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How Do Audio Technicians Run Sound at Conventions and Events?

Audio technician sets microphone at speaking panel at convention

Audio for conventions or large events is very complicated. There are many factors for an audio technician to consider at a large event.

Conventions and Live Audio

Convention and event audio ensures that music played throughout the event space sounds good. In addition, the audio technician also makes sure attendees hear speakers and musical guests. Additionally, the location of the event plays a role in the acoustics and equipment choices for live audio engineers.

An audio technician that works conventions and events needs to understand how to run large and small soundboards. On top of this, they must also know how to solve problems that occur, and how to wire everything.

Audio and Acoustic Considerations for Events

Convention and event sound requires an understanding of what every room in the space sounds like. A big auditorium sounds a lot different from a small recital hall or meeting room. A ballroom will have different acoustics than a convention room that does not have decorations or treatments on the walls.

Listening to the Space’s Acoustics

First, the audio technician needs to listen to space when it is empty. A good audio technician can walk through the hall and test the room’s reverb. A big room with acoustic treatments will not have a booming sound or a lot of reverb. A room with no decorations or treatments will echo so much that it could be distracting.

How Do Live Sound Engineers Solve Acoustical Problems?

The audio technician can ask the event staff to put drapes on the wall or raise the room’s acoustic treatments. Plus, the audio technician could ask that the room’s stay closed at all times. An acoustic treatment sucks up sound that would otherwise bounce off the walls, which results in poor audio.

The audio technician also needs to account for a stage, because the stage itself has its own acoustic properties. The stage can also cause a lot of reverb. If this is the case, sound from the back of the stage will not reach the audience. Also, the speaker at the front of the stage may sound much louder than normal.

Once the audio technician understands the room’s sound, they can begin choosing microphones for the speakers, performers, singers, and musicians.

How Does a Sound Technician Choose Microphones?

A traditional event or convention with a speaker can use a normal microphone or microphone pack. In order to deliver the best sound possible, it is important that the audio technician knows how these microphones sound.

Audio Considerations for Live Music

If the event will include live music, the audio technician needs to choose microphones for use with musical instruments. These microphones are completely different from a regular microphone used by a singer, and they must be set up on racks that bring them close to the musicians.

Electronic Music Considerations

If the audio engineer works with a band that uses electronic instruments, all those instruments need to be plugged into the soundboard. Plus, the audio technician needs to do a full sound check with the band to make sure that all the instruments sound good. Some bands will bring their own cables, and they may have their own monitors. The audio technician must make sure that they have integrated what the band uses with the system that is already in place.

What About Monitors?

Monitors are a big part of any large event. The monitor is a speaker that faces the performer or the speaker, so they know what they sound like. Monitors can also be earpieces, known as in-ear monitors, which provide the same function as a traditional setup.

The audio technician needs to do a sound check just for the monitor, and they need to ensure that the monitors hook up to the system correctly.

Checking the Soundboard

The audio technician will be responsible for all soundboard maintenance during an event. If speakers or microphones need to be muted during a show or talk, the audio technician needs to turn them off at the appointed time. Because of this, the audio technician needs to be alert at all times.

Organization Tips for Audio Technicians

The audio technician can write down a list of all the levels on the soundboard so that they can adjust the board quickly, and they can show other people how to manage the board in case of an emergency. The board needs to be powered properly, and all the cables that go into the board need to be labeled.

Furthermore, some audio technicians will go the extra mile by labeling all the cables plugged in on the stage. These labels make it easy for the audio technician to change the setup between performances or speakers. If the technician wants to bring their own cables, they might be able to help with the setup for a speaker or live performer who does not normally use electronics.

Event Hall Sound

When the event or convention wants to send messages to everyone at the same time, the all-call speakers will be used. However, an audio technician needs to make sure that the microphone sounds good when it is turned on. If the microphone is turned down too far, no one can hear. If the microphone is turned up too high, it will be deafening. Plus, the microphone cannot be around other cables or mics that could cause interference.

A simple test before the event begins helps the audio technician avoid any feedback or static that may occur while using the all-call button.

If the event is held in more than one place, it is up to the audio technician to go to each space to hear what it sounds like. Some of these spaces will sound very dry and dead because they have too much acoustic treatment. There are other rooms that sound very bright and vibrant because the sound waves are bouncing around the room. Apply the same techniques to each room to ensure that is sounds good when people walk in for the first time.

Event Hall Music

If the convention organizers want to play music throughout the event space, they need to work with the audio technician to have that music played on the proper loop. The audio engineer also needs to know where the music is coming from, and they need to know what kind of music it is.

The music plays through all the speakers on a volume that seems moderate, and the technician can advise the organizers that certain sounds may be too loud. Plus, some songs may not sound good because they have too many instruments or sounds playing at the same time.

The audio tech needs to have an understanding of what sounds good in the space, and they should play the music while walking around to get an idea of how the event hall sounds.

Sound for Vendor Booths

There are vendor booths that might want to have sound playing all the time, and it is wise to ask the audio technician how to make the sound work properly. The audio technician should have a basic understanding of how soundboards and stereos work. The vendors could show up with any speaker or music configuration, and it is the audio technician’s job to make sure the music sounds good.

The audio technician also needs to know how to make each vendor sound good without overpowering the event hall. If the tech has spent enough time in the space, they will know how to set up sound for each vendor. The vendors should not change the volume, so the people in the convention space will not be overwhelmed by loud noises.

Where Can These Skills Be Used?

The skills that one would pick up from working at events and conventions can be used on cruises or at large universities. The audio engineer also could be hired to manage sound in a professional theater or run sound for the cruise ship’s performances every night.

These very same skills help an audio technician manage sound for a band that tours, to manage sound inside a busy meeting hall, or to help a banquet hall set up sound for a new event every night. Convention sound can be used for theatrical shows hosted by casinos or resorts, and they could adapt their skills to work as a DJ.

Audio Careers in Radio and TV

If an audio engineer works in radio or TV, they will know how to make live audio sound better because they understand what the room sounds like, how to treat that room, and which microphones to use. This could be a vital skill if the technician works for a local TV station that hosts live TV shows, or it could be useful for someone who works in radio. Live or remote events have their own issues, and can make the event sound perfect.

So How Do You Become an Audio Technician?

The aspiring audio technician can learn all these things by studying the art of audio engineering in a vocational program. Some people will use these skills to work in a music studio, and others will ensure that they can work in regional productions that are near their home.

Someone who is very committed to conventions and events may want to get a full-time job managing a university student center, or host parties because they know how to set up sound for any event space. If a student served an externship with any of these professionals, they would be more than ready to work in an event hall or convention center.

Conclusion

Learning how to manage convention sound is one of the most interesting things that an audio technician can do. There are many problems to solve when the convention starts, and it is important that the technician knows how every room sounds, remains organized, and works with the event staff to create the best experience for everyone. Vendors, speakers, live performers, and organizers are counting on the technician to make sure that everything their guests hear is pleasing to the ear.

Want to Learn More?

No event or convention is complete without pristine sound to make the performances taking place highly memorable. The process to provide these results is one that entails a lot of hard work & improvisation. If this kind of creativity appeals to you & you’re curious enough to learn more, take a moment to check out IPR’s Sound Production Program and the training that they provide on-site about the tools needed to succeed in that area.

Contact us today to learn more about the live sound and show production program and starting a rewarding career in the entertainment industry.