The Sound Person: 9 Things Every Musician Needs To Know

As much time as you spend in your rehearsal space perfecting your sound, it won’t mean anything if it’s botched coming out of the PA. All the money you spent on new pedals, amps, guitars and strings doesn’t matter if the mix is off in the club and its sound person.

The sound guy (or gal) is the most important component of your show that most bands don’t really think about. He (going with he for this piece out of ease – and most are men) can break your set (few sound guys can actually MAKE your set if you suck).

So, you have to know how to approach sound guys right and get them on your team for the short amount of time that you have with them.

Get His Name
The first thing you should do is introduce yourself to the sound guy when you arrive. Shake his hand, look him in the eye and exchange names. Remember his name – you’re most likely going to need to use it many many times that night and possibly a couple times through the mic during your set. If you begin treating him with respect from the get go he will most likely return this sentiment.

Respect His Ears
All sound guys take pride in their mixing. Regardless of the style of music they like listening to in their car, they believe they can mix any genre on the spot. However, most sound guys will appreciate hearing what you, the musician, like for a general house mix of your band’s sound. Don’t be afraid to tell him a vibe or general notes (“this should feel like a warm back massage” or “we like the vocals and acoustic very high in the mix” or “we like keeping all vocal mics at about the same level for blended harmonies” or “add lots of reverb on the lead vocals, but keep the fiddle dry”). He’ll appreciate knowing what you like and will cater to that. He is most likely a musician himself, so treat him as one – with respect. He knows music terms – don’t be afraid to use them.

Don’t Start Playing Until He’s Ready
Set up all of your gear but don’t start wailing on the guitar or the drums until all the mics are in place and he’s back by the board. Pounding away on the kit while he’s trying to set his mics will surely piss him off and ruin his ears. Get there early enough for sound check so you have plenty of time to feel the room out (and tune your drums).

Have An Input List
If you need more than 5 inputs, print out an accurate, up to date list of all inputs (channels). A stage plot can also be very helpful – especially for bigger shows. Email both the stage plot and input list over in advance. The good sound guys will have everything setup before you arrive (this typically only happens at BIG venues). If you’re at a line-check-only club, then just print it out and give it to the sound guy right before your set.
Channel 1 – Kick Drum mic
Channel 2 – Snare Drum mic
Channel 3 – Hi Hat mic
Channel 4 – Tom 1 mic
Channel 5 – Tom 2 mic
Channel 6 – Drums Overhead mic
Channel 7 – Bass Amp DI (up stage right)
Channel 8 – Guitar Amp mic (up stage left)
Channel 9 – Fiddle DI (stage right)
Channel 10 – Acoustic DI (center)
Channel 11 – Keyboard DI (stereo-L) DI (stage left)
Channel 12 – Keyboard DI (stereo-R)DI (stage left)
Channel 13 – (lead) Vocal mic (center)
Channel 14 – Vocal mic (stage left)
Channel 15 – Vocal mic (stage right)
Channel 16 – Tracks DI

Call him “yo sound man” if you want to piss him off.

How To Insult Your Sound Guy
Call him “yo sound man” if you want to piss him off. You got his name, use it. Or ask him politely again if you forgot. Don’t tell him that the house mix is “off” or “bad.” Everything is subjective. It may not be what you like, but it’s obviously what he likes. He most likely has WAY more experience mixing than you do. So get specific about what you like and don’t like for your band’s house mix from the get go or shut the hell up.

Know Your Gear
Know how you like your vocals EQed generally so you can say that. You can say “can we drop some of the highs on the vocals in the house.” You shouldn’t say “the vocals sound piercing – they hurt my ears.” You should know how your gear works inside and out so if anything goes wrong you point to the sound guy last. Pointing to him first is a sure way to piss him off.

He’s Part of the Club
The sound guy, door guy, bartender, booker, managers and servers are co-workers. Just like you and your fellow baristas are co-workers. They hangout, have work parties, hit the bars together and they talk. If you’re a dick to the bartender he’ll tell the sound guy and the sound guy may then decide to ruin your set out of spite. Or just not put any effort into mixing you.

Everyone Wants A Great Show
Believe it or not, your sound guy wants to perform at his best just like you do. Make his job easy by showing up prepared and not sucking. He most likely has his shit together so make sure you have your shit together as well. The stage is not the time for you to “see how it goes” and try stuff out. That’s what rehearsal is for. Show up prepared.

The Chip
There are sound guys out there (we’ve all worked with them) who seem like they have a massive chip on their shoulder from the moment they step in the club. These guys are typically older, failed musicians who have been at this club for decades. They are hardened from years of working with dick musicians who not only suck, but believe they are rock stars and that the sound guy is a peon – and treat him as such. You may not be able to change his outlook on life, but treat him with respect and dignity from the get go and he may lighten up just enough to put some effort into mixing your set.

Even though it should go without saying, use the golden rule. If you treat your sound guy as you’d like to be treated and work WITH (not against) him on putting together a great show – you most likely will have one.

+9 Things Every Sound Guy Needs To Know About Musicians

327 Responses

  1. Michael Silverman

    That last one is the one I’m allways thinking about when I go into a theater. It’s mostly just important to give him his proper resect. This is his domain, and no matter how good, or terrible he is, you want to be friends.

    Also, if there is only one sound guy, and no one on monitors, you have to come up with a strategy for your monitor mix. We use the new iPad mixer with in-ear monitors, and now we don’t fear the sound man so much. He can only hear the front-of-house, so he’s guessing on your stage sound. Figure out how to take that variable out of the equation, and you will not spend the after show meal complaining for an hour about the sound man.

      • JimBinLV

        Here’s what I’ve found to not only work extremely well but also sounds great and super easy to use.
        Pivitec —

        32 Channels of audio at your finger tips. It uses nearly any iOS device.

        • guest soundman

          instead of pivitec u may also use my mix for diy stage / iem monitoring.

        • Red herring

          Ipad mixers are the way forward. No sound guy needed.

          A good sound guy must also be a great musician.

          • Sound Guy

            Unless you can play from the audience and do real time fades, you might want to keep a sound guy around. Set and forget might be okay for hack bar bands, but that’s about it.

          • Soundguy

            LOL… you can put ANY mixer on stage.. no Ipad needed.. and still.. most bands are better off relying on a sound guy.. 😉

          • Kim Watson

            Some of the best sound engineers I know are not musician. The best sound engineers are actually the ones that listen to a very wide variety of music. They know more intuitively what each genres mix needs. IE Rock and roll…. less kick more snare……. or Ska….. shed loads of hi hat and kick snare tucked in below it.

            As for running your own mixer on stage for inears…… Carry your own stage split and stage boxes too, alot of venues don’t have a split or are already using it for their house monitor board for the support bands. Save change over times repatching have your desk in a rack with a Split. if you can carry xlrs and mics too that will make your day to day more easy. Swapping out the microphones for different ones will change your mixes each day. Leading to frustration and less consistency for the bands IEMs.

            And Not all sound people are guys!

          • shawlee

            im a singer of cover songs/instrumentals i sing the vocals
            i saved them on a flashdrive im also new at club auditioning processes for a paid gig, so i auditioned twice for one in santa barbara, ca M8RX on state. the guy who recorded me on a cel smart phone wasnt there last night from two mos ago. then when i sang last night it was a diff guy to set it up the mic checks and im not used to taking instructions musically ive been in karaoke clubs for a long time thats how ive learned all the songs i know now but idont just sing i move around with it so i feel like i dont know what im doing bc i dont have a coach or agent yet or label or im just throwing myself out there to anyone listening or recording hoping for someone to let me sing with pay just for a motel room
            and hot food but im able to do hard songs linkin park and evanescence the offspring my voice carried through that whole club 3 stories high an old victorian its really great fun place to sing live the stage is big enough for me im a petite woman but i dont think he recorded me it so dark in there i couldnt see well then he did put some stage mist on so i guess my singing was appreciated and i had a real stage oufit on with mirored l,ittle sequence to bounce the stage lights off i dont have the money to do or go anywhere else to perform i guess next month ill just go again to perform the same song or a diff one

          • happybill

            ^ the reason for the last paragraph in the article.

        • dom

          he’s just talking about for monitors, A so they can get it right themselves and B so the FOH guy can focus on FOH. As an FOH mixer I don’t want to focus on monitors, so if they can’t afford a monitor tech and are willing to mix themselves, I say let them go at it as long as they don’t introduce feedback into the equation.

    • Professional FM in industry

      Any comment to justify this authors credibility in RESPECT and maturity is ridiculous. No true professional would choose to write ‘out of ease’. ”I’m not saying they don’t exist but there is no disputing that the vast majority of sound engineers are men.” The word BUT in this sentence completely reinforces the male-only subject in this article. If you claim to be of equal gender then why include the finishing thought, that there is no disputing the vast majority are men. Again, you are just contradicting your beliefs in gender equality, which here, reads as nonexistent. Also, travel around the globe for work, you’d likely become more mature from the vast majority of ‘sound guys’.

  2. Lezlie

    I totally agree. Great advice. The sound man will make or break you.

  3. xzxjennaxzx

    Great post! I see these overlooked by a lot of small bands, especially here in OC/LA. There are venues with awesome sound guys and others with practically nonexistent ones. It’s not necessarily the size of the venue that tells you how the sound will be,

    Before I ever set foot on a stage with my own guitar and mic, I was sitting at the soundboard and helping set up and tear down a variety of stages. The crowd may not see it but the “sound guy” is a musician’s best friend.

  4. Biz

    “The crowd may not see it but the sound guy is a musician’s best friend.”

    Or another very common scenario….. “worst enemy.” Can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve seen sound guys butcher great opening acts because they just didn’t give a hoot.

    Let’s not forget that newer bands will usually get the shaft. Maybe a ten second line-check (if they’re lucky) amongst all the other non-sense they have to endure (like not getting paid & having to out of pocket drinks regardless of how big the draw is).

    It’s a two way street

    • Joe

      Sorry to disappoint, but this is not usally the choice of the engineer, unless you’ve really done something to piss him off. No one like to throw a band without a check and have to scramble under pressure to get it right in front of an audience. The issue is usually one of time. Whether it’s the headliner taking up all the time, the promoter creating a crazy short schedule to try to save $$$ on labor, or just lack of preparation (ie. sending wrong or no information in advance or changing everything at load in). I look at every plot and input list and have a plan for the day before I walk in the building. It’s the “can we just add these 5 inputs” at load in that can destroy the day. Is it really that hard to establish good communication and preparation – after all – as you say – it’s YOUR show that suffers.

      • Soundman

        The “You’re only as good as the soundman” has the assumption that your band is good and know their instruments and know how to tune guitars, bass, drums, etc. I have been mixing for years and I am very passionate about what I do, and I will bend over backwards to.
        1st take your momma’s comforter out of your bass drum and plz learn how to tune it.
        2nd plz use the mid control on your guitar amp, mid are part of that sweet spot for great tone, When you crank up the presence and treble, what happens is your guitar fades into the cymbal wash and goes away with the other high frequencies. I have had guitar players stand with me at FOH and had them play as I pulled 5k out of the P.A. and let them hear their guitar go away.
        3rd bass players plz put a little upper mids and some highs in you bass tone, it it’s just mud coming out of your cab, that’s all you will hear out of the P.A., in my opinion a bass should sound like an angry piano.
        4th Singers plz, plz plz, stop cupping the ^**&^%$## microphone, it sounds so bad out front and most of you really do have amazing voices, and this just make you sound bad.
        5th plz rehearse and give a damn about your music or about the covers you are playing, while I do have a digital console I don’t have a talent knob. I expect you to be at your best. A real soundman can enhance your tones and sound overall, but basically you should have your stuff together before you get onstage, because in my venue if you suck, you’re gonna suck loud.

        • guest soundman

          that’s just one side of the truth, and a small part of the whole whitness.
          Imagine you would mix a perfect band / ensemble / orchestra,
          than you just would need very good microphones, position them right, and gain them all the same, you would not need to EQ them (except low cuts), than almost all input channel faders would reach nearly the same position, and the sound would be perfect! Sure this requires a perfect PA system, EQed to the room and dispersing flat frequency, phase and pressure to the complete audience. This is reality almost ever when mixing classical musicans! Just when mixing less professional rock pop musicians, they want us to mix their music sounding, what their instruments do not sound and they do not play! So we need to equalize, gain, filter, gate, compress, de-ess, duck, limit, programming FX, fade … making music.

        • Bo Didlee

          Well said soundman, as for cupping the mic, this need to stop. I had dreams of putting collars on all my mics with spikes to keep hands away. Any singer who cups the mic and then asks the monitor guy to cut the feedback needs a serious education. Cupping makes your mic omni and loses all tone. Stop doing it. Just stop.
          I did however manage to re-educate a hip hop artist on this fact and we had trouble free sound for years afterwards. He was an actual musician though so a bit of an anomaly. Yeah, I said it.

        • UncleGrumpy

          Sound check is not rehearsal time. Rehearse before you get to the gig. And to repeat what’s in this article a bit, don’t hit goddam drums or cymbals when I’m putting up mics or cabling them on your kit.

        • Jeff

          I am a bass player and I couldn’t agree with you more. I utilize the EQ on my head. I’ve been playing for almost thirty years now and I always ask the sound guy if anything needs tweaked ie, line out level, EQ, whatever. I’m not wireless, so I can’t hear what he does.


      TRUST THEM!!!

      • Kim Watson

        In all honesty a good sound engineer is transparent…. all I do is amplify the sound off stage. sometimes bands are just that bad there isn’t much you can do about it! on a 6 band bill and I am mixing them all, if 4 sound great and 2 sound pants it is usually down to the bands arrangements for the tracks being off….. too many things going at once there isn’t much I can do about it as an engineer.

        And allot of people need to sing IN to the microphone rather than backing off or singing in to it sideways so he/her can see the strings of the guitar…. little sound in little sound out…..

    • Soundguy

      I had top acts late for sound check insisting on starting the show on time and skipping the soundcheck for the opening act.. basically I did the soundcheck during the first two songs and made them sound as good as possible..

      sometimes its your fellow co-musicians ruining it all for the others

      • stratobiker

        Which is exactly why, in that situation, we open with a number that has bass and drums starting off for a good few bars, joined by guitar, again for a good few bars, then the singer joins in.

  5. GGG

    Agree 100% about just talking to the guy and telling him what you want.

    I’ve dealt with incredible sound guys that make bands sound better than I’ve ever heard them, and I’ve had plenty of shitty ones that make them sound more lifeless than I thought was possible. But 9/10 times (assholes do exist of course), the “shitty” sound guy isn’t shitty at all, he is just mixing you in his generic, safe way. If you have a specific sound direction, know how to talk about, then tell the guy. Does wonders. And if you do sound really good, ask him what he did so you can tell the next guy.

  6. AdamZ

    Small note, typically the patch list starts with the drums and ends on vocals. Kik, snr, hat, tom, etc. > bass, gut, keys, > vox… Not the other way around…

    • jim

      Input order is a matter of preference I prefer it just like it is laid out onstage just makes sense to me

      • Anders

        I’d add that usually the sound guy handles the “input list”…. why would a band tell the sound guy how to arrange his mixer inputs? The band however, does provide the stage plot.

        • LM

          When I get just the stage plot sometimes it is unclear if they want to mic amps compared to using di’s on some sources or if they have special drum pads or instruments that don’t make it on to a general plot. Even though I might rearrange the inputs to my preference, I love to see an input list to know exactly how the band prefers their stage sources setup.

          • George

            I find rearranging inputs is much easier on a digital console. Which gets rid of the individual preferences

        • Dan Perez

          It makes it easier for the band members to go do the actual mix while the sound guy is out smoking for the whole first set?

          • Grandpa Hat

            I do festivals and have an input arrangement. I need to know what inputs a band has and where they will be on stage. I agree trust the sound person’s ears. Your girlfriend’s oppinion will piss the sound guy off. and you can’t hear FOH from the drums. Also, If I see a band member adjusting the mix when I am not looking, the band will live with that mix the rest of the show, Info like, we like the kick strong, or keys more out front is good info to help the band get the vibe they like. Do Not bad mouth the sound on the mic to the crowd, and a shout out by name is appreciated. The sound person takes pride in his/her mix and will do what they can to get it right. At the same time everyone has their own ears, and may have tweeked it slightly different. Constructive help and suggestions are great, but like hanging a new door frame, let one do it and everyone else support the plan.

        • Bo Didlee

          It is an input list. Not a decree. It simply tells the Sound individual what to expect. He/she can plug kick drum in 13 if he/she wants *shudders*. That is nearing apostasy for a soundy. In a festival that list will almost never line up channel for channel but it will give everyone a heads up of what to expect.

    • Nashville Way

      It is all preference really. I rather have all the inputs (no order) and a stage plot. I line everything up the way he has it, only I put vocals stage right to left or right to left as you see it from the board. I have seen it all though…

      • Nashville Way

        sorry…left to right as you view it from the console.

        • ken

          It is totally a preference. I am a left to right as I look at the stage kind of sound guy. When there is an issue it is easier for me to find things.

  7. Id

    You know, I’ve worked and played in a few corners of Canada, and the numbers of women as sound techs and engineers is pretty high as you go farther west. It’s not just just ‘sound guys’ out there. Don’t know how LA is, but it might not be a bad idea to tip the hat (just a little) for females in the profession. 🙂

    • Not a "sound guy"

      I’m a woman who’s been working as a professional audio engineer since the ’90s. The more experienced people become, the better they understand that audio engineering is a complex, sophisticated field, and the less they dismiss engineers as “the sound guys”. Hopefully the author will reach beyond his own limited experience to learn more about our skilled, diverse community.

        • Ari Herstand

          You’re right, my experience (as everyone’s) is limited – but to 550+ shows in 40 states. I used “guy” and “he” out of ease – as stated above. I of course meant no disrespect to the women in the field (similarly, I meant no disrespect to male producers when I used the feminine in this piece about recording: ). And in my 550 shows I’ve met maybe 5 women FOH engineers. I’m not saying they don’t exist but there is no disputing that the VAST majority of sound engineers are men.

      • Joe

        As a professional engineer with 30+ years in the business, I have to say Ari is spot on with his assesment. I do know him personally, having had him in venues I have worked, and I can say he is one of the most professional and respectful artists I have worked with. He could give some much needed advice to a bunch of the national acts I work with. As busy as his touring schedule is, I think he may have actually seen more rooms that I have in all my years!

        • Am not a sound ''guy''

          Any comment to justify this authors credibility in RESPECT and maturity is ridiculous. No true professional would choose to write ‘out of ease’. ”I’m not saying they don’t exist but there is no disputing that the vast majority of sound engineers are men.” The word BUT in this sentence completely reinforces the male-only subject in this article. If you claim to be of equal gender then why include the finishing thought, that there is no disputing the vast majority are men. Again, you are just contradicting your beliefs I gender equality, which here, reads as nonexist. Also, travel around the globe for work, you’d likely become more mature in the vast majority of immature people.

    • Fem Sound ENG

      I understand you writing in the masculine tense for “ease”, but the bottom line is that it can be interpreted as disrespectful, and at the very least, dismissive. I guess I just don’t understand why it needs to be gender specific at all. It’s 2014 for goodness sakes!! I am a sound engineer. I went to school and earned 2 degrees. I did my internships and made the shitty wage for years building my resume just like everyone else, lol. I find when I am writing a piece it’s just easier to write in gender-neutral language, especially when addressing the public. I by no means think you personally meant any harm by the term “sound guy”, but it does continue to perpetuate the notion that women are not “sound engineers”. More women are seeking careers in this field, and as a touring engineer who has been at this for over 14 years, I have met many women all over the world that are sound engineers (and damn good ones if I do say so myself!). 🙂

      “Proponents of gender-neutral language argue that the use of gender-specific language often implies male superiority or reflects an unequal state of society. According to The Handbook of English Linguistics, generic masculine pronouns and gender-specific job titles are instances ‘where English linguistic convention has historically treated men as prototypical of the human species.’ Words that refer to women often devolve in meaning, frequently taking on sexual overtones.”

      • BeckyDaTechie

        This. It’s a long-standing habit that “the sound guy” is a guy. But it appears to be the habit of two kinds of acts; the first are the new bands that think they’re hot stuff who are assuming the way it was at their first venue is how all of them are. Had a problem with one of these kids at one of the last gigs I worked. He yelled for the sound guy, I stuck my head backstage and asked what he wanted and he reiterated “The sound guy,” in the tone you’d use for a 3rd grader. So I said “My name is Becky. You can use it from now on. What was your question?” and the bassist got it. The lead vocalist/guitarist didn’t, so I had to lay it out. “Your sound guy has tits and is standing right in front of you. Don’t worry, they don’t stop me from seeing the board. What was your question?” “You mean girls mix sound?” :/ Nope, all girls ever mix in 2014 is batter, or maybe some really pretty nail polish colors. (/sarcasm) But for the rest of that night I was “That girl” and we never did figure out why his highs sounded so tinny. Oh well…

        The second type are the old school guys who’ve been at it so long they really never *saw* women in those settings until the last 20 years and again, default to male out of ease/habit. But what I’ve seen with the 40+ crowd is that they’re more willing to get out of the rut in their thinking faster. Usually it’s only one, “Nope, no guy at your board tonight. Are you ready for check?” and they roll with it. Maybe not without comment, but without the entitlement and bull-headed resistance I see in younger/less established acts. I worked with a really nice bluegrass band a couple of years ago that were just delighted I was there. “They’re finally letting women into the control booth now? Well that’s just wonderful! Thanks for helping out tonight. Do you play anything or sing?” Those folks I can work with.

      • Bud

        You sound like a textbook politically correct mangina. Women sound engineers. Yeah, right, ok, they are all over the place, you white-night mangina, just like women chess players and women recording studio owners. If you see a woman behind the soundboard she is either a lesbian who hates that she is a woman or a dora the explorer type space invader invading male space because she grew up hearing “you go girl”.

    • Also not a ''sound guy''

      Any comment to justify this authors credibility in RESPECT and maturity is ridiculous. No true professional would choose to write ‘out of ease’. ”I’m not saying they don’t exist but there is no disputing that the vast majority of sound engineers are men.” The word BUT in this sentence completely reinforces the male-only subject in this article. If you claim to be of equal gender then why include the finishing thought, that there is no disputing the vast majority are men. Again, you are just contradicting your beliefs in gender equality, which here, reads as nonexist. Also, travel around the globe for work, you’d likely become more mature from the vast majority of ‘sound guys’.

  8. Dale ( Jethro)

    Not all sound guys are failed musicians, I started doing sound long before coming a musician. I don’t have a chip on my shoulders, and I always make sure the the people on stage are happy, then make sure the output is good for the people listening. Not loud, clear, so they can hear and not yell across the table.

  9. Hacksaw46

    It about sums it up, but it misses 3 things things. A Sound Guy prefers Engineer, as even DJ’s are often thought of as Sound Guys. The second is, an Engineer’s job is to make the Band sound natural and clear. They’ve done their job correctly when the Band gets the compliments and the Engineer isn’t noticed. A point some Engineers sadly don’t get. And finally, the band needs to let Management know that things went well, as that is how the Engineer’s worth is weighed with the Venue.

    • TexasEng

      Hacksaw46: Are you a qualified Engineer? Very few “sound guys” are. An increasing number these days do have an associates’ degree, so I guess that gives you the right to call yourself a “sound technician”. But “Engineer”? That is someone with at least 4 years of college, who designs stuff, not merely a skilled operator. (In the context of audio engineer, that would be designing the electronics or software inside audio equipment. Many engineers are also inventors – patent holders. A huge part of any engineers job is testing, too. If you have done these things then please feel free to call yourself an engineer, otherwise leave that title and respect for genuine professional engineers.

      • RK

        So you can only drive a train if you designed it? I know lots of folks at Union Pacific that are gonna be totally bummed when I yell them you said they have to change their handbook…

      • miki

        so, maybe YOU design, and test (in a workshop probably) and MAYBE even operate (see “test”) audio gear. But can YOU go into an unfamiliar venue for the first time, (based on information given to you by somebody with NO audio background other than how much they are willing to pay for it),set up a complete sound system, mic up a band you never worked with before (and maybe never even heard of) do a short (if any sound-check) and go on to mix a show that sounds great from beginning to end? I have routinely for the past 35 years, with just a high school education (but one of the best teachers in the sound biz) and no formal live sound training, (there was no such thing when I was getting started) I have built snakes and custom panels, cable checkers, switching units, DI boxes, I have maintained and serviced audio consoles, reconed speakers, built speaker cabinets and racks. I have designed sound systems, and ran 2 sound companies. Live sound has been my full time job since 1979. I call myself an Audio Engineer. Oh yeah, AND FOR THE AUTHOR OF THIS ARTICLE/POST, I am female, (and during my 1st 10 years doing sound I knew of just ONE other) but I can load and unload, setup and run a sound system at least as well as most of the “guys”. I am not offended by the typical backstage/musician humor or language (rather the opposite), I am not gay or a feminist (as some assume I “must be”. I just happened to fall into a career that I never even knew existed, surrounded by very talented people with various degrees of “formal training” (re:TexasEng) who taught me to be a very good audio engineer.

        • Rocker

          Miki I have done pretty much the same thing since the early 70’s I am a male. I have a close freind who i have known for 40 years who went to the Institute of Audio Research in NYC around that time. It was more for studio recording but she graduated and went on to work on a stage crew at the Capitol Theatre in Passaic NJ. It took some time for her to be accepted but like you she humped gear and did lots of OJT learning about major PA companies like Showco and Clair brothers. She turns 60 this week and she works for a sound company as well as IATSE local 500 in Florida. When i started there were very few women in the business be it sound or lighting. When guys saw a woman backstage they were taken for groupies. i am glad things have changed.

          • Old School

            I wonder if your close friend mixed the Rush and Foghat show in ’76 at the Capitol?

        • Mark

          Miki – i am sure you are great, but you are not an engineer. Sorry.

        • Anonymous

          Yup. In many states, the only people that can legally call themselves engineers are people with a PE (professional engineer) license which requires a four year degree in some engineering field to even apply for.

        • This guy

          I’d have to say, whether you have the title engineer or not means absolutely nothing in the end. The quality of work speaks for itself. You may not have gone through much schooling but your effort, time and hard work will show whereas you can get a degree and still be terrible. Defend your title of engineer, I appreciate the ones who just DO WELL, not the ones who need a fancy title to make themselves feel prestigious and important.

          This goes to saying whether your male or female, black or white, rich or poor, any background of life at all, if you do a good job, its noticeable, its worthy, and I like you a lot.
          Yes this is a softy “everybody just love each other” sounding post but it’s true.
          Do your job well, don’t stop learning or hinder your ability to learn with your stupid pride, (cause if you think you know it all, you’re not gonna learn anything else), and leave the cheap titles to those who think its more important than the product.

          • German Sound Guy

            I’m sorry, but I got the education as “fachkraft für Veranstaltungstechnik mit fachrichtung ton” in Germany.

            In Europe it is unimportant to be an engineer or not…
            do a great job and your in the business or suck and your out…
            that’s all!


        • Mixer

          I have heard trained “engineers” that provided horrible mixes and salty road dogs that provided magical mixes. Just because you have a degree doesn’t mean you have an ear.

      • ken

        Uh, i have to disagree with you. I was a musician and electronics engineer in flight simulation before i decided to become a sound engineer. I do not have a degree of any sort. I learned electronics in the USAF and parlayed that to an successful engineering position in the civilian world. I come from a musical family and have been around sound most of my life. I have been touring for almost 20 years mixing shows all over the world and if you call me a sound technician rather than a sound engineer, you have broke the first rule and insulted me. I know some sound engineers with 4 year degrees from reputable schools who can’t mix a salad, let alone a band. But you think that degree makes them better, then we will call you “disillusioned elite” sound engineer and maybe lump them with you.

        • miki

          Brings to mind another favorite quote of mine, this one from a supporting act’s engineer (very good) made about a high caliber headline act’s engineer (not so good) after a painfully Loooooonggggg soundcheck at rather elite high $$ event in San Francisco City Hall Rotunda (granted – an “acoustically challenged” venue of epic proportions) “That guy couldn’t mix a rum and coke”. Who spends 3-4 hours trying to dial in an amplified “pickup” band for a “late in her years quiet voiced female” in an EMPTY 3 floor high marble rotunda? In the end, the support act (whose soundcheck was nixed completely to give the headliner more time to “tweak”) with an engineer that let the sound company engineer (who knew the system like the back of their hand) dial in the first couple songs as the “walking carpet” entered the venue – then handed over the reins to the guy that knew the band, well they sounded FAR better than the big money headliner whose engineer had ongoing issues from start to finish (to go along with his bad attitude…from start to finish…..

      • theriser000

        TexasEng, you sound like a complete elitist dick. According to the dictionary entry below, a sound engineer who falls under the first definition definitely deserves his due respect. A sound engineer who only falls under the second definition, deserves his as well.

        If two guys can move a fader equally well, it doesn’t really matter where they learned to move a fader.

        1. a person trained and skilled in the design, construction, and use of engines or machines, or in any of various branches of engineering: a mechanical engineer; a civil engineer.
        2. a person who operates or is in charge of an engine.
        3. Also called locomotive engineer. Railroads. a person who operates or is in charge of a locomotive.
        4. a member of an army, navy, or air force specially trained in engineering work.
        5. a skillful manager: a political engineer.

      • Yp

        Tex, being inept at your job doesn’t change the job title.. You’re maintaining your title as world class prick quite well though! Bravo!

      • Joe K.

        In many jurisdictions, unless you are hiring yourself out to the public, anyone can be called an engineer. The title has become meaningless. I could start a hot dog stand and call my employees Sausage Dispersal Engineers.

        When licensure is required its a different story. But in private business, the only people who protect the use of the term engineer are butthurt engineers.

        • Anonymous

          Well it’s like if people started going into practice as “medical doctors” without the required license. Engineering is a field where you have to have a license to practice.

          There are state boards that certify you as an engineer, and you need to be trained as an engineer (that is a four year degree) to even test in the PE examinations. If you work as an engineer and aren’t licensed as one, you are probably breaking the same law you’d be breaking if you called yourself an MD or lawyer without the required licenses.

          Of course this isn’t as enforced that well or often. Especially people working with audio, where the greatest risk is making a band sound shitty. But it is sure as hell enforced for most civil and mechanical engineering positions. A con artist pretending to be a civil engineer could get people killed at a massive scale. If a engineering firm fucks up and the authorities found out they hired people who called themselves engineers instead of actual licensed engineers, a lot of people might go to jail.

          • Alex H

            You do not need a license to practice engineering. I graduated as an Electrical Engineer, and work as an Automation Engineer. I have a license for neither, yet have worked on major corporations equipment. The only reason to need a license is to be able to legally sign off on something. You can do Civil/Mechanical design work, or Plumbing/Electrical work without a license, you just can’t legally sign off on it conforming to code. I know Civil Engineers who are working that aren’t licensed. They do the design, then have a licensed Engineer look it over and sign off on it. Maybe outside of the USA it’s different, but that is an accepted practice, especially for larger companies. Not everything requires a sign off.

      • Soundguy

        Why should an audio engineer be designing software or electronics. Is acoustics not a discipline worthy of an engineer?

        Is designing an acoustically correct sound system for a venue not an engineer’s task?

        Testing the system, measuring the results, adjusting to the venue is not a task worthy of an engineering discipline?

        Don’t be overly proud of your professional engineer title.. I’ve seen too many without the university degree doing work of actual engineers (e.g. designing and building machinery) and engineers with the proper title being theoretical guys who merely know some math and have no understanding of how things actually work.

        And yes, I hold an engineers degree – even though its in information technology 😉

      • Josh Danby

        I was gonna protest that then remembered I actually am qualified with a degree in audio engineering haha – But to humour this – despite getting a first class degree, and an award for the highest overall grades on the entire course – when it comes to live sound I respect the experience of guys who’ve been working in the industry for donkey’s years – qualifications are nice and I greatly expanded my existing knowledge of the principles of audio, but regardless of that if you’re working with a person who’s been doing the job for 30 years you STFU and listen to them. That said there are also some “qualified” people out there who don’t know shit in the real world – normally these are the people who only studied then forgot to take advice from the person with experience. No one cares about the semantics of “design engineers” and “operator engineers” – anyone who specialises in either aspect knows that both disciplines demand equal respect. If anything they’re complimentary to one another and shouldn’t be subject to petty elitism.

      • sound engineer 2014

        What a croc. You definitely do not have to go to college to be an engineer. I have no college degrees yet have somehow managed to design and build many mechanical devices and electronic devices as well as written software for some of the electronics. In my day job, my title is even Sr. Engineer. Get your head out of your ass. Your mixes might sound better then anyways.

    • Chris

      You no more need to be an electronic engineer to operate a mixing console than a musician needs to be able to craft his own instrument to be a great player. Musical knowledge is more important than technical knowledge. Electronic engineering is a skill, sound engineering is an art. Book knowledge might get you in the door but it’s your ears and your communication skills that will keep you employed. I always like to go on stage and hear what a band sounds like without mics. If you sound bad without mics then I’m in for a long night. My motto has always been I won’t take the credit for you sounding good and I won’t take the blame if you sound bad. I do what I can at all times but you can’t polish a turd, it just makes more of a mess.

      • Beamer Smith

        Wow.. reading all that about “engineering”
        Here’s how I see it.. the person who turns the knobs at an audio console “engineers ” the sound to a certain place (good bad or indifferent) performs a task of engineering the sound. When I started 8 channels was a big deal and bass/treble ( or low/high) was all you got.. I grew up with the industry (no commenting on me growing up please) And am comfortable with 48 x 8 fully parametric EQ with variable Q.
        I know a bit about acoustics and I know a bit about bit about design (and by a bit Not everything but more than the average sound person out there)

        I am a sound engineer. I don’t care what anyone else thinks I am or should be called.. You can call me sound dog (once) or Supreme commander of the Sound Pressure Waves… I don’t much care. You pay me to give you the best sound we can get under the circumstances.. That’s all.

        (all that talk about needing degrees doesn’t wash with me.. I know Many folks who were out there with me who have more useful/practical knowledge than most “trained” and titled folks.. The Titanic was made by “Engineers” too.. )

  10. NicholasC

    Great article! I come from both sides of the board being a musician as well but make a living as the “Sound Guy”. It really does come down to simple communication and respect. Sending over the input list/stage plot plus some mix notes prior to performance can make all the difference in the world. We’re there because we have a deeply rooted passion for music and want to hear it at it’s pinnacle. If musicians could treat the engineer as an extra, crucial member of the band it would help the integrity of the sound and their careers immensely for that matter. Don’t hate on the sound guy ok!?! haha 🙂 Happy New Year everyone…keep creating!!

  11. craig squires

    All good points… whatever happened to be humble and respectful AND PROFESSION.

  12. Lisa Sefine Tagaloa

    So easy to forget some of this stuff, thanks for the reminder Ari. Need to get onto the stage plot and input list.

  13. Lorne

    Here’s one.
    Don’t ask the audience if it sounds ok out there before you play your second song, always a deal breaker for me.

    • Fem Sound ENG

      YES!!! Hahahaha, very true. Instant insult. If the house engineer/tech was gonna put any effort into your mix, you will pretty much snub any of their enthusiasm with that comment.

    • Beamer Smith

      ..and don’t ask the wife/best-friend/groupie/enthusiast of any particular performer either… 🙂

  14. Bertin

    A word to the sound guys/girls. I’ve been a sound guy in a really small venue for years and had always really good responses from musicians. (I’m a musician myself so I can probable relate to the needs) If you do your best for them, in return they play really whell. Yes, it’s all about welcoming the artists, cater their needs, show them the venue, the kitchen and where they can sleep, get them that weird cable adapter thingy when they forgot it, be clear about what is expected, the time schedule and when dinner is served. And nine out of ten times direct them to the nearest coffeeshop or join them for drinks after the concert, It all pays back.

  15. Steve

    A lot of sound guys are more experienced than the band. A good sound sound guy will know an amateur band the moment they walk in the door thus the chip. A band should sound good (balanced and tonally correct) before the PA is turned on. Vocals may be an exception to this rule as they are not amplified, but not all the time. The skill of listening to each other in different performance environments is one of the hardest to learn. The skill of playing together musically and dynamically is also incredible hard to learn. Good bands are really easy to mix. Bab bands will always have “sound trouble.”
    Whoever wrote this article means well but they are an ass.

  16. Lonnie

    I agree, however, as a drummer, I would like the sound techs to stop making my drums sound like someone else’s! Don’t gate my toms (if I want them dry, I’ll TUNE them that way) and don’t saturate my snare with tons of reverb unless I ask for it.

    • Me

      Hence the many times the article mentions talking to the sound person about how you like to sound.

      • audiododd

        EXACTLY!! As an experienced (15 years) “sound guy,” if the drummer doesn’t tell me how he wants his drums to sound, I’m going to go with a generic sound/mix that’s right for the genre (e.g. I’m not going to mix a jazz kit like a 15-piece “monsters-of-rock” kit). If it sounds like the toms are ringing too much, I’ll gate them slightly. However, if you tell me that you want your toms to ring out, I’ll gladly let them. I usually try to make time to talk to the band members (or at least the band leader) to get an idea of what they want, but often the time crunch dictates otherwise, so feel free to find me and let me know what you want — but please don’t do it while I’m trying to do 10 other things.

        • Artist

          First of all, sound ENGINEER is the correct title that we deserve, college or not… What mechanical engineers do with tools and math, we do with knobs, faders, and math.. If you don’t think so, and you still think we are just
          “knob monkeys” I dare you to open up a sound frequency book. I could tell you which frequencies mesh best at what distance, and how fast different frequencies travel, what saturation ratio matches best with what delay rate, or OHMs, dbs, watts and amp ratios work best with each other, but I would prob confuse 90% of you within the first 5 words.. (Not directed at the sound engineers) And I only graduated high school with a carpentry degree 20 years ago… We as engineers mesh, and shape sound waves so that they are all complementary to each other, and pleasing to the ear. And trust me, working with some of you idiots… That’s not an easy feat.
          And Lonni, you are the exact dope that we engineers, can’t stand.. Since more than 70% of club stages are no bigger than a shoe box, drums need to be gated.. and even still 90% of all drums are.. You on stage ( unless you have in ears)WILL hear the drums as sounding dry. That is because of the high risk of getting low end feed back when multipule instruments hit a low frequency together. Which will continue to ring through drum and cabinet mics, through the mains out front in a vicious circle. Which is the same thing that happens when reverb or delays are added to monitor mixes. ( unless said musician has in ears).. That is why lead singers are almost never given delay or reverb in the mon.

          • Want to learn from a master

            How fast does 200Hz travel? How fast does 2kHz travel?

          • mj

            I have to say… As a 33 year veteran of sound engineering, that was perhaps the weirdest post I have ever read.

          • Want to learn from a master

            MJ: You mean my post? I was just asking ‘Artist’ a question. They claim to know the answer.

          • Pickers

            Yes there is a difference between sound engineer, audio engineer, mixing engineer, audio technician, sound technician and sound mixer. The main difference is a solid understanding of acoustics and physics and not all of the above need to know the physics but to call oneself an ‘engineer’, they really need to back it up with the academic knowledge.

          • Γ214

            Approximately 340 m/s on both accounts (by memory… I think the actual number is 342 or 343 m/s), assuming the resonant medium is air at sea level with 50% humidity.

            Pressure waves travel at a constant speed through a medium regardless of frequency, thus certain phenomena like the doppler effect.

            I suggest you learn something and most importantly, stop being a dick. The title is Audio Engineer, Recording Engineer, Live Sound Engineer, Monitor Engineer, etc.

          • Scientist

            Hz is not a measurement of speed but of frequency sound travels at the same speed regardless of frequency in the same medium.

          • th

            You may want to research frequency speeds a little deeper. the difference in frequency speed is how we perceive distance.The more they become misaligned the farther the distance. Consider lightning and the resulting thunder. I have no axe to grind here. Just saying don’t close your mind to learning.

          • Anonymous

            Last I heard them, they both travel at the speed of sound. YMMV for the reality-altered. 😉

          • Mark

            You are obviously NOT an engineer and any engineer can tell you are kind of full of it.

          • FOH GUY

            You are an idiot. That was a lot of no nothing gibberish.

  17. Bubba Loyd

    Respect the other members of your band, when doing sound check. If checking drums the guitar player should remain silent same goes for else. The engineer will get around to you come your turn. During your sound check do not stop until the engineer tells you to.

  18. seaN4sound

    Tipping helps, keep the stage clean and clear of bottles and drinks. (Capped bottles of water are ok) Respect the house gear.

  19. TRouBLe

    I appreciate Hacksaw46’s remark. I AM an engineer, not a sound guy. Yes there’s a difference. An engineer is a professional who this pride in his work and spends s much time learning and developing his skill as an professional person would.

    • Me

      What kind of engineer are you? Have you ever hung 50+ speakers in a venue, made them sound proper while battling bad acoustics and maintaining proper coverage of the listeners. Try doing it after unloading the trucks, directing a 25 person crew to get everything properly placed, mix a 2.5 hour show, pack it up drive 500 hundred miles and do it again. I think the possibility of using the term “engineer” not to your description pales in comparison. Lighten up.

  20. A real journalist

    This isn’t 1953. Women actually work in this field.

    • T

      Eat all the dicks! Ari notes that in the first paragraph! READ

    • Well, fuck

      It was about time some feminazi’s penis envy kicked in. Nobody said anything about there not being female sound engineers, twat.

      • Eimear Post Ginger

        Oh look this is probably why there are no women in sound. 4chan is missing some trolls there. Now drag your knuckles back there, off ye go! I’m sure your mothers are proud you abuse women on the internet. Real tough. Real tough!

        • Grace

          haha well said. One way to piss off a sound person is to talk like you assume they are the opposite gender. The constant reference to sound engineers as ‘guys’ has the unintended consequence of exacerbating the prejudice that a female engineer won’t be so capable of the job. (Perhaps this isn’t obvious to all the men here, since such prejudice isn’t directed at them.)

        • Reasonable man

          Just because a woman is a woman, it doesn’t mean she can’t be attacked verbally. ESPECIALLY if such attack has nothing to do with gender. None of those guys called her any sexist names there (assuming it’s a she we’re dealing with here), but pointed out her stupidity for not reading the text properly and immediately feeling attacked and displaced by the article. Stupid, uneducated people should be told off.

  21. Danwriter

    You can put sound guy/girl to rest here. The professional (and non-gender-specific) term is “FOH (as in “Front of House”) mixer,” or “FOH engineer,” if you prefer. That’s also distinct from a monitor mixer, though in smaller venues the FOH mixer will often mix monitors from the FOH console. (And, yes, you are doing yourself and everyone else a favor if you use your own IEMs, in any sized venue.) Learn more at

  22. Anonymous

    Good stuff
    I do a lot of this and I slip him a tip before we play , thank him for taking care of us . Usually we get more than our moneys worth.

  23. FOH13

    You’re only as good as your sound person. Remember….You can’t polish a turd! Tips are good btw.

    • mj

      As the code.writers always say… GIGO. Garbage in, garbage.out.

    • Lol wat

      Depends. I’ve never seen anyone tip a sound engineer and I’ve played quite a few shows. Here, in Europe, giving 10 or 20€ to a guy in advance would feel awkward as Hell. It’s such a small ammount of money that it would feel like a crappy “do your best” bribe. You know, like in that Family Guy episode when Peter gives a dollar to a secretary from Harvard and says “I want my girl to get into Harvard”.

      Different cultures, I guess.

      • Mixerperson

        A gratuity to the sound operator used to be very common among acts that didn’t have their own mixerperson. I still get them when I work with old school R&B/Motown acts. The 5th Dimension sends a nice, hand-written thank you and US$20 to FOH with the runner. Not a lot but enough to buy lunch or pay for parking, and the thank you note will get posted back in our shop. 🙂

        Graciousness and cordiality go a long way with SoundPax. Gratuities are appreciated but not required – some of the coolest swag trinkets I’ve received came with genuine appreciation for “helping us sound good, even if we’re just the 2nd opener of 5 bands.” Well hell yes. Your band got on this tour somehow, so I’ll do my best to give you an honest representation of what you do (unless you tell me you want it different).

