Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Sound-guy pet peeve

I spend a lot of my professional time doing live audio production. I have a blast with it -- I get to work with some excellent performers, and I enjoy the work. But there are things performers occasionally do that tend to irritate sound guys. One of my favorites: relocating microphones. I'll set mics for a band, and I'll turn around a minute later to see the performers have moved them around. Attention, musicians: I'm the sound guy. I know where the mics need to go, and I don't place them at random. I put them in the best possible place. Therefore, anywhere you move them is probably a change for the worse. A lot of the time, mic placement is a collaborative effort: where will it give good sound, while not being in the performer's way? So if you're not happy with where the mic ends up, let me know. We can work something out. But moving it without telling me is a bad idea.

I recently worked with a band that was really bad about this; one guy moved the microphone three feet further away from his instrument. I asked him about it, and he said he wanted more of an "area sound". Yeah. One of his bandmates, apparently fuzzy about which direction the directional mic was pointing, moved his sax mic so it was pointing at the keys. The mic picked up some sax, but mostly the clicking of the action. And, around the same time, I had a praise band consisting of three guitars and a keyboard. I set lines for them, they plugged in, and while I was walking back to the sound board they all switched which channel they were plugged into. This would be a cute practical joke to play on a sound guy, not something you do seriously....

I want to stress that this was not a problem with today's performers, the flute and harp duo of Gayle Schnepp and Jay Miller. They're not only professional and friendly, they're also excellent musicians and fun to listen to. Catch one of their shows if you get a chance.

No comments: