Having Issues With Live Sound Techs

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by boltrecords, Apr 20, 2016.

  1. boltrecords

    boltrecords Member

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    I'm just about fed up with dealing with inadequate sound techs at small bars and venues. Not only has the sound been extremely crappy on majority of occasions, but the attitude of most of them is just ridiculous. This past Saturday We played a gig at a local bar that we've played multiple times in the past and in the past the sound was ok. This time there was a new sound guy. He was pissed off from the first minute we walked in. He had his gear and cable bins all laying across the back of this TINY stage. I politely asked " can I please move this bin over to the side so I can place my amp on the backline" He grunted and walked away saying "do whatever you want...its only MY stage". Unbelievable.

    The entire night we played people in the crowd were complaining they couldn't hear keys, vocals, guitars etc. All night long was the exact same problem. I went out into the crowd while were playing and literally the sound was by far the worst mix ive ever heard. THis guy was either deaf or intentionally making us sound like garbage. There's no way someone can produce that poor of a mix. No guitars were in the mix at all, stage volume was very low so that wasn't the issue. He never even attempted to bump up a solo. Very embarrassing for us to have to explain to our fans and new people hearing us for the first time. People literally saw my mouth moving and no sound coming through speakers.

    Ive been convinced for years now that we need our own sound tech at venues, but its a lot easier said than done. Most placed are very weird about another tech using their gear. We even have our own board for in ears that we can tap into their FOH and run from our own board. Some places, especially summer fests constantly give us a hard time.

    Do I have to offer these guys a huge tip before the show and bribe them into caring a little.

    I know this has been discussed many times over but if anyone has any advice I'm all ears.
     
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  2. 335guy

    335guy Member

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    I do think having your own sound person mixing for you is probably the best way to go. He/she would know your music and how you want to sound live. As for venues allowing a band's sound person to mix instead of the house guy, probably the best way to handle that is to discuss it way in advance of the gig. Explain in a diplomatic way to the venue owner/manager that you have your own sound person to mix for you, and that you would like to be allowed to use your sound person. The house tech can still "oversee" your person so ensure the equipment isn't abused or radically altered. But I have to assume not every gig or venue will go along with this.

    In that case, and in my experience, some house sound crews are "difficult". But try to win them over by being polite, cooperating with their requests, and acknowledging that it's their gig and responsibility. In my experience, a little kindness and cooperation can go a long way in getting the sound crew on your side.
     
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  3. loudboy

    loudboy Member

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    I've been on both sides of this, for 4+ decades.

    The house guy in small clubs is generally pretty jaded and disgruntled. It's the bottom of the food chain and a lot of work, for very little $.

    OTOH, he's got to put up w/generally terrible bands with a lot of attitude, so it does tend to be a vicious cycle.

    In your case, asking to tap into the house system for IEMs, especially if you have your own console is a major PITA, more so in a multi-band setting, like a festival. It's very disruptive.

    But, a sound guy should be able to get a decent mix. It is the main part of the job.
     
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  4. boltrecords

    boltrecords Member

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    I realize its a PITA for them which is why I haven't really gone that route over the last year. I pretty much gave up on using our own sound tech because of that reason. But even if it is a pain for them, after that is done there really isn't much else for them to do on their end. So I don't see why it would be such a big deal. All we really did in the past was run our Main outs to two of their channel inputs and run the FOH from our board to their board. It worked great. We can run our in ears and FOH all from our board that way.

    Our band is always very polite and appreciative. We never walk into a place with an ego. Very frustrating to have this type of response a majority of the time. I do understand that they most likely have PITA bands to deal with a lot of the time.
     
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  5. DunedinDragon

    DunedinDragon Member

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    Although I play in a band full-time and with our own sound man and equipment, I do occassionally run sound at large events and festivals on occasion with local bands. So I want to inject some perspective here from the soundman's perspective.

    In all cases I schedule time ahead of the event start time with each band in order to do gain-staging and sound checks. More often than not I don't get the full band there which is virtually useless to me. They tend to want to show up 15 minutes ahead of when they go on so I do the best I can, but it's what I call guerilla mixing at showtime when that happens. Maybe by halfway through their second song I'll have their levels set decently. Apparently it's not all that important that they have good sound or else showing up for sound checks would be a priority.

    When they do show up for sound checks they expect to walk in and start playing rather than go through the process of gain staging and EQ'ing each instrument and vocal, and typically they don't even have the respect or discipline to stop doodling with their instrument while I'm working on someone else's levels. And the best I can generally get from vocalist is them talking into the mic rather than singing at normal levels. In short, gain staging and sound checks for most bands is like herding cats.

    And don't even get me started on stage mix and volume discipline. Although there are exceptions, a good portion of these band members are only interested in hearing themselves and could care less about blending with the other instruments to create a good stage mix, and the fact is if they can't blend their own sound on the stage appropriately how do they expect to miraculously sound professional and polished through the PA? And if I should dare walk up and ask someone to bring down the level on their amp because it's smothering the other instruments, it's like telling them I'm going to kill their mother.

