A couple of weeks ago, I did a show in Chicago with a regular client of mine, Haim, to headline the first night of the Pitchfork Festival. Since Haim hasn’t been playing many shows this year, we went out to LA for a few days of rehearsals before the actual festival. We set up in a production rehearsal studio with all of the audio gear we use (mics, stands, consoles, wireless IEMs, etc.) so that we could properly prep the show.
One of my favorite parts about my job is the variety. For example, last month I did a really fun tour with the comedian Fred Armisen, playing venues from around 500-2000 capacity, with a small crew. This weekend, I’m headed to the west coast to mix a handful of shows with the Grammy-nominated R&B artist Khalid. I’m particularly looking forward to the 2 nights at Staples Center in LA, which has a capacity more like 18,000.
I’m filling in for my friend CJ Blair, who is Khalid’s normal FOH engineer. I actually interviewed CJ for a webinar last year, so thought this would be a great time to share a clip from that interview, as well as discuss some issues with doing arena shows.
Normally we don't think about timecode too much in live sound; in live music it's mostly used to synchronize lights and video. When implemented properly, it’s really effective at getting these production elements to operate consistently in time with the music, and it’s an essential part of many large-scale productions. But even though it’s not very common in live music, it’s also possible to have timecode trigger events on our audio consoles.
Just got back from tour this past weekend and I have to say, it was one of the most fun tours I've ever done! I was mixing a comedy show with Fred Armisen and Mary Lynn Rajskub which was a nice change of pace from the loud pop/rock shows I usually do. The biggest change from my normal touring setup was using house consoles, which I document in this post.
Previously on this blog, I was talking about a challenging situation I was preparing for this past weekend: I was mixing a band for the first time, with no soundcheck, while headlining a festival. Well, on Saturday we did the show!
Of course, it didn’t go exactly as planned. Since we wouldn’t have time to set everything up on the day of show, we were able to load in the day before and get situated. But we still had to work within a specific timeframe, and by time I got to the festival site (after a delayed flight!) we didn’t have time to work through all the technical issues that came up.
When I first started working as a live sound engineer, I had no idea of how the touring industry worked. I was just excited to be around live music and mix some shows! But as I kept working my way into better audio positions, I began to identify some of the opportunities available to me as an engineer.
One of my favorite parts of my job is working with other like-minded people. I’ve made some really good friends on tour! And when I asked some of them to give interviews for this site, they agreed. Here's a short compilation of what they had to say about getting their first jobs in the touring industry.
When I’m asked what the most difficult concept to explain in live sound is, the answer is pretty clear: Phase. It also happens to be one of the most critical things to understand, especially when setting up speaker systems.
But we definitely have to think about Phase throughout our entire audio system. This could be the phase relationship between two inputs, latency in plug-ins causing phase issues on console outputs, or setting the correct delay times on speaker systems to ensure phase coherency.
For a signal to get all the way through an audio system, it passes through a bunch of components and cables. Every one of these needs to be connected in the correct order and have functional cabling in between to make it work. If any part of this signal chain is broken or compromised, we won’t have the sound we’re looking for.
Usually the first thing people say when I tell them I don't have an active YouTube channel is: "That's weird. The whole point of The Production Academy is video training, so why aren't you on YouTube?!" Fair enough, my friends. But now we have the ELST up and running strong it's time to launch our YouTube channel! Our first video discusses the difference between Mic and Live level signals and features a special edit directly from our Essential Live Sound Training.