  24. Jake Pantangelini

    Gotta say i disagree with most of this.
    I could care less if someone on tour remembers my name, or even asks for it, I’m sound guy, he is bass player.
    I don’t care for a specific input list, just need to know what you have, ie. 3 vocals, 5pcs drums, bass gtr(SL) keys, tracks at drums, and please mention in-ears before doors.
    As for playing before I’m done setting up, just don’t wail on your gtr or snare drum while i’m actually micing it. That would be like me ringing out a vocal mic while you were on stage.
    I’ve quite enjoyed shows where talent “works things out on stage”, They can be quite entertaining.
    Regardless of what you say to anyone, it is terribly unprofessional to ruin a Set
    And honestly I could care less if you know my gear or yours, it’s your show if you suck its your fault. Enough dumb ass bands carry half stacks and 8×10 bass coffins so OF COURSE musicians know nothing about gear or else they would not buy that crap and lug it across the country.
    And honestly if a band told me they wanted to sound like a warm massage….. i may tell them they sounded more like a warm shart after their set.

    I have met the chip though, he has a fanny pack and a pony tail.
    And shitty Sound tech should be told they suck, what are we divas?

    • FOH Vet

      LOL… I’ve been doing FOH at the small venue and outdoors venue level for over 20 years. I agree Jake.

      1. I do not need an input list.
      2. It’s not necessary for me to remember your name, or you mine – IF it’s unlikely you and I will meet again.
      3. Know your gear and the room. Big amp/speaker rigs are so 80s… I don’t care if you’re a death metal band. Know how to adapt your gear and your sound for the room.
      4. Respect the stage. Treat it like it belongs to your “mother” … would you spit tobacco juice on your mom’s flood? Didn’t think so.
      5. I am a professional at what I do. I would like to treated as I treat you – as a peer, a colleague, a partner for the night. Good shows take a team, and the FOH is part of that team.

      • Jake Pantangelini

        You are absolutely right with #4,
        If a band really wants to know how to tour they should hit up the guys in Davey Suicide. Nicest most prepared group.
        they actually had all 4 bands on their last tour running like a machine.

    • Dave

      I agree Jake,I am a musician and I also run sound,i used too have a big bass rig until I ran sound. In my opinion every musician should try running sound they would have a better idea of what the hell is really going on.

    • Sound Chick

      I will disagree with you. I do want an input list. I do not just want four mics + whatever instruments they are playing. To set up the venue that I work at in the best and fastest way possible, I need to know who is singing and playing, and who is just singing or just playing. I don’t really care where they stand on the stage. However, I do need to know that the bass player needs a vocal line too. I do try to have our venue ready so that all they have to do is plug in and we can mic test. Our venue can flip bands in 15 minutes or less if we have a good list of what they are going to need a head of time.

    • bassist

      As a bass player, I agree that large rigs are unnecessary, and i personally own both a 8×10 ampeg coffin with rack gear, and a small rig with a 2×10 combo amp and extra 2×10 cab to go with. I rarely/never play out anymore, but back when I did regularly, all I had was the big rig. Yes it sucked hauling it around, but it was the only rig I could afford at a time, and the large cabinet was necessary for band practice. Small combo bass amps don’t cut it when you’re battling drums and guitars in a rehearsal space. It would have been great to have multiple rigs back then to keep everybody happy, but somehow I never seemed to have extra hundreds of dollars laying around.

  25. Anonymous

    Also,remember,re his alot of times the sound eng might own the audio system and gear that goes with it,and it costs a lot more than a guitar or bass or an amp.he’s watching out for his investment,and be sure and take care of his gear,as you want him to take care of you…12stringtom

  26. David@IndiGoBoom

    Guys and Gals.
    Here is an Amazon link to the funniest book about and written from the perspective of a sound guy (admittedly a studio soung guy) ever written. It had me laughing uncontrollably in any public place I picked it up.
    The Daily Adventures of Mixerman
    Full disclosure (I have no interest of any kind in the book or its publsiher, but i guarantee that any reader will be better off for reading it.
    David G

  27. steve clarke

    I always introduce myself with a hadshake and afterwards offer thanks with a handshake and “Thank you for making me sound good”.

    • Sound Chick

      Believe me when I say that this means a lot!!! You never know when you will run into that sound person again and they WILL remember you. Simply because 9 times out of 10, standing behind a sound board is a thankless job.

  28. Kram Lauzon

    A lot of people “claim to be” a sound tech…does this apply to them as well? Or is a bitch slap for making us sound like shit still in order?

  29. Chad

    And lets not forget STAGE VOLUME… play to the room! If you’re in an arena, no big deal. “I can’t hear the vocals”… I’m sure that Marshall full stack and 8×10 bass cab at full volume is necessary in a 200 seat room. Oh you need it for your tone… that’s right. 🙂

  30. Dooder Dogginz

    Some of this is inaccurate. NEVER walk up to a sound engineer with your idea of how your band should be mixed!!!

  31. audiododd

    One of my biggest pet peeves (and I have many) is the wife/girlfriend of the trying to tell me how to do my job.

    One caveat to that is if I know that she’s a good musician in her own right, I’ll be more willing to listen, but just because you’re banging the guitar player doesn’t make you an expert.

    • Sound Chick

      However, they can be a good reference as they probably know how a band is supposed to sound. Some of the bands that play at the venue where I work are not bands that I would normally listen to. I do want them to sound good though. During warm up, I have been known to ask someone with the band if I am getting it close to what the band normally sounds like. I want the band to sound good. Simple as that. I have had all kinds of people “with the band” come up to me and offer their help. I greatly appreciate it. Makes my good easier. If they are not being obnoxious and just offering their help, I will accept it during set up. IF they truly do know what they are talking about, I have offered a select few to stay during the concert for consultation. I am also the wife of a band leader among other titles. I do try to offer my help when they play at other venues. I am not know that particular room but I do know what they are supposed to sound like. I also know that trying to work with musicians is a lot like herding cats. Just because I am “with the band”, does not mean I do not know what I am talking about.

  32. miki

    out of ease, (How difficult to change he/she to they? or sound guy to sound person?) or because you figured since there are so few female sound tech/engineers because YOU’VE only met 5, that none would be reading your article? Granted there are very few of us, but it looks like a few have indeed read your article. I being one female out of something like 3% (though I am not sure how they arrive at that %) who has been mixing live sound since 1979 read it because it was a facebook post of an associate and I was killing time and despite disagreeing with some of your pointers (see below)I continue reading because i often find the comments posted on this type of post to be humorous, and I was not let down!
    *Don’t bother with an input list, ( I’ll set it up my way anyway, and if I am mixing, I will decide whether to use a bottom snare mic – or opt for a 2nd kick mic, or use overheads (generally not on small stages indoors or in tents) or mic the bass in addition to the DI.
    *Don’t even a stage plot unless it is current! It’s worse having to undo a prewired stage because I was sent the “Old stage plot” than to just wait for the backline to be in place.
    *Don’t tell me how to EQ your vocals in the house-especially an empty house at sound check
    *Some of us can (and are required to) mix any genre. I am not a musician, but i STILL DESERVED TO BE TREATED WITH RESPECT. It’s quite possible (as in my case) I DO THIS FOR A LIVING, while the musicians all have “day jobs” if you have a specific request, suggestion, or warning about your instrument or setup, fine tell me-but don’t tell me how to mix! I can’t tell you how often I will get 4 or 5 contradicting requests or suggestions from a 5 piece band! “He can’t sing, keep him down in the mix”, “He’s WAY too LOUD, make sure you keep the drum mics off!”
    *I am a professional, how the mix sounds IS A REFLECTION OF ME, almost as much as the band I don’t “ruin it out of spite because somebody was a dick to the bartender!!!(maybe he deserved it!)
    *I don’t care if they remember my name, (though being the first, if not only female engineer they have met they usually do) I doubt I will be able to remember theirs. (unless their name is Mike- which there seems to be A LOT of in this business!!)

    • T

      You are a huge feminist bitch. No one is throwing down the word “guy” to defame lady sound people. Get your life together and complain about something that matters.

      • L

        I am a female sound tech and have no problem with the terminology. I DO however have issue with the following :
        “If you’re a dick to the bartender he’ll tell the sound guy and the sound guy may then decide to ruin your set out of spite.”
        Really??? If this has happened to the author or other musicians that’s obviously unfortunate – but including it in an article describing sound engineers in general is frankly ridiculous and insulting.

      • miki

        Hey TTTTT
        I wasn’t even complaining about being called a guy, but rather the “laziness” of the author. (changing guy to PERSON requires typing 4 extra letters 15 times,+ 2 for you sound man, and 1 extra to change him/he to them/they numerous times).
        I’ve been doing this for 30+ years (FOR A LIVING), and have always been “one of the guys” and I can on count on one hand the number of sound “guys”,/production crews, musicians, promoters, bar owners, etc.I have NOT gotten along with. ( I don’t even want to think about what YOU DO WITH ONE HAND) As I said, I’m not a feminist, and to be honest with a few exceptions, the working relationship I’ve had with the 1/2 dozen or so female engineers I have actually met hasn’t been very positive.(regrettably). I don’t give a shit what anybody else calls me, especially YOU T (which I am guessing is short for Twit). My life is quite together, maybe you should look at your OWN. (judging by the comments you posted here, I suspect your life could be summed up by what you do with ONE HAND.
        ARI, I apologize for the off topic rant, I really have no problem with the guy/gal thing but the “OUT OF EASE” because “IN MY 550 SHOWS I’VE MET MAYBE 5 WOMEN ENGINEERS” comment in your reply to “not a sound guy” seemed a little condescending,

        • Lazy writer

          True that. Professional journalism takes that extra effort.

      • Fem Sound ENG

        T, you are a disturbed individual that probably has issues with woman in general or maybe mommy didn’t hold you enough. As women in this field we have the right to speak up when we see any injustice, especially in text, no matter how minor. We are trying to point out to the author of the article that he is perpetuating a bigotry, whether intentional or not. It won’t cease to continue if we say nothing. Your name calling and sexist remarks just fuel the fire. And to the author, the fact that you were aware enough to write a “disclaimer” also means you are aware enough to know this is offensive. Even if you had only met one female sound engineer your entire life, her voice still needs to be heard. Your article reeks of “respect for all” yet you failed to respect the hard working women who I promise you have to work 100 times harder than her male counterpart to “prove her worth”. If the overall emphasis is respect and treat others kindly, then why is it such a sore subject to want something as simple as being referred to as an engineer or tech without the gender specifics?

  33. Dave Hill

    1. a reasonable stage volume is the key to a great mix.
    2. If you start with a good sounding instrument/drums the mix will reflect that.
    3. There is a limit to how much vocal level you can get in the monitors.
    4. know what you NEED in your monitor mix and ask for it.
    5. if you are lucky enough to get a sound check, follow the engineers requests and be quiet if you are not being asked to play.
    6. if you like /want FX, ask for it.
    7. treat each other with respect, we all want your show to be as good as it can be. REALLY!
    8. If you are in a nice venue, the sound tech knows what they are doing. If you cant accept this, hire your own guy to mix.
    9. berating the sound guy over the PA is a good way to have a half step pitch change applied to your vocals for the rest of your set.

  34. George Flores

    What I did back in the day was I would always get to know the guy without getting in his way.. also I would tip him before the show making the hint if he takes care of us there will be more where that came from after the show.
    I NEVER once had bad sound due to the sound guy…NOT once. 🙂
    Much Respect.

  35. Dan

    Great post. I’ve been an FOH guy in LA for 15 years. I gave up playing for mixing because, frankly, it pays exponentially more.

    A happy sound guy is making art in tandem with the players. If he’s any good, it’s more than likely that he is a musician himself. He probably understands what you’re dealing with on stage as well as you do. If he asks you to do something or not to do something, it’s not to make your life miserable; it’s to make you sound better. Be cool and let him be part of the process. What will make his night great? Having you sound great. That’s what makes it fun. Creation in time — there’s nothing like it, or else you (the musician) would have found something else to do by now.

    Just like any artist, it’s pretty easy to shut a sound guy down; to convince him that you’re not worth the effort it will take to make something amazing happen. Imagine how you’d feel if someone treated you like a bus boy when you’re actually a talented artist. It happens to me ALL the time. (No offense to bus boys, everyone’s gotta make a buck.)

    Be friendly, be respectful, and make awesome music together. Everyone will have a great night.

  36. Mark Olson

    The FOH mix is the key to the whole night. I’m a singer. I got all the dogma in front of me when I meet a “sound guy” at the gig. I know what my set should sound like. I know what I want my voice to sound like. I know that I DO NOT KNOW how to get that from the board, and in my first meeting, I know that I must establish respect and trust with the person enlisted to the job of making an agreeable noise. “Make me awesome”, is a simple request, and yet it expresses trust in the expertise of the guy behind the faders. Shake hands. Get your signals together. Tell him that all you need to do is sell beer and sound good…and remember him by name on the microphone…

  37. Rocker

    The other alternative is to have your own sound guy to run the board. Be it at a club a theatre an arena or stadium. Your sound guy knows what you want. I can see if your sound guy don’t know what he is doing getting bumped by the house guy but he has to be real bad.

    • Esol Esek

      Great producer/engineers are remembered (by intelligent musicians at least AND by a lot of the public – Quincy Jones, Butch Vig, Glyn Johns, George Martin) with the greatest of musicians for a reason – they made a huge difference. I hate to bring up age, but let’s face it, success isn’t just a brew of youthful energy, it’s also the glue of older experience, and the young band that is smart enough to pay that heed may find it making the difference between success and could-have-been status.

      I know we’re talking live not studio, but musicians are in the sound business, unless they’re deluded that it’s about power-posing, so respecting people who deliver any kind of improvement in sound are critical, to say the least. EIther a musician is in it for the love of sound, or they’re excellent schmoozers. I don’t think people with no talent and no charm to the gatekeepers attain success, sorry, and club owners and sound guys are gatekeepers. Anyone remember word of mouth? That’s an element in selling a band, right? Why not make a fan of the sound man? He probably knows the other sound people in town, right, maybe at labels? I mean, this seems like such a no-brainer.

      Sure, sometimes musicians run into incompetents, or siblings of a deaf club owner, but there’s probably a lot better enemies to make in the world of music than the live sound engineer, for christ’s sake.

  38. Tommy Lee

    I’ve been mixing live sound since 1969. When all of my friends were buying musical instruments I bought a sound board. This is the way I’ve always looked at my profession. Each member of a band plays an instrument and I play the entire band. I take this seriously and take great pride in making whom ever I’m mixing for sound better than they have ever sounded before. The way they sound is a direct reflection on how I do my job. I never worry about who wants what. What they’re going to get is the best possible job that I can do. I never set it and forget it. I continue to work on the mix until the band has screamed “thank you and goodnight”. I’m always ready to drop the volume as this takes place. I am completely self taught. I’m not a sound guy, an engineer, or anything else. I’m just the person with the best job in this insane business. I’m the person who gets to play the band. I mix live sound.

