your sound engineer. Be sure to acknowledge their contributions to your music, and let them know how much you value their work.

Live music sound engineering is an important part of creating a great show, especially in smaller venues. A good partnership between the engineer and the band is crucial to creating the best possible sound. By communicating, trusting each other, being flexible, preparing well, and giving feedback in real time and after the show, an effective team can be formed to create an amazing live music experience. Showing gratitude to your partner will help build a great relationship for many shows to come.

3 responses to “Your Sound Engineer should be your BFF + 6 Great tips to get there”

  1. Stephen Angus Avatar
    Stephen Angus

    Excellent post… and it cuts both ways. As a musician and an engineer of many years, I’ve been in a few situations where the sound guy was simply a jerk to the performers- definitely the exception to the rule, but tips 1-5 apply to engineers as much as they do to musicians. Tip number 5 is a given, even if there were difficulties or things didn’t go great, because relationships are what makes this business work, and even if there isn’t going to be a “next time”, it’s best to keep it clean and positive.

    1. Stephen Angus Avatar
      Stephen Angus

      Ha… meant to say tip #6… GRATITUDE… is a given…

    2. Jon Sanchez

      110% goes both ways, its a partnership and each of tips goes both ways — even #6, tbh. A sound guy who gets a band who knows how to partner is grateful for that, I can assure you!

      There is always that one in a few dozen that’s a bad example – but that makes us appreciate the good ones! 😀

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