Live Sound. What To Expect At Your Concert?
- The most challenging job in any nightclub is that of the sound engineer. If things are going great, they are hardly noticed, and if something sounds wrong (and that has a lot of opinions attached to it) they (and we) can be bombarded with opinions about how to fix it.
- Parents: Please do not hand signal your kids from the audience. (Yes, we’ve seen this many times) and/or tell them to change the amp volume settings when they come on stage. We have preset volume levels. Any dramatic change made by the students can cause a very unbalanced sound.
- For the most part, every club has competent sound engineers. They were hired because of their reputation and skills. They understand the room and the sound system better than any “lay” person in the room. We need to allow them to do their job and not interrupt them. If you have a question about the sound, please address one of our staff and we will do our best to answer any question you have and adjust reasonable requests. Please do not approach the sound engineer directly. Let our staff communicate any sound issues with the engineer.
- The students are learning how to play on stage. Getting a great sound on stage requires a lot of experience. It will not happen in one gig. It won’t happen in ten or twenty gigs. It realistically won’t happen for quite some time. We coach them on stage volume, amp placement/levels, microphone technique, stage logistics and more. Will they sound be perfect? Most likely no. Will it be good? Most likely yes. Learning how to play live on stage will take time and no two stages are the same. Just like practicing scales and rudiments, learning to play on a stage takes time and you must perform regularly on stage to improve live performance “chops”
- Guitar players are learning how to balance rhythm and lead guitar levels as well as “clean” and “dirty” tones.
- Drummers are learning how to listen to monitors and “hear” the band on stage.
- Bass players are learning to adjust their level and make sure the low frequencies aren’t taking over the room and creating a “muddy” mix.
- Keyboardists are learning (like the guitarists) to blend in with the band and monitor their volume levels.
- Singers are learning to use monitors and not blow their voices out trying to sing over the band.
- Horns (Sax, trumpet etc…) like the singers, horn players are learning how to use a microphone and listen to themselves in the stage monitors.
- Student musicians are all dealing nerves, adrenaline, and wanting approval after they’ve performed. We help them backstage to be relaxed and focused on their performance. When they are finished, we want them to feel good about what they accomplished. Even if/when something goes wrong it is a learning experience. We want them to understand the learning experience and not focus on blaming someone or something else.
Pro players make it “look easy” because they have logged in many hours of stage time and preparation. They’ve seen and heard many variables from doing hundreds/thousands of gigs and know how to adjust. We are working with young inexperienced students so there will be “things that happen”. It is part of the learning curve. We want their efforts to be supported.
- Where are you listening?
The best place to WATCH may be the front rows. The worst place to LISTEN to a live band is in the front rows. In the front rows you won’t hear the mix because you are sitting in line with the main speakers that throw sound out into the room. The best place to LISTEN is halfway back in the room or near the sound engineers mixing board. If you have a comment on the sound, the first question we will ask is…, “Where are you listening from?”
- Common comment #1. Can’t hear the vocals. Most likely reasons:
- The singer isn’t projecting directly into the microphone.
- The “listener” is in the first few rows.
- The sound engineer is asleep. (We hope not)
- Common comment #2. The (instrument) is too loud or too soft! Most likely reasons:
- They student may have turned amp volume up or down amp without us knowing.
- Instrument is too loud… The listener is standing close to the stage directly in front of the instrument.
- Instrument is too soft… The listener is standing close to the stage on the opposite side of where the instrument is they want to hear.
- The sound level from the mixing engineer wasn’t changed after a solo. (We hope not.)
- Sound levels: We try to have moderate sound levels at our shows. We do recommend that you bring earplugs and/or sound muffling headphones for young children and/or yourself! 😎🎧
Everyone has an opinion on live sound. We know we won’t please everyone. There are just too many variables and opinions on live sound and performance. Most live pro shows I’ve seen/heard at The Staples Center have had awful sound. Unless you are in an acoustically dialed in room and have had a thorough sound check nothing will sound “perfect”. 😎
If we did a sound check with every band it still wouldn’t sound perfect to everyone. Even then once you bring an audience into the room the sound changes and all bets are off.
We do our best to make sure students have a fun show and more importantly a great learning experience to build upon. We want them to sound great and we work very hard with the club and all the variables to make that happen. 😎🎸🎹🥁