  39. drummerboy

    bs be professional take pride in what you do and everybody will be happy with your job “” sound guys””

  40. ken

    Take a look at input list! Back stage left? Back stage right? WTF? Good advice but use correct theatrical terminology.

    • Ari Herstand

      Ha! Can we say brain fart? The irony is I’m an actor as well. FIXED. nice catch

  41. Lisa

    I’d like to add that the article above apllies not only to the ‘sound guy’, but to pretty much any-one working in a club. I work in one as a bartender, my boyfriend is the chief light technician. And indeed; we’re al co-workers and friends. Way too often some-one hires the place for a party and not only expects it to be an all-in deal (including all the people that work the lights, the sound, clean up, etc) without even mentioning anything about it during negiotiations, buy act like the place is theirs and just expect ohters to ‘fix’ it. Not bothering to learn names, ‘borrowing’ safetyhooks for their own gear without asking, jamming out plugs because they need electricity without even wondering…. definately not learning any names. It’s just disrepectful and pissing everyone off.

  42. Truth Time

    Come on Ari, you can’t be giving away these secrets, hahahah. The secret being, “being a nice person”. It’s amazing how many musicians walk into a new club with a giant ego and think they should be treated like kings or queens. And… it’s their first show. But come on man, you can’t be sharing these secrets! Now my genuine niceness won’t stand out as much – everybody’s going to be doing it

  43. Chris

    At the end of the show, thank the soundman, by name, over the PA! Everyone loves to see their name in lights, and will pay off the next time you’re at that venue (and will help ensure there is a next time).


  44. ras sambo bey

    as a audio engineer that loves mixing live shows, there is respect due to all that I work with. if you are a rookie, or a well season performer you get the same thing that I have to give,=hard work. at the end of the day, its just another show for all to shine.

  45. Roger

    I agree. I am both a musician and a sound engineer.
    As a musician , I also make sure that towards the end of our set we always ask the audience to thank the sound engineer. It is always appreciated.
    It does not matter who you are , I treat everyone with the same respect and courtesy, if you are a young teenager doing your first gig to a seasoned musician you get the same treatment.
    When sound checking, saying please and thank you makes a huge difference

  46. Anonymous

    I started in the Biz in the 60’s and have been called alot of things. I prefer the respect I earn over that which I’m given.
    “Three retired sound geeks talking”
    1. Windy isin’t it?

    2. No, I think it’s Thursday.

    3. So am I, lets get another beer.


  47. Anonymous

    Just learned an incredible amount. Sending out a big thank you to all the people, both female and male, that really do work so hard in such a challenging industry. Hopefully I will be able to mold my own reality in a similar way.

  48. Anonymous

    The “Chip” section was very insightful, they must grow these guys on an island near England.

    • Soundguy

      Nah.. we grow a layer with every asshole musician entering the stage pretending to be stars and every one else is their slave 😉

  49. wife of an audio tech...sound

    These posts have been the most hilarious and accurate description of what a sound guys wife hears when he comes home. These guys love what they do and genuinely want to create a mix as best they can for every single band in every venue. Why else would they put up with all the nonsense, , the inexperienced musicians, inflated egos, late hours, wasted time, ungratefulness, criticism and more. They are lovers of music and have usually spent yesrs listening to many different genres in many different types of venues…….even churches. Thanks for making me laugh!

  50. Nickolai

    How about we just be respectful of everyone, regardless of whether you can get something from them or not.

  51. LD Man

    This is great advice! I work in a music venue as a Lighting Designer/programmer. Our sound man (audio mix engineer) is amazing at what he does. We work well together and have a lot of fun. It’s amazing how much more we do for the people who treat us well! We always do a good, professional job, but for the people who are nice, fun, and respectful, we go all out! These rules should apply to the entire staff that produce a show. No one wants a show that sounds great but look terrible. The audience usually notices a lame looking show, even if they are there for the music.

  52. James Candler TechInstSCE

    Mostly great comments,
    I however also strive hard to get the monitor mix as best as I can for the musicians on stage, as this is really important, if they can’t hear properly then they won’t play as well as they can’t hear foh only thing they hear is the monitor mix (I have up to ten monitor mixes available) I use a DiGiCo sd9 mixing console as my main mixer, I own my own ps ago have built my own pa.s etc

  53. Hum from Hong Kong

    I have been working with sound for nearly 30 years. From stage crew, cable boy, design sound systems, installations, prepare and mix with large and small concerts. I am also a musician. If I don’t get respect from musicians, I still learn to have joy from my Lord. Difficult things often happen. But if I can help delivery good message, good music and serve audience. Then I am happy. I learn not to hurt audience’s ears. I want the best speech intelligibility. i.e. I must prepare for very good coverage. I learn as a system engineer afte I mix for over 20 years. I am over 50 now and I still improving in the mix. I listen to classical music very much these years. I find my ears are still improving in terms of pitch, music details. So, guys and sisters, please protect your ears. Especially when you test the monitor wedges feedback level. Blessing!

  54. Joe C.

    Pretty spot on article. I developed skills to run sound over the past 15 years. I was always intrigued by the tech guys at concerts and thought their jobs were cool. I got my start simply because I hung out in a club where the owner would set the bands up then walk away and I knew that wasn’t fair. So is literally inserted myself into the mix and started making adjustments until he had no choice but to start paying me.
    The only thing I might add here especially for performers that are new to the stage don’t throw anyone under the bus. Asking the crowed if everything sounds alright is the biggest rookie mistake ever. It also is very hard to take comments like, “my girlfriend says she cannot hear the vocals” constructively. When you send somebody over to complain about how I’m mixing in the middle of the show you are inherently telling me you don’t think know how to do my job.
    Look up “Cat Power sound guy trees” to see the most offensive abuse of a sound guy,

    • Fem Sound ENG

      That video is horrible and I commend the sound engineer for being as level headed as he could be. I don’t know if I would have been able to be that calm. That being said, I have worked with Cat Power before and unfortunately she is a bit of a nut job. She never shows up for sound check and you’re lucky if you can even find her before her set. She is notorious for having breakdowns on stage. Poor guy!

  55. hippydog

    I find it interesting that THIS ARTICLE by Ari is the one that goes viral..
    who’d of thunk?

  56. Richard

    sound en·gi·neer
    a technician dealing with acoustics for a broadcast or musical performance.

  57. yogi-one

    Good advice….with a majority of soundmen. I’ll try not to think about the time the sound guy told me my amp wasn’t working, so then I plugged directly into it and it worked fine. After which he still couldn’t figure out how to get me in the system. The festival this was at apologized and gave us a better spot the following year. OR the time the whole band went down, and it took us ten minutes to find the sound man, who was down the street at a food truck.
    BUT, most of them are at least willing to do their best, regardless of ability level, so yes, this is good advice.

  58. Gary Ansell

    I always loved it when they would introduce me to the head person and my answer would be WHAT! you could always see the OH Shit look on their faces.!!!!

  59. DocDocDoc

    Being both an amateur sound guy and amateur musician (amateur in the sense of not making a living from it), Honestly, to introduce yourself to people whom you work with, that is not a thing specific to sound guys, it’s simply the professional way to behave in any kind of business. You can easily generalize this advice: Do not piss off your business partners. Or: do not bite the hand feeding you.

    I know of venues that employ sound guys who have not yet understood this. And believe me, the word spreads faster than light, all musicians in town already know. “Oh the venue has such a good reputation, of only it wasn’t for their sound guy” – that’s what they say.

    Being a sound guy in my opinion is more than turning knobs. It’s making the band feel good. It’s signalling “hi there, I’m here to take care (!) of you and your sound.” If you don’t create that feeling as a sound guy, why should musicians be willing to accept your care?

  60. Miller

    “I’ve been doing this for 30 years,” has always prefaced an out of touch and untalented sound guy.

    • Mixerperson

      “I’ve been doing this 30 years….” is a problem when you hear it in a bar. “Yeah, you probably still have the same bar stool…” What he should be saying is “I’ve got 1 year of bar mixing experience, 30 times over.”

  61. Bill

    I would add that musicians should get to the gig early and get set up as soon as possible. A good sound engineers will get to the venue early to do some “housekeeping” and it is extremely frustrating when a band shows up late and we have to rush the setup in order to get the band up and running on time.

  62. Matt

    A sound man, sound engineer, or sound technician is at the mercy of the band in many ways. If the bass player (for instance) has a tone originating from his amp that is so “wrong” and / or loud and wrong that it causes the mic’d snare drum’s snares to resonate at a sympathetic frequency, then the sound technician has little choice than to go “insult” the bass player by explaining this to him. I used to constantly battle things like this when I was in the business, battling egos as gently as I could with polite scientific explanations… still, many band members are so falsely expert on their so-called signature sound that they will not cooperate, or make any tonal changes. The same is true for bands or even a single member who insists on having his amp cranked up to 11 (ala Spinal Tap). If one, or more members won’t turn down, you have no other choice than to leave them completely out of the mix, trying to build the remaining mix around these volume whores. It’s a catch 22, and a no win situation at times, which leaves the sound technician wringing hands in the black hole of pride he feels over what is being interpreted by the audience as his work… the best job that he can do. I have pissed off a few bands to a high degree a few times by just telling them that I will pull the plug on their asses if they can’t make subtle changes to their back-line tone, or volume. My philosophy is this. A great sound technician is there to make the bands final product… their sound, listenable. Not to try and color it tonally to such a great degree that I’m sweeping the mids on the console to an insane negative degree, or leaving certain instruments out of the mix altogether. No matter what a musician thinks is their signature tone, or sound… if it’s wrong and causing problems, then it’s wrong! It’s not up for interpretation, unless you want a howling feedback loop from a wrongly set acoustic guitar, and the subsequent “Hey, my acoustic guitar is also a vibrator that’s coming apart at the glue joints!” as part of your so-called signature sound. The catch 22, is that usually the band doesn’t know the sound technician, and has very little trust that he’s going to make them sound great. They have no way of really subjectively listening to his product, because the are behind it. The sound technician on the other hand, has EVERY way of listening to their product, first un-mic’d, then as he is shaping, or faithfully reproducing it! What does that mean? It means that although trust is a two-way street, they MUST trust him to a greater degree, and let go of the reigns. Yeah, there are hack sound technicians out there, without dispute, but a hack is a hack, and he will have a pretty well known reputation as being a hack. If this is the case, you’re either screwed, or you tell the hack one of two things that he has heard many times before; either “Hey, I’ll slip you a $20 if you let our sound guy take over for this set!” or “Hey, let me create the mix or we’ll beat your ass unrecognizable.” A sound technician who is good, decent, or great deserves to have respect, and to be left alone to do his job. Never make broad suggestions to a sound tech who hasn’t been labeled as a hack. My biggest pet peeve was musicians who would ask one of their girlfriends, wives, or buddies out in the audience to “Go stand out there, and tell us how it sounds!” Then the amateur idiot asked to do the favor would walk around to different parts of the room, craning their neck around like a supposed audiophile judging the finer points of what you were doing wrong, then run back to the stage like the idiot lackey that they are, giving you a bad report card. Then, indubitably, the lead singer would shout out over the mic; “Hey man, could you bring the kick drum up, my vocals up, and I also need some more reverb in my monitor!” or something like that. I reply back “Yeah, I can!” meaning that I have the ability to, but am not going to. I just bide my time while the chimps sling shit on stage, waiting for the end of the night…. or the next more professional band. My biggest near-murder situation came in ’96 running sound for the not quite functioning alcoholic country singer / has been Earl Thomas Conley, who arrived whiskey drunk, and on the heels of a vocal chord surgery. His band was top notch, and super embarrassed when he announced after his first song; “Y’all will just have to bare with me, I’m doing the best job I can with this shit equipment, and shit sound man that I can! His vocals were so hideous that words can’t describe it. I just reproduced his shit until he tripped on one of the monitors, and fell face first on the stage. He left the gig screaming and cussing, and his band took over at that point, and put on a hell of a show… and thanked me profusely over the mic several times during the show. Yep, glad I’m out of the business.

    • DocDocDoc

      “The catch 22, is that usually the band doesn’t know the sound technician, and has very little trust that he’s going to make them sound great.”

      This is really a big problem. For one of my bands, I am the sound guy and the bass player at the same time. Needless to say, not mixing FOH will never give you a real good sound – but I we cannot afford a sound tech that I could put my trust in. (There are some which I do trust, but they are too expensive for us.)

      This is not because I have general trouble trusting people. It is based on experience. For example: A university’s big band plays at a major event of the university. The stage features high-end equipment, including a Allen&Heath iLive System. I can immediately hear that the gate on the bass drum is not properly adjusted. Sometimes there are huge amounts of kick, most times there is none. The sound guy does not care. Other example: Local renowned venue, I sent a channel list two weeks before the show, including a friendly request for a e906 mic for a guitar amp. No reply. Then, during sound check: “yeah I got your list but I don’t have the stuff you asked for” – essentially not a problem, but why don’t you tell me before? In most venues, I bring the proper mics for my bands along. SM58 and SM57 are not the answer to all questions! I could make a long list of issues from experience.

      But, to say something positive: There are other venues with sound guys who know how to do it and who do care. Sometimes even for jam sessions, which is close to incredible. If you treat those guys right as a musician, they will remember your face – I assume that they don’t put effort into remembering faces of people who treat them badly, just too many, I guess. And you will remember their face. And things will be fine. In your head or note book, you’ll soon have a list of good sound techs that you would call.

      There is no way around that, both for the sound tech and the band: make your lists. If you can afford it, avoid working a second time with people that did not make it onto your list.

  63. gregg carpenter

    thank you from a 30 some year vet of live sound

  64. Ben

    As a sound guy, I find it’s always the smaller bands that think they are the best and treat engineers of any kind av – lighting – video etc like crap and always think they can do a better job. The bigger bands are really nice down to earth, respect feedback, and ask for advice. Or that’s just my experience.

  65. Patrice Paquin

    I saw my friend soundman “Philou” really pisse of when a young “no talent but whit an attitude” rap singer command him, in front of all, “Yo DJ, give me more juice (volume)” !!!

  66. John Yo

    As an engineer who takes pride in what I do the thing that is guaranteed to wind me up are bands that fail to take any pride in what they do. I mean, there is nothing cool about crappy gear and turning it up to 11. I think the most important thing is that the band know their own songs, are well rehearsed and know their gear well. I treat everyone with the same respect but turn up to a gig without a jack cable or ask me for a drum key and you have lost my respect instantly, no longer can I be bothered to make an effort to mix your set, just like you cannot be bothered to make an effort with the most simplest of details. Basically the gig is about the artist, not the sound guy, so the artist must take it upon themselves and make it priority number one to give the engineer a well thought out sound that is a joy to mix.

