Monday, October 26, 2015

My Most Recent Sound Gig Worked


Okay, here is a picture of Sarnia, ON. band called "Marinol Nation" playing live at Trinity Lounge and Temple Bar. I was at the helm mixing the show in this really unique venue. What you are looking at is the remnants an old strip club that used to be called Cheri Champagne's. Notice all the mirrors on the full wall behind the band. Acoustically, this makes for some challenges mixing loud music in the space.

My mix location was behind the stage left speaker shown on the right side of the picture. I had to walk out to the front of stage to listen to my mix and then back to make adjustments. The sound system consisted of a Yamaha EMX5016 powered mixer, 2 - Yamaha S215 Dual 15" speakers, and 2 - Community 12" speakers used as stage monitor. The main speakers were connected to power amp outs of the EMX5016 mixer. The stage monitors were connected to a Yamaha EMX212 powered box mixer being used as a power amp. It was a creative setup but, it worked.

For mix inputs, there were just 4 - vocal microphones and 1 - kick drum mic. The rest of the instruments were not miked. There was only one monitor mix sent from the main mixer to the box mixer. The main speakers were run full-range since they cannot be bi-amped. A subwoofer was not used.

The stage size is approximately: 20ft W x 7ft D x 3ft high with a low ceiling. The stage is very hollow inside and some frequencies resonated a little more than others. Used a little bit of EQ on the mixer to adjust it. The kick drum mic used was a Shure Beta 52 and its input level was way too hot until I selected the -26db Pad button for that particular mic input. Solved the problem.

AC outlets were at a premium and I think every one was used on the stage area for the show. Luckily, there were no ground hum issues with the setup. Considering the condition of some of the old light fixtures and electrical wiring, no breakers tripped during the show. I noticed some old fluorescent light fixtures in the ceiling above the stage that all have exposed wiring coming out of them and no light bulbs in them. Instead there were two, clip-on lights on either end of the stage ceiling to light the stage. Found out later that if you want a light show, you need to bring it yourselves. Lighting was basic to say the least.

During my mix I did get some high frequency feedback from the vocal mics due to how near they are to the main speakers on each end of the stage. A little bit of EQ roll-off is all I could do with what was available to work with. Opening band was a trio and I was really pushing vocal sound to get above the louder guitar amp and bass guitar. I kept running out of headroom on the mixer. I did the best I could for the mix.

The main band actually played quieter for their sets than the first band. I had 3 vocal mics up and a kick drum mic up and I have a good mix going during the sets. One song had a guest performer play some harmonica during a song and his sound was good during the set. Generally, I had a decent mix going on. There was only a small but, enthusiastic crowd that came to enjoy the music. It turned out to be a pretty good gig.

There are few things that I would change for my next gig at The Trinity Lounge:
- move the FOH mix to the front of house area - would need to find a mic snake cable for the setup.
- use proper stage monitors on a 2 ch. power amp instead of regular speakers on a powered mixer.
- add a 2 ch. 31 band, graphic EQ for 2 separate monitor mixes.
- remember to bring my iPod to plug into the mixer for house mix
- inquire about in-house stage lighting and bring at least a couple of lighting trees with some lights.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

My Response to Gordie Johnson's, "Turn That Amp Up!" Article


Gordie Johnson says, "Turn That Amp Up" to guitarists when playing live...

See article on Professional Sound magazine web site here: http://professional-sound.com/soundadvice/turn-that-amp-up-by-gordie-johnson/

Working as a sound tech in the bar/clubs, I know that guitar amps for the most part of usually louder that the other instrument amps in a typical band. The biggest issue happens when the guitarist has his amp facing the audience and all you can seem to hear is the guitar amp and not much else. Combo amps are problematic when the guitar places the amp on the floor behind himself and all the amp sound is blasting the back of his knees! That is when the guitarist turns it up because, he can't hear his amp!

I know that most tube guitar amps sound much better when they are turned up. As a sound tech, I usually make a suggestion to change the location of the amp from behind the guitarist to beside him. That way the guitarist can still keep the amp turned up while also providing a side fill wash of guitar to his band mates. That way, I can add the mic sound to FOH mix to blend with the rest of the band.

If the guitarist has a 1/2 stack amp then, I suggest that you turn the amp sideways towards your band mates on stage. Trust me, they will be able to hear you and so will you.

If the guitarist has a combo amp then, I suggest that he get that amp off the floor from behind him and put it up on something to allow them to hear their amp better. An empty road case works fine as does an amp stand that can be purchased at your local music shop. A wonderful creation for guitarists!