    I realize that in most clubs you aren't going to work with sound people that are likely well trained, but on the other hand I don't typically come across a whole lot of local bands that have the discipline or knowledge about how to work effectively with decently trained sound personnel and equipment, so there's more than enough blame to go around.
     
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  6. lp_bruce

    lp_bruce Member

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    There are some really great sound techs around here. I wouldn't say they are the norm, but I've only run into a handful of techs who really don't know what they are doing.

    Peace,
     
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  7. sleewell

    sleewell Member

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    the sound guys at both the loft and macs are very good in our area.
     
  8. boltrecords

    boltrecords Member

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    You Sir are my Ideal sound tech. I always show up 2-3 hrs before showtime and set up with plenty of time to spare and sound check. since we run all in ears, our stage volume is extremely low. Loud amps are not needed. maybe just a little to help hit the front of the stage where the crowd may be in front of the FOH speakers. All of our instruments run direct, including the guitars. Fractal axe fx on one side and my CAA amp runs to a palmer DIrect box. We take sound check very seriously ever gig. when the sound tech checks my mic, I usually will play a little clean guitar and sing a song to make sure I'm not just talking...check 1 2 into the mic which I find useless.

    I wish all sound techs weve been encountering would be as detailed as yourself. rarely do we have a sound tech that is even willing to allow us to play a full song for sound check.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2016
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  9. MrHarryReems

    MrHarryReems Member

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    We do the same. Sound check is a big deal to us. We run entirely DI, and being old guys, we loathe loud stage volumes. We played a festival a week ago where they didn't allow time in the schedule for ANYONE to sound check. The sound engineers were amazing, and they had us sounding great by the second song. We gave them mad props from the stage, and they REALLY hooked us up on day 2. We were the first act on day two, so we got an extensive sound check by getting there early. They even asked to announce us, and made us sound like superstars. Nobody else got a sound check due to the schedule.
     
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  10. Chrome Dinette

    Chrome Dinette Member

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    What do you think these people are being paid? Why would anyone good at doing this job want to do it for that price?
     
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  11. Chrome Dinette

    Chrome Dinette Member

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    this
     
  12. boltrecords

    boltrecords Member

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    well Saturday he got paid $250, I made $140. either way it shouldn't matter. If you don't want to do the job you're being paid for then don't do the job. Does it make sense for a band to play like absolute crap intentionally just because the bar isn't paying them enough? I play gigs and fundraisers for free all the time and I still put everything I have into a performance no matter what I'm getting paid. I guess youre right though, someone great at live mixing would probably want a lot more than $250
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2016
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  13. Stratobuc

    Stratobuc Member

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    Do "musicians" who don't play too loud on stage, and take constructive direction actually exist?

    What kind of question is that?

    I'm both a guitarist, and an audio engineer. The hardest thing to find is people who listen.
     
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  14. Chrome Dinette

    Chrome Dinette Member

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    Actually, $250 is good money. They should be able to find someone who can do the job at that price.


    The point is that places that pay a low rate, and I confess I thought you were talking $75-100 a show, aren't always going to attract competent folks.
     
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  15. Flyin' Brian

    Flyin' Brian Member

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    This applies to so many areas of the music world.

    And the really good sound guys who can leave home get hired by bands and don't hang around in clubs. They also have to have a lot of gear knowledge when they're working with gear like this......(and it's the monitor board not FOH, obviously)

    [​IMG]
     
  16. boltrecords

    boltrecords Member

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    I totally agree. I guess this is really a pointless thread and ill just have to learn to deal with the fact that were not playing on stages with crews like the doobie brothers. lol
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2016
  17. Chrome Dinette

    Chrome Dinette Member

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    I have been on both sides of this. I have also witnessed both bands and sound techs hell bent on sabotage whether they realize it or not.

    I have seen bands that think a sound tech is a cross between a butler and a magician.

    I have encounters techs who think every band is inept.


    The reality is often closer to the middle and can often be improved by better communication and de-escalation of the pissing contest aspect.
     
  18. boltrecords

    boltrecords Member

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    The problem I'm having is that we didn't say anything about the sound at all. I didn't even know there was a problem until we were getting complaints from people In the crowd. finally towards the end of the night I went out and listened during a song and noticed how bad it was. We cant here a difference while were on stage since our in ears always sound the way we expect. but its very frustrating when you have people in the audience mouthing to you during the middle of a song that they cant hear you at all.
     
  19. boltrecords

    boltrecords Member

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    I changed the title of the thread. That was a bad title. didn't mean to offend all the great sound techs on the forum.
     
  20. Stefenator

    Stefenator Member

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    just curious about what city/state these venues are located in?
     

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