  67. Anonymous

    about the input list and the stage plot-
    unless its a very small act, i demand it wherever i work, and i work in tiny to huge venues. i like to get there early, set everything up they way its supposed to be, and then relax with a cold one till the band comes through the doors. iv’e been workin like this for years, and the happinnes on the band members faces when they see that everything’s up and ready to go is great every time. starts us off on the right foot.

    about the right to left-left to right on the input list-
    to me it only makes sense to set up the inputs in the order they come in on the desk. if there are 3 vocal mics for example, it wouldnt make much sense that the first channel will be the right mic…common sense. altough i know some guys who like to have the lead vocal first (or last). anyway,make sure your input list is understandable at first glance. nobody likes to try and figure out where the vocal mics actually go,or how the drum kit is set up.

  68. Anonymous

    MOST IMPORTANTLY: find out if he drinks, what he drinks and PROMPTLY purchase him a drink… if he doesn’t then offer to get him some water as he definitely hasn’t the time and may have forgotten his water bottle.

  69. Anonymous

    You can Call me That Asshole that twists the knobs as long as you pay me in advance! LOL I dont get my panties about every little thing. I make sure I check my ego at the door. I want a great show and I get alot of repeat bussiness because of my demeaner and ability to handle anything. Ive seen every new gotta have it gadget since the seventies and I know what works for me and reliable. You know whats even better than having a pretty title? Knowing that some promoters and venues won’t do a show without your name attached to it regardless of your education. Oh and I’m educated, it was easy, boring and mostly unnecessary. Notebly it was a good way for big sound companies to get free help via internships. Yet another way for colleges to separate you from your money by teaching you something you can learn better by jumping in and helping out. 🙂 Karma has always had a funny way of fixing an ego. Oh and number 10 should be dont touch my F’ing Cables Lmfoa!

  70. Knobtwister

    You can Call me That Asshole that twists the knobs as long as you pay me in advance! LOL I dont get my panties about every little thing. I make sure I check my ego at the door. I want a great show and I get alot of repeat bussiness because of my demeaner and ability to handle anything. Ive seen every new gotta have it gadget since the seventies and I know what works for me and reliable. You know whats even better than having a pretty title? Knowing that some promoters and venues won’t do a show without your name attached to it regardless of your education. Oh and I’m educated, it was easy, boring and mostly unnecessary. Notebly it was a good way for big sound companies to get free help via internships. Yet another way for colleges to separate you from your money by teaching you something you can learn better by jumping in and helping out. Karma has always had a funny way of fixing an ego. Oh and number 10 should be dont touch my F’ing Cables Lmfao!

  71. Squint Sidekick

    In regards to the whole “I’m an Engineer” debate, just know that in many States and local jurisdictions here in the US, if you are offering/selling your services to the public, it is illegal to represent/call yourself as an Engineer if you are not registered/licensed as one. It is in Canada as well.

  72. Sir Mixalot

    OK suggestions Ari, But you left out the most useful one.

    If you’re going to have the sound person mix your band, send them a couple of MP3s of your songs a few days ahead of time so they can get an idea of your material.

    • Midwest Sound Chick

      I love it when a band sends a couple of mp3s or even some Youtube links so I know what they want to sound like. If the band does mostly upbeat stuff but plans on throwing in a ballad or two, send me an mp3 of each kind. I am happy with a 30 second clip versus going in blind.

  73. G.W.VanderHaeghe

    After 35 yrs as a sound engineer/ tech, producer/composer/musician,yes I have seen quite a variety of situations .
    My tip to bands, acts. Show up on time for sound check, realize very few clubs/venues have great systems and monitoring. Don’t flood the stage sound over the house system. Think of using V drums or screens for acoustic drums.guitar players learn how to get your sound at any volume(yes I like to crank a couple of double stacks) but in a 150-300 person club ?not really the place for it. get in on time, get a comfortable on stage sound and monitor mix FOR EVERY BODY, do not go and play with the volumes after sound check, don’t worry about the front end if your good on stage any good sound person will work with the front house mix as needed. remember your a entertainer ,preforming for people to enjoy themselves ,have fun but respect the fact your not there to party except musically, be friendly to the audience on and off stage.Call the sound tech a few days before if you have special requirements (effects, harmonizers, and seriously discuss requirements.)recently I encourage the use of ear buds and higher end wireless monitor systems over floor wedges . the use of personal monitor mixers ensures everyone can mix in what the need in the monitor mix with out effecting the stage sound. Last big tip. When you walk on stage it’s not time to start tuning up and discussing what song to professional. Oh and pay me well.

  74. Anonymous

    You get what you give, give respect be professional and that is what the sound guy will give you.

  75. Bev the sound tech

    My number one would be assuming that the sound tech is a guy.

  76. Louise - The Unsigned Guide

    Hi Bev,

    You beat me to it! Was just about to pull up the assumption that the sound engineer is a guy! Plenty of female engineers out there too. Tut tut 🙂

  77. Jaanus

    That was great and clear article. I have to communicate with sound people a lot.

  78. Pickers

    You know you’re screwed when you go up and politely introduce yourself, hold out out your hand for a shake, they look at you like your a c*unt and say ‘just get on the stage’, in a an agetated tone and proceed to make your very well rehearsed sound, friendly nature and respectful band look like the biggest chumps ever in front of 10 record label A&R’s. Unfortunately this happens.
    I also happen to be a sound engineer, which makes all the more difficult to fathom.

    • Fem Sound ENG

      As a sound engineer it bums me out when I hear/read stories like yours. I’m not saying I’ve never had a bad day, but geez at least try and give everyone the benefit of the doubt, right? It pains me that there are “house techs” out there that are just plain mean for no damn reason. You’re only as good as your next gig, so chill the f**k out! 😛

    • Midwest Sound Chick

      I too am sad to hear that. However, if I am busy doing something, give me a minute to finish what I am doing. I will greet you much more warmly if you give me the respect of simply waiting a minute. That said, I love it when anyone from the band takes time to introduce themselves. It makes my night.

  79. Anonymous

    Makes me think of Joe Jackson .. “the load out” 🙂 When I had to play ‘as a DJ) on rented equipment, that’s what I used to play as last song before the rental sound guys started packing up.. and each and every time they all knew the song and appreciated me playing it for them 🙂

  80. Doug

    Here’s another one that wasn’t mentioned. Musicians should always learn to name frequencies. It’s not that hard. They should at least know the frequencies of their open strings for reference. Sound guys LOVE it when you state (assuming you are accurate) something like “the monitors are a little heavy around 200HZ and I could use less of 1.2 on the lead vocal on the strip”. Don’t say “I need less mids” or something equally nebulous. What YOU hear as mids may be different than what someone else does. Learn to speak their language and learn to ask for exactly what you need and you have just made a friend at the mix position. Especially on days where they are mixing lots of bands, your band will stand out as the one that knows its stuff.

    • Mixerperson

      Doug, I think there needs to be a Rosetta Stone for audio technicians that translates our “high/mid/low” into Muscianese. “High” to a symphony string player tops out around 2kHz. That leaves out 3 octaves. Musicians directly work with a much narrower slice of spectrum than SoundPax.

      I’ve taken this approach: I’ve learned what my natural and falsetto singing ranges are, I know the highest pitch I can whistle is 2.2kHz, the lowest is 800Hz, etc. Combined, these references allow me to resolve frequencies to notes of the scale, and talk to musicians in their language. It often gets surprised looks.

    • Midwest Sound Chick

      I don’t mind if they say I need less mids or more bass. I work with a lot of young bands and many are young people. I will cut them some slack. I will however remind them that what they are hearing on stage is greatly different than what I am hearing plus it will sound different once the place if full of people. Trying to adjust what the house sound from the stage will not fly with me.

  81. Kim

    Very good advice, being a sound guy and musician myself, I always try to respect others doing their job out on gigs, regardless if I’m on a stage or behind a desk.

    Though with that said, I’ve experienced a much bigger problem in these situations, namely The Club Owner. All too often (especially on smaller clubs/bars) the owner doesn’t respect his clients, or has no understanding anything at all about audio equipment and how long it usually takes to setup. I’ve experienced completely rediculous management problems; you aren’t able to contact the sound guy in advance because the owner hasn’t booked him for the job yet, you’ve been promised a PA which isn’t available, there’s no one at the club that actually knows how the backline signal chain is set up, your payment for the gig is “adjusted” post-gig based on how much people came there to see you, you’ve been double-booked for working and have to leave because you’re not getting paid, etc.
    I guess I’ve seen too much of the bad side, but that side does exist and is very straining for everyone involved (including the owner). I’m surprised many venues and clubs work at all from what I’ve seen from the inside.

    • Fem Sound ENG

      I agree. It’s astounding how many “venues” that offer live shows have no business doing so.

  82. Anonymous

    I am glad someone has finally put these things in print. I have for years felt this way and respect is the key. Be polite even if you want to knock the hell out of him…smile. I find the first person I talk to is the sound people….I have ways I want to sound but I discuss it with them first…when you do that they will try to work with you. As for the asshole………..well asshole are assholes…but try anyway…

  83. John Mac

    I have spent the last 30 years as a Sound person and have mixed bands in Stadiums, Arenas, Clubs and Bars.
    My favourite is Bars.
    To me the major thing that many sound people do not do is listen to the artist/artists acoustically and get an idea of what the artist is trying to create.
    To me it is most important to portray the artist’s “raw” talent and improve on it.
    Too many sound people get caught up in utilising effects and inserts ignoring basic equalisation.
    The most important knob on any console is ones “High Pass Filter”.
    Judicious use of this facility will clean up many a “Murky” Mix.
    Please remember that clean equalisation is far more more effective than gratuitous use of effects units.

  84. Eimear Post Ginger

    Only Men can work in sound it looks like also. Quick now, best get back to the kitchen………..

  85. Anonymous

    to this I would add: and realize that the soundman is not 100% responsible for making a band sound good. 99% of that job falls on the band. I’ve had people come up to me while I’m mixing, look at me accusatory and say “the band sounds like shit!” All I can think to say is “Yup. You’re right. They do!” What do they expect me to do about it? Buy the guitar player a new amp? Give the singer voice lessons? If your band sounds like shit before the soundman even steps into the equation, there’s not much he can do to fix that. You can’t polish a turd. With a PA system, aside from a few tricks, I can only make a shitty sounding band sound shitty louder.

  86. "Dr. Dave"

    A “Sound Man” can either enhance a performance, or destroy one. It’s wise to treat them well, don’t let them drink, and pay them well.

  87. Red herring

    I played at Annabel’s night club in plymouth Devon, on the 3rd jan 2014, his name was josh, and he was spot on, mic’d every thing, be bop yamaha drum kit, valve guitar amp, two vocal mic’s and a DI for the bass, and it was wonderful, and he was a musician, and I think that gave him the edge over most sound guys, you put trust into a sound guy, especially when you want another gig at that club. Most of our gigs, I do the sound and preform at the same time. I want every venue to supply supply the pa, with a sound guy, I can only dream that every gig would be like Annabel’s.

  88. Dan Perez

    Most of the time when the sound guy’s a dick, in my experience, it’s a young guy who think he knows everything and wants to tell you how to do your job. I literally had a monitor tech look me dead in the eye and wave his hand over a knob when I asked him to lower me in my mix. The same guy tried to tell me how to hold the wireless base for my mic when I took it out of the case and set it down. Smh…

    • Dan Perez

      And NO sound guy can “make” a set if the band sucks. Don’t give yourselves so much credit. When your job is done perfectly, no one in the audience should know you’re even there until the band shouts you out, which they should if you’re killing it!

  89. Picker5

    I’d say the best advice is to remember that the soundman does not work FOR you, he works WITH you. He is just as important as anyone on stage with you.

    Secondly remember that what you hear on stage is different to what the people out front (including the soundman) hear. If you are on stage and think it’s too bassy then just for a second wonder whether that’s just the stage sound and perhaps just ask if it’s too bassy out front. Have faith!!!

  90. Mark

    Thanks for letting some musicians how to properly conduct themselves. I’ve been an engineer for over thirty years , having done any and all kinds of gigs .the only things you might add to your suggestions is :
    1] show up early as possible [not 5 minutes before] -try to get a feel for what can reasonably be done [you really don’t need a 30 piece drum kit for openers, etc.]
    2] Try and gear your act for the venue
    3] show up totally ready [keyboard players bring your amp, etc.]
    4] a bit mutual respect goes a long way
    thanks again

  91. rye

    hey you cheap bitches what about giving the guy a tip, not talking about advice here. How about throwing him a couple of bucks so he has a reason to care about your band?

  92. Bud

    I’ve been reading this thread and some things I agree with and some things I think are ego tistical. I and a Sound engineer and I take that seriously. I can tear a console ch apart during a show and replace a part as well as an amp. I can do a live mix from protools to q-base. I can rebuild a speaker cab as well as recone. I can mix a stadium as well as a club. I mix to the croud that is listening not to the band. Their the ones you want to come back to see the band again. I can tear a computer apart and put it back together. I have my papers as well but that doesnt mean crap to me. Their nothing but trophys on my wall. I’ve been mixing sence 1974 after working as a roadie for 4 yearz. untill someone let me work it out. BUT I was a musician first playing Guitar Bass and keys and drums. It gave me an advantage above others in the field. I dont just place a mix I produce it. All bands need it. I dont much like all the digi crap out there but am stuck with using it I’m an analog engineer and always will be. I dont like pulling up pages to change a freq when I can go right to the ch and fix it manually in a milli sec. This industry is crashing with all this digi crap. It was meant for the studio and your bedroom not live in my opinion. There are alot of people in this position ( Men and Women ) and there are good and bad. Some are worthless and some get tagged because they have an off night. Its happened to me and pleny that I know. For those that are out there thinking that they arent engineers because they dont have class papers and you do….. Your full of shit. Your papers dont mean shit. Mine dont. Mine are from Berkley and the RIA institute. But I only got them to work with NFL Films and the Union. They dont mean crap. What does is my resume. Ive been with MTN sound , Clair Bros , Show Co . Nightmare Inc from Alice to Kiss Journey Cheap trick Stix etc etc. I think that speakes more than my degrees. Now shoot us down because were engineers and we dont agree with your damn I PADZ or your papers

    • Midwest Sound Chick

      I am happy that you can do all that. Those are jobs that certainly need to be done. I can not currently take apart and put many things back together. Not that I am not cable of doing them. I have simply not had to or I have had access to guys like you that can do it faster than I could. That does not mean I am not really good at my job and take great pride in what I do. My venue is an extremely odd shaped room in a metal building. The sound booth is not in a logical place either. However, I have learned to compensate for it and turn out great sound. I am equally comfortable mixing an outdoor concert. I do not have a piece of paper that says I can do all of that. This does not devalue what I do at all. We all have our skills. One that I am better at then some is dealing with musicians. Could be all the years I have been married to one. Their brains working different than others. That is why they are musicians and not accountants. The point is just cause you can do all those things does not make you better than me just because I can not at this current time. You came across very arrogant in your post. You may not have meant to. I don’t know. But it does sound like you are on a serious ego trip.

