Monday, July 14, 2008

Sound, Sound, Sound

Petro, my dear friend and drummer for my beloved Swim Party is going to be contributing to SD: Dialed In. His first post after the jump.
Thanks, Petro!

I was out this weekend and something I think about often caught my attention. While I was at the Ken Club watching Writer, I noticed that it sounded amazing! “So what” you say, “Writer is a great band, obviously its gonna sound great”. Well yes, you’d be right in that Writer is a great band, for my money the best in San Diego right now, but there is another part to the equation. You see, no matter how good a band is, or how great the songs are, if you can’t hear them well, it simply doesn’t matter. That night Justin Quiring was manning the sound board, and let me tell you, he did a great job. I’ve heard Justin mix at the Casbah as well, and he always delivers.

I often think about the soundmen and women at shows. It is really a thankless job. If they get it right, most don’t notice, and if its not sounding right they are immediately bashed. I don’t think its fair in many cases. Sure, sometimes they are not great at what they do, or just hate their jobs. I’ve been in a couple of cases personally where the sound person was just an awful person and didn’t care, but for the most part, we here in San Diego are pretty lucky to have a lot of great sound people. Jake, Marshal, and Rodney are a couple of other greats that come to mind!

So here is what I am thinking to help these brave souls help us get it right. As a band, respect and work with your soundperson. You need to know how loud to play in a given room, each room in unique. Make sure the levels on stage between your instruments are fairly even. Just because an amp goes to 10, doesn’t mean it should. Listen to it, listen to each other, and feel the room out. Same goes for the drummer, play to the level the room requires. As musicians we need to be able to make a 50 person room sound just as great as a 200 person room. The responsibility lies with us as far as levels go. Playing at a reasonable level will allow the sound person to reinforce you, and make you sound better. They will be able to mix you for the room, and bump the room levels, and specific frequencies, in a pleasing way. Playing at a reasonable level will also allow you to hear your monitors. Also, it’s very important to remember what you are hearing on stage is not what is being heard from the audience's perspective. Here is the biggest one for me, ask your soundperson what they think, work with them. Find out if there is anything you can do to help them make their job easier. Its just going to help you in the end and make the show great for everyone.

Now as an audience members, I think we need to cut them some slack as well. Without a sound check it might take one or two songs into the set to get everything right. Also, sometimes there are technical issues, and it takes a few moments to figure these out. In most cases the sound person is trying really hard to fix something that could have gone wrong in a number of places. Its definitely not an easy job. Anyways, just a thought I had. I hope everyone’s week is a good one!


abraham said...

cue taken. on more levels than you know... hey we're team members!

Erica Ann Putis said...

True dat!! They really do try to get the best sound possible usually...