A sound technician helps to create the best audio for any production. When it comes to live shows, that role takes on a greater significance with more challenges. Using their education and job experience, a sound technician can meet these challenges and ensure a quality sound. However, correct technique and access to the right tools is indispensable to the technician.
Let’s take a look at four key items that these professionals use to make live shows become great experiences for the audiences.
A major element that every successful live show needs is a stage monitor system. A stage monitor is a network of speakers, which face the performers on stage.
These amplify the sounds created by the performers, and often come in two parts except for those small venues. There’s the front-of-house system, which helps to amplify sound for the primary audience and a support system for the performers.
This monitor setup requires a sound technician to oversee the mix for the FOH system that focuses on performer vocals and instrumentation. The sound technician adjusts this mix if needed with a mixing console, which plugs into a speaker in the FOH system. They’ll also use IEMs, or in-ear monitoring systems that help them communicate with crew and the performers.
Monitors vary depending on the size of the venue, and a skilled sound tech will be able to maintain the appropriate levels for each but also have the ability to troubleshoot any issues along with other members of the sound crew. This is important in regards to the next items on our list.
Stage Snakes and Stage Boxes
Live shows have many hidden dangers on the stage that the audience isn’t aware of. There are numerous cables connecting the artists and equipment, well as the monitors that the sound technician and support crew uses.
A stage box or a multi-channel snake makes it possible to have shorter runs for microphone cables, and they can also help out the front of house engineer, or FOH, to help balance all of the levels, during the rehearsals and the show itself.
Musicians and artists have to be heard well and without distortion or the live show will end in disaster. This is where the microphone comes in.
Dynamic microphones are probably the most vital part of the live show production. Sound technicians will work to ensure that the microphones provided can deliver pristine sound despite the wear and tear that professional equipment experiences.
The budget determines the show’s gear, and in some cases the performers, crew and sound technicians will use wireless microphones to communicate. For an extended touring situation, the durability of these units is even more important and should not be overlooked.
When it comes to live shows, a premium speaker network is nothing to play around with. Again, this will depend on the allotted budget for the production. Sound technicians will look at the specification sheets for different speakers related to the specific needs – SPL output, frequency response, and dispersion.
Dispersion means the way that sound is comes out vertically and horizontally from the speakers.
The frequency response is what comes when sound is delivered and measured in kilohertz, or kHz.
The range of kHz’s a speaker gives off in conjunction with the type of music that’s being performed may require a subwoofer. The subwoofer increases the output and lowers the overall frequency response.
Lastly, SPL output refers to the sound pressure that issues from the speaker at a particular distance. This data comes as a combination of peak and continuous levels in the audio measured through the speaker.
Peak levels cover the speaker performance on loud transient audio and continuous levels deal with the averaging of loudness levels. If the show calls for multiple speakers and subwoofers, the sound tech facilitates this.
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The Associate in Applied Science in Live Sound and Show Production is presents sound and lighting performance enhancement and blends technology and aesthetics. The live sound and show production degree program presents the fundamentals of acoustics, signal flow, color and light, basic electronics, audio, lighting and video reproduction devices.
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