  93. Terry Mc

    Spot on Bud. Im an engineer and have my papers too. The only time they’ve meant any thing is for the comercial work. I cut my teeth on monitors for 6 years before I moved to FOH. The resume looks good and thats all that counts anymore. I do about 30% comercial work and tons of local bands. I dont try to pacify the bands anymore because most dont understand what we’re doing anyway. Some will ask me to change something and I’ll move my hand and they’ll say thats great so that generally says it all. I pacify the crowds. I find that when they move the band gets off and the shows working. I’m like you give me analog over Digital any day less time and easyer access. Give me amp racks above powered cabs any day to. I enjoy seeing the rack at an idle during a show I get shot down by a few and praised by others. It goes both ways. I had a guy (guitarest/ singer) come up to me once trying to tell me what unity gain once from an app on an I pad and told me that he learned how to mix from his app’s I told him to take over. He looked at the board and gave up. I met anouther that really went to Full Sail and didnt know the diference between a 58 or a 57 and had to get the mics myself. So much for his papers. You get all kinds out here. It suprises me that I still do it after 15 years. I look at it this way anymore, Its the crowds and the power and control. For me and the rest of the techs the bands are just the puppets and we’re pulling the strings.

    • miki

      Ugh, the “unity gain” guys!! A couple associate/coworker/friends of mine (I’ll call them Mike and Mike) and I have a decades old battle (all in fun) on this subject. I like to leave consoles they will be using after me with a console tape “ruler” (complete with hashmarks at the inches) aligning the faders at unity. (or I will take photos of touring engineers fader settings and send them to the Mikes) One of my favorite quotes from decades ago…..”The unity gain theory is usually exercised by the guys that have just enough knowledge to be dangerous”. Me, I can if necessary, mix a typical 5-6 piece rock/pop band on a 40 channel desk WITHOUT console tape, just by looking at the fader level of the inputs, (also keeps uninvited “assistants” from assisting with a mix!)

  94. Tim Boykin

    The one problem with this list, is it’s based on the assumption that all / any sound engineers know their shit and can give you a great mix. I have empirical data which supports the case that this assumption is false. Good sound engineers are good, bad ones are bad. Merely being a live sound engineer does not entitle one to awe and respect, anymore than being a guitarist or cab driver does. If you’re a working musician, sooner or later, you’re gonna have to work with a brain-damaged sound engineer, and no amount of ass-kissing is gonna make that person capable of doing a good job.

  95. Sascha

    A mixing desk is not a waste water plant, if shit comes in shit goes out, only louder!

  96. Art

    Been mixing FOH in big venues for thirty years. Every configuration you can imagine. Get good feedback from everyone I work with. Mutual respect always gets me and the performers and me through the tough times.

  97. Danne

    Well, don’t expect a sound guy who mostly listens to country or funk,
    to make something good with an indie band…. what he/she mostly
    listens to is normally what he/she can mix in a good way. I hear terrible
    examples of the “wrong sound guy and artist combination” every week.
    Combined talent and music chart channel, supports talents and young artists
    from all over the world (composing, sound, general strategies etc)

  98. Justin

    Very revealing omissions in your list of colleagues on your team that you should treat with respect is the lighting engineer, stage manager and stage hands.

    These are integral parts of a show and leaving them out, in and of itself, is very disrespectful. It calls into question if you’ve actually learned these lessons yourself or simply reading off a list a researcher prepared for you, that was given crap information at the get go. No experienced musician, that doesn’t suck, would forget these folks.

    • Ari Herstand

      Or musicians who don’t play arenas. Most clubs don’t have stage managers, stage hands or separate lighting engineers.

      Have I learned these lessons on my own? Yes. From 550+ shows. That’s over 500 different sound engineers.

      • Justin

        Even many small venues (<50 seats) have stage and house managers in addition to a lighting person. Even at many elementary and middle schools.

        Why you don't know this, or didn't bother to mention such crucial roles, yet instead use a barrista as an example—and now your palid argument for not observing them—is far more revealing than you realize. And laughable, to be generous.

        • Mixerperson

          “Even many small venues (<50 seats) have stage and house managers in addition to a lighting person. Even at many elementary and middle schools."

          Where do you live, Justin? One of my "house gigs" is a 2000 capacity ballroom. You'll get stagehands if you sell enough tickets and your agent is very insistent. Stage manager? That's the promoter's rep, who works out show schedule with the headliner's TM. There is no house SM. I do 90 shows a year in that room.

          I've done some bar gigs that *did* have an SM, but typically he was the guy that arrived about 20 minutes before doors, beer in hand and then asked me "what's up?"

          At any rate, I don't think Ari meant to slight the other Noble Warriors of Entertainment. He was specifically speaking audio. Feel free to write your own blog for the LDs and SMs of clubland.

          • Justin

            So, unfortunately, you like working at sub-sub-standard venues. Though I suppose you expected someone to be impressed with your provincial viewpoint. Equally revealing.

            The point of this blog post was to encourage best practices for the industry as a whole, rather than just your little scrap of nowhere. It’s clear that neither you nor Ari are qualified do so.

            All I’ve done is attempt to provide some adjunct information pointing out a broader perspective and you jump in to put yourself out as an apologist for mediocre advice. Good luck with that.

          • Fem Sound ENG

            Justin, there is not a “golden ratio” for crew needed to make a venue standard or sub sub standard as you put it. In many reputable smaller venues the house engineer does monitors from FOH and wears the hat of SM and LD. I mainly work at two venues when I’m not touring. One is a music hall with all the bells and whistles and the other is a small showcase venue and I do it all. I will occasionally hire a LD and the talent buyer is lighting savvy so he’ll jump in as well. Both venues are highly professional and our rosters and reputation reflect that. But, I think from your elitist and condescending replies it would be safe to assume that you are a LD and you probably work in a theater with thespians and not musicians.

          • Justin

            Actually, no. I’m not an elitist or I would also be listing off venues, seating capacities and number of concerts, the musical version of dick measuring instead of spouting off college degrees. like these two guys. I’ll cop to condescending because of I have very little patience for this type of b.s..

            Thing is, the codescencion didn’t begin until Ari’s snotty, condescending reply of excuses and then with the apologist. B.s. is b.s., I call it by name and you don’t have to like it.

            That said, you’ve also seem to overlook the obvious and take a condescending tone, instead of attempting to understand. I simply pointed out an obvious ommission of the article because it’s intention is to advise for the broader industry, not localized to joe schmoes experience. It’s of no consequence to Ari if he’d just replied, ‘yeah, a SM or LD would be higher on the list than a barrista or door staff. I just overlooked it, thanks for pointing it out.’ Instead we got a reply from his delicate ego. That’s what I’m objecting too. And both are legitimate cricisms.

            So instead of dispensing with the criticism with a reasonable, rational reply his ego has created a shitstorm. In yet another indication that his advice is narrow-minded.

          • Fem Sound ENG

            I can’t disagree that much of the advice in the article and laden throughout the replies can be short-sided at best, but I think the overall impression was that it was written from a bar/club viewpoint, not a major market venue viewpoint. I could be mistaken and I apologize if I am. You are correct that many venues have a crew who are integral to the entirety of the show from start to finish. Also, as a touring engineer, I have a crew on the road with me even if we are wearing more than one hat, lol. Sorry for being condescending, but I just didn’t think it fair to generalize what a “standard” venue should consist of. I still stand by my sentiment that venues come in all shapes and sizes and if done properly can turn out some quality entertainment.

          • music director

            Justin sez: “Thing is, the codescencion didn’t begin until Ari’s snotty, condescending reply….”

            Oh, really? What do you call this? —> “leaving them out….calls into question if you’ve actually learned these lessons yourself or simply reading off a list a researcher prepared for you….No experienced musician, that doesn’t suck, would forget these folks.”

            If you understand the meaning of the word condescension, you’d realize that suggesting he copped his writing off a list, and he must not be an experienced musician who doesn’t suck, is the very essence of such. Then you just continue insulting everyone, up on your effing high horse….oh, so professional you are.

            Frankly, you come off like a dick in every post you make, so any good points you might possibly have here are lost on the rest of us. And you’re totally, absolutely wrong in your “assessment” of what makes a “real” venue, so I’d question your veracity pretty much anytime. The rest of us working in the music industry don’t need or want any “help” from the likes of you.

        • Midwest Sound Chick

          Wow! You are extremely lucky to live where you do. I would never move. In my area, unless you are a big name act playing for thousands, you are lucky to get a sound person. At the venue where I work the most, I am FOH. I am also the stage manager, light tec, and sometimes the clean up crew. Many times the only pay I get is the tips from the band and heartfelt thank yous. While do I volunteer 12 hours of busting my a$$ for nothing? I love music and am passionate about it. I am proud to say that I am helping build an amazing place for live bands to play. Do not assume because our small venue has me and two others that do 90% of everything that we are not a quality venue.

  99. Officer Farva

    I agree with most of this in general, most Technicians or designers can defiantly make or break your show. Generally all talent need to do is not be as ass.

    There have been some great new I monitor mix apps and things that have come out in recent year’s. I’ve never used the Pivitec system mentioned in an earlier post. Seem pretty similar to the Aviom system i used frequently with my M7.

    There is also some cool stuff coming from Presonus in the Studiolive AI boards to be able to allow people access to their own monitor mix thru iphone or ipad. Some surprisingly from Behringer as well on the x32 which are both pretty cheap as far a digital boards go. Especially if a band has one to “Help” run their monitor mixes, or for small to medium sized venues.

    These tool’s aren’t worth anything if you don’t know how to use them right, which is why you alway need a good Sound designer / Mixer.

  100. Matty

    Gee How often do people actually “Need” a sound guy these days unless your dealing with a pretty big venue.? They’re usually deaf and anal about the doing things their way..why don’t Artists do a proper sound checks before? If you know what your doing on stage then you shouldn’t have problems with levels and need to depend on a stranger leveling the show…..

    • Fem Sound ENG

      Hmm. I bet you don’t “need” a sound engineer at your coffee shop gig until something goes wrong and you have to troubleshoot.

    • Bliss America

      So which band member gets to sit out in the house and play their instrument at the console?

      Or do ya think you can do a house mix from BEHIND the systems speakers?

    • Midwest Sound Chick

      Wow. That has got to be the most ignorant thing I have read tonight. If you are playing an entirely acoustical set – no mics no nothing just you and a guitar- you are right you do not need a sound person. If you are jamming in your basement, you don’t need a sound person. Any time you start running any kind of sound through speakers for an audience, you need some one running sound to keep things adjusted correctly. Doubt me? At your next gig, tell the sound person to set it and forget it. See how much the audience enjoys that show.

    • A sound Guy

      I’m gonna just go ahead and say it. You’re an absolute fucking idiot. You know no knowledge of how things should sound, and I’m guessing you spend lots of time sticking your head in front of a speaker and yelling ‘ it sounds good ! “…..fucking moron

  101. Josh Danby

    I’ll add to this – don’t put your pint on the speakers (or anywhere onstage where people are moving or electrical stuff is for that matter). Speakers vibrate, funnily enough. Not only does it make the sound guy’s job harder when you leave the stage and most of his cables covered in sticky beer, but I’ve seen a guy wipe out his entire pedal board by being dumb enough to put his pint on top of a subwoofer next to his rig.

    Vocalists – don’t chuck the mic everywhere unless you actually own it, and don’t cup the mic or point it directly at the monitor then complain about the feedback.

    Guitarists – sometimes you have to turn it down, sometimes you have to adjust your EQ. If a sound guy asks you to do this normally it means “your sound” sucks and there’s only so much you can do on the average mixing desk to compensate for that. Learning to properly EQ your guitar amp for your genre is a skill that will serve you amazingly well, especially with heavy genres like metal.

    Secondly, if you’re in a support band and you’re playing a smaller venue with a tight time scale, for god’s sake try not to bring your own drum kit unless you’re intending on using it as the house kit for the night – drum kits take ages to set up, and just as long to mic up and no one likes a drummer being precious about it (“breakables” are fine of course). This isn’t the sound guy’s fault – normally the stupid promoter books 2 more bands than is reasonable to fit on the bill and gives the sound guy 10 minute changeovers which includes a line check before a band goes on – since organising musicians is normally akin to herding cats anyway changing the whole kit around is a major ballache for everyone involved and if you just turn up with this demand you may be pissing the other bands off too. If you absolutely have to do this, contact the promoter AND sound guy well in advance of the gig so they know what’s coming.

    That said, as a live sound engineer who also tours with his own band, I’ve encountered some absolute numpties behind the desk as well, and it’s important as a sound engineer to listen to the band’s needs. I always introduce myself to the band and ask them what they want from me, if your sound guy doesn’t talk to you, or if you say “our keyboards are a bit boomy so could you cut somewhere around 250hz please?” and he gives you the “don’t tell me how to do my job” look – he’s probably crap at his job. You should never be outright rude but don’t be afraid to be assertive with your band’s needs.

  102. T Cudney

    I like working with older sound guys,,, unfortunately lately I have had the unfortunate opportunity to work with a couple of guys “out of school” that don’t seem to have an ear, they just peak everything at the beginning then sit there, it’s only my opinion but the older guys seem to bring up the lead when they are on a solo break, or can distinguish which mike might need a volume tweek during the show, or when (no jokes or digs at) a drummer getting into things and volume coming up. I’m sure there are still some younger guys with an ear but I’ve just run into some bad ones as well as good ones lately

  103. I.F. (30+ years Mixin' 'n Fixin')

    Love the article…. 🙂

    One..(OK maybe two) little gripes. I don’t mind artists giving me a stage diagram to help me place equipment, but I’d be a little ticked at a band telling me what channels to use for the mics. I have my board set up the way “I” like to have my inputs. If someone told what channel they wanted something on, it would throw me for a total loop. I would be (possibly) cranking the snare thinking that it’s the lead guitar, (or such, you know what I mean…LOL) because I am so used to just reaching for what needs to change (yeah, even if I DID get out the sharpie and lay a new strip of good ole’ masking tape!) 🙂

    Two…. WTH’s with the Math Question?? I’m a sound guy (and yes a musician) but that means I can only count to 4 (OK 5 – if I’m playing Money by PInk Floyd!!) LOL 🙂

    • Jerry Rogars

      I agree with you that it has been great article. I also love to read and I felt that all these things are excellent and a musician must remember these all fantastic things.

  104. Midwest Sound Chick

    One glaring omission that all musicians need to know was missed. Cold weather is hard on equipment. Cold instruments do not sound good. If you are traveling anywhere that gets close to freezing or in the case of where I live -30 before the wind chill, you need to allow extra time to open up your cases and get them warmed back up. This is doubly important if you are pulling a trailer or loading into the bottom of a bus. I had one “musician” ignore my warning to give his setup a few minutes to warm up before blasting away on his guitar. This advice was given directly have he was bragging about the $1000s he had just spent on his guitar, pedal board and stack. Took him two minutes to fry his stack. I couldn’t help it. I laughed at him and said I told you. Funny, he is not with that band anymore. The opposite is also true. If you are playing in an extremely hot area, bring your equipment in and cool down a bit. If for no other reason then all the decorative metal trim will burn you if you are not careful.

  105. Midwest Sound Chick

    Oh and one more thing – many of you need to get over yourselves. You are not in middle school anymore! It does not matter if they refer to a sound guy and you are female. The only time it matters what you call yourself is if it is required by law for public safety. Other than possible hearing loss, there is not much I can do to harm the audience if I call myself a sound technician or Mistress of Sound. It doesn’t matter unless I am looking at your resume. For some venues or some working situations, a title/degree matters. Most of the time, though it makes you simple like an arrogant ass. Especially in a forum like this where anyone can say they are anything they please.

  106. Byg Nyge

    As a band member, I think that a good sound engineer is worth their weight in gold. I have (by default) become the sound guy in our band and have to mix from the stage. It ain’t easy, I run wireless so I can go front of house and check for the sound check but after that its ‘plug and play’! If (with any luck) we can set up and sound check in an empty room this is ok, but as soon as the room fills up the acoustic dynamics change and I believe you lose a lot of top end And I feel a bit of a dick running through the audience playing to check if I’d compensated enough! Gimme a sound engineer please!

  107. Chrissy P

    Call your sound guy before you get to the club and ask if he wants you to grab him a coffee.

  108. guest soundman

    or recommend a line6 automatic mixing system,
    so everyone may safe the sound engineers!
    is this the future? self driving cars and self mixing sound systems?

  109. McDonalds Audio

    You can call me he , she or Sally, but realize that your fate is in my hand. In my 30 years in the entertainment
    business I have seen lesser talent boosted up by their attitude. Everyone is happy to see them and wants them to succeed. When an extra player was needed, their name would come up. Not neccessarily the best, but someone that was a pleasure to work with.

    At the same time more than one banana peel has been dropped in the path of “greats” with a crappy demeanor .
    30 years later I am have prospered greatly and many of them are long gone. Be nice.

  110. bitter north

    Ugh, barf.
    “1 thing musicians need to know about the sound tech” is that the position may also be filled by a WOMAN. This article seems to have forgotten that. Don’t try to order and beer from me and then ask me where the sound guy is.


  111. Joakim Øster

    Heard Noel Galagher on a festival last year, love his album, looked very much forward, showed up 40 min before show to be close to stage. Great band, but sound guy screwed everything up, bass drum was about as loud as everything else combined, impossible to hear vocals, ruined the concert for 20.000 people:-(
    Thought the sound gear was crap, then Snow patrol played next, and the sound was so amazing, like hearing a cd in 3D, all details was taken care of from song to song, short delays, big reverbs, whatever it took to make the song, a good example of a sound guy that don’t just amplify the sound, nor just makes everything sound great, but a guy who takes it to the next level and adds to the music, becoming part of the bands sound.
    So, my advice to all you musicians out there; find a sound guy thats as enthusiastic about your music as you are, and spend the money it takes to bring him to all your shows, its worth it!
    Joakim, Denmark

  112. sindawg

    Something to add to the “Don’t Start Playing Until He’s Ready” is:

    “Don’t stop playing until the sound person tells you to stop. While the sound person may have dialed in the monitor mix for you nicely, chances are they are still tweaking things so KEEP PLAYING until they tell you to stop. Also, if you ask for a little more in the monitors… keep playing to actually see if what they give you IS enough. How will you know if you just stop playing?” Sound engineering isn’t just plugging in and flipping a switch. There are a lot of tweaks that must be done to make you sound good so give the sound guy the time to make YOU sound good.”

  113. Anonymous

    Very helpful Jim. Thanks! The only thing that was left out was don’t get them wet or feed them after midnight.

  114. Emma

    Uhhhhhh, sound ‘guys’ are sometimes women, there are not just men in the industry.

  115. ashenk

    I ask most sound guys/girls “Hey can I get you a drink?” It’s worth getting on their good side early on. That way when you have to ask for something in the mix, you have a better chance of getting it!

  116. Anonymous

    It is just as frustrating being a good sound man that is abused by one of those shitty bands. I don’t care if it’s a garage band or Led Zeppelin, if they are playing at a show I’m mixing, it’s my reputation on the line, and that’s all any of us really have.

    The show must go on, with everyone, and I mean everyone doing the best possible job they can. No matter how gifted one thinks one is, there is only one reason for playing live, and that is to Entertain the audience. They are the one’s paying for your services, on stage or doing production. Both are thoroughly integrated into “The Show.”

  117. David Borgo

    The Sound engineer is as important if not MORE important than any member in the band. A good Sound guy can make a fair band sound very good. In todays live music scene a lot of bands run sound from the stage. I play in a 3 piece band and the only things mic’d is the vocals and the kick drum. I play guitar and use 3 to five amps. I use 2 Fender Cyber Twins, Peavey 5150, Marshall JCM 2000 TSL. Also use a couple Roland Gr series guitar synths. We work every week and I have been gigging since 1977. Things have changed from the 1980s “Big show” To keep working a band needs to be fun.

  118. Jason Gates

    As a sound engineer, musician, production manager and former club owner, this was a great quick little read that I will repost in order to influence my local scene…..which I often do. Can I make one suggestion wearing my engineer hat? When submitting that stage plot and input list (which, if it could all be on one sheet of paper is awesome….there are a lot of bands per show….if they all did it that’s a bunch of dead trees!) INCLUDE EACH MUSICIANS NAME AT THEIR POSITION ON THE PLOT…… We like to be respectful too, so it keeps us from having to say “Hey drummer” or “Yo, bass player”…… I encourage this. Artist only have to learn 3-5 production crews names per night, we have to (used loosely) learn 20-30 musicians (again, used loosely) per show. Thanks…….SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SCENE!!!!!!

  119. Mike

    Every sound person on the planet thanks you for writing this article!

  120. Steve G

    “Get His Name” – That’s Nate Buker in the article’s photo.

  121. Chuck Kirkpatrick

    “older failed musicians”…..oh boy, I have seen my share. But the biggest problem with today’s sound mixers is is that they are more interested in putting on a show themselves than making the band sound correct. 90% of the mixers I’ve seen are twiddling knobs continuously just to draw attention to themselves. Even worse are the ones who make sport of cranking the system and subs to the point of making the audience bleed internally. I think 75% of the sound mixers out there are ex-drummers, because that is all I ever hear at most shows. The mis-use of graphic equalizers is the #1 most prevelant mistake. One of the best systems I ever heard had NO graphics whatsoever. The phase shift and distortion induced by these crap-boxes is horrific. A decent two or three band parametric will solve almost any problem. And compression? Good God Almighty….I’ve heard more shows ruined by the use of these things. Compressors belong in the studio, NOT in a PA system. GENTLE peak limiting across the main outs to protect the speakers only!

    • miki

      Geez, I don’t know how I ended up back at this article!! For a chuckle mostly, but then I read something that screams out for a reaction.
      “0% of the mixers Iv’e seen are twiddling knobs continuously just to draw attention to themselves.”
      Yes, exactly! I want to draw attention to myself more than I want to do my damn job! If it were up to me I’d own an invisible cloak so I could do my damn job without interruption or distraction. I twiddle knobs continuously because the sound is “LIVE”. its not like turning up the volume of your damn home stereo and kicking back. At a LIVE show the room changes continuously and the sound must be adjusted to compensate. Why? because of the audience. the humidity/wind the venue, the movement of the audience, the ambient noise caused by the audience (talking when they should be listening), the band’s dynamics change especially when they are comfortable and the audience is responding positively. SO, if you want an engineer to “set it and forget it” just don’t blame them when the PA isn’t turned up to compensate for the noise in the room and those quiet passages or ballads turn into a lip sync show, or when the guitar solo obliterates everything in the room including the audience’s ears because the player turns his/her amp from 3 to 11 (yeah. like any guitar player keeps it down to 3!!) and doesn’t know that the peddle he just hit caused the tone to change to a SCREAMING EAR BLEEDING HI-MID ASSAULT. “Free Ear Piercing Provided Here, Pay at Sound Booth”
      I do agree with much of the rest of what you said. I use a “Less is more” approach compression, with one on the main system and subs just for protection (usually doing nothing) and a dozen for inserts (to meet band rider requirements) of which I personally use only when the need arises. I’d prefer parametric EQ but as FOH engineer for a sound company working in a different venue with different engineers every day I have to provide something that is user friendly to a larger group. I do run a parametric EQ on the sub aux (that is auxiliary fed subwoofers).and front fills aux and rarely has a band engineer adjusted that.

  122. MelvinDale

    Don’t play too many gigs with sound guys, but the first thing I do is get their name the second – hand them 20.00. They provide a service, they should be tipped.

  123. Anonymous

    TOTALLY kiss his ass!!! He can make you a star or make you a fool!!!

  124. Sean Mitchell

    Hmmm .. so I have done all this in the past and more (ie soundman is treated like a band member) and all he could fucking do was read a book sitting at the deck. Maybe the tech should consider the fact that his/her job fails to exist if there is no artist to “sound reinforce”. The alternative is called “being a DJ” and you can’t read a book while doing that and expect to get paid fairly now can you?

  125. Simon

    A great post again.

    We are trying to help bands understand how to communicate to sound engineers and venues by creating acommunity at Gigsounds.coom.

    Currently in development but will be launching very soon. All ideas and input is very welcome!

    Our goal is to improve live music, especially at the local level for everyone.

  126. ShieldsCW

    Funny part is, if you have never mentioned the male/female thing, and simply said “he (or she)” the first time and “he” thereafter (or mixed “he” and “she” throughout the article), you wouldn’t be getting shit from female readers.

  127. Aoshi

    Dead on Article, As a”sound guy” at a local bar all these things are true, If you don’t respect me, though I’d add as a suggestion to help the sound guy get a really great mix, If you have a cd Pressed, bring one along and give it to the sound guy with a note of which will be the first track in your set. A sound guys pride is in his ears, hearing the sound you’re going for gives us a roadmap of how to mix the house system we’re all too familiar with to make your set sound like YOU want it to sound.
    There are many performers that show up and either offer no input, or offer input we practically disregard because it doesn’t make sense, and that’s fine, if people are paying to see you, you’ve got great skill at creating music. MY job is to deliver that music to the crowd.

    Another problem i often encounter with newer musicians, Is that they ALWAYS seem to play much louder at showtime than in sound check. Especially Drummers and lead guitarists. Most likely the adrenaline of performing and getting amped for the crowd combined with a little stage-deafness after a few songs, makes you want to hit that 16″ crash with all your might, and that’s fine, that means you’re putting on a good show.
    BUUUT! if you baby your cymbals during sound check, and that cymbal isn’t used until that ONE pivotal transition in the bridge, and you’re amped from performing and go Thor on that crash, that i haven’t touched since sound check, the audience is about to get a demonstration of exactly how much Headroom the house system has, or worse, if the venue isn’t ideally set up, and the mic you just peaked has its gain too hot in the stage-side rack, I have to either run up there and adjust it, or practically write off that cymbal in the mix, which are both very unfavorable for both of us.

    Alot changes between sound check and showtime acousticallyas well, between noise from the bar and the noise of 100 or so people in the space that was empty during sound check. So if you Give me your Cd with your first track highlighted, At showtime I can focus on making the necessary fine tweaking right at the start, using that roadmap you kindly provided.

  128. Michael

    Ari forgot a pretty important tip, which is to tip!! While he acknowledges that the sound engineer (see not so difficult to make it gender neutral) is a member of the staff, like the bartender, Ari failed to mention tipping. My secret handshake for any gig I play is bring a $10 or $20 bill with me and when I finish my first meet up with the sound engineer, to explain our sound needs, I always add “Hey, in case we both get busy later and I don’t have time to have a drink with you, let me tip you now!” and I hand the $20 bill over. You’ve never seen a more attentive or appreciative sound engineer than the one you value with money as well as manners. The looks on their faces are priceless sometimes. I also tip my bartender a $20 in the beginning of the night as well and never have to wait for a drink. Just some extra tips for all you young working musicians who might not have heard that one.

    • Soundguy

      I am a soundguy in very poor country, still 20$ you can shove it in your ass. No money for a THE SOUNDGUY maybe for a sounguy.

  129. joyce cattanach

    The sound “Guy”
    is often, nowadays, a sound “GAL …….
    Come and live with the rest of us in the 21st Century.

  130. Marc Saunders

    I really enjoyed this article. The points you made went straight to it, starting with showing the sound man the respect you should show any human being. I work as an engineer at night and a mailman by day, so this subject is right up my alley. I recently started a website featuring a blog that goes over tips and advice such as this along with gear recommendations. When you have the chance, please check out some of the material that I am posting and leave a comment or advice on what I could do better. Thanks for the read!

  131. Scott

    This is a very interesting article. I like that you listed “get his name” as the first thing to do before recording a song. I imagine that this would help for overall communication. It seems like it would be a good idea to spend some time with the person who is going to record your song and know what he likes. That way, when you hear something you’re not used to, you won’t be caught off guard.

  132. GigGear

    Great post! At we do appreciate great guides and we appreciate when “knowing your gear” is part of the main tips. You should also consider adding a tip about the safety of the equipment before coming to set.

  133. Brendan Shelton

    I appreciate you talking about printing out a list of all your audio needs and being prepared for the audio guy. My son wants to become an audio technician in a few years and I am trying to help him learn everything he can about the field before he enters it. We will certainly use this information as we both learn more about what he needs to do to become successful.

  134. Steven W.

    The suggestion that Most audio engineers are older guys who failed as musicians is insulting in itself. You talking about how to get along and then making a statement like that in your post is a bit contradictory. I, as an older guy and a working musician and FOH engineer, realize that the most important guy in the room is the audio engineer. He is the one that knows how to make your kick drum fat and punchy and your bass guitar smooth and clean. He knows how to process your instruments in a way that not only hides a lot imperfections but also enhances the great things you do on stage..He is the one that everyone in the house relies on to make YOU look and sound good. He can take a mediocre band and make them better or he can take a great band and make them suck.

  135. Faylinn

    Thank you so much for mentioning that a musician should not start playing until the sound system person has set up the mics and tells you that it is time for a soundcheck. My best friend is a musician and he told me that he is looking for a pa system hire for one of the shows that he has coming up in a few months. I told him that I could help him look for information about services in this area if he gives me free tickets to the show, and he agreed, so now I am doing some research so I can keep my end of the deal.