I believe that all guitarists should have a few amp set ups for various kinds of gigs. If you are playing arenas then a stack amp or powerful combo amp will be great. If you are playing a live music bar/club, a medium powered combo amp is plenty enough. If you are playing a coffee house, or other small venue, then a low powered combo amp will suffice. From my experience, I much rather enjoy mixing a band in a live music club playing through a 20 watt tube combo over a guitarist with a 100 watt stack amp.

When I mix shows at the local live club in my town, I have had the owner come up to me and ask for the mix levels to be turned down. That is when I show him that even when I mute the guitar mic channel on the mixer, the guitar amp is still really loud. It is his club and he has to appease his patrons so I usually find a way to fix the mix.

So, Mr. Gordie Johnson, I do agree that guitarists should "turn that amp up" but, I also know that sometimes less really is more.

Cheers!
The Sound Tech Guy....

Friday, October 16, 2015

Repair Or Replace Sound Reinforcement Gear?

Today, I read an article on the Prosoundweb.com site entitled "The Decision To Repair Or Replace Sound Reinforcement Gear" by Bruce Bain. This article is perfectly suited for this time of year if you are a sound company owner. The summer months are gone and fall is already here providing time to take inventory of all your sound gear and see what needs to cleaned, repaired, painted, or replaced.
Here is the link: http://www.prosoundweb.com/article/the_decision_to_repair_or_replace_gear/P1/


Back in the Jan/Feb 2014 issue of Canadian Musician magazine, is an article that I wrote called "Buying Used Sound Gear". It was my take on the process of buying used sound gear to create a PA system for bands, musicians and independent sound technicians like myself. In it I talk about the idea of contacting local,  sound productions to see what kind of quality, used gear they are selling off to replace with new, updated gear. Here is the link: http://issuu.com/cmonline/docs/sp_cm_janfeb14_2_/60



I was thinking about writing a follow-up article to my first one but, I believe that Bruce has touched on everything I would have talked about. Thank you Bruce!


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

9 Things Every Musician Needs To Know About The Sound Guy



Okay, today I came across this article pertaining to what a musician needs to know about the average sound guy at any gig. Here is the link to the article: http://www.digitalmusicnews.com/2014/01/06/sound-guy/

My Thoughts About Being A Sound Guy:

One of the things I wish to express to all musicians is about your personal gear for your show. As a sound tech, the biggest thing I come across at shows is when musicians do not bring all the required gear for their stage setup. (For example: power bars, extension cable, instrument cable, patch cable,  etc.)

Here is how I would like you to remember it for any gig. Bring all required accessories, cables, from the point of where you instrument setup begins to the point where it ends ready to patch into the sound system. For most sound systems that will usually mean at the point of connection at the microphone snake box onstage. Most venues will have the required XLR microphone cables to hookup to microphones, DI boxes and balanced line outs on instrument amplifiers. That means you as a musician need to worry about everything in the signal chain up to that point.

For guitarists: make sure you have all your guitar cables for your patches between you guitar, amp and pedalboard. I recommend that you also bring your own power bars and AC extension cable to power it all.
From the sound guy or girl: he or she will have the microphone, stand, and XLR cable to patch you into the PA.

For keyboardists: same as above. Make sure you have all your required patch cables and AC power for your keyboards. Some keyboardists show up without their own keyboard amp which is not recommend assuming that they can just patch into the PA. While that works with the proper DI boxes connected, it is not the optimum setup. Your guitarist/bassist buddies in your band have amps, so should you. Since keyboard amps usually have multiple channels then, you would able to have independent levels for each keyboard along with a way to monitor yourself during the show. The keyboard amp would have a line out that would be patched to the PA for the house mix. An alternate option to the keyboard amp could be a powered mixer with passive speakers or a passive mixer with powered speakers.

For drummers: if you have acoustic drums a great way for consistant stage sound is to purchase your own set of drum mics and carry to each gig. That way you know everything works and all you have to do is get the sound tech to patch into the PA.
From the sound guy or girl: we like to use sub snake cables for drum setups. It keeps the cable clutter down by allowing to use shorter XLR cables for each drum mic. Now, a cool option for a drummer is to also have a small sub snake cable constructed of about 10ft. consisting of just XLR Male and XLR Female tales ends labelled for each specific drum mic in your setup. Another popular option is to use a compact mixer to submix all the drum channels allowing the drummer to control the levels to monitor while sending a patch to the PA to the house mix.

For acoustic/electric guitarists: please remember to bring your guitar cable and spare batteries for your guitar preamp system. At most venues, there are not usually spares of this gear. Having an actual acoustic guitar amp to play through is a nice option compared to just plugging your guitar into a DI box patched into the PA. That guitar amp will give you confidence monitoring while onstage and it can patched directly to the PA for the house mix keeping your stage mix independent. If you don't have an amp then, at least purchase your own DI box for your setup. Many acoustic guitarists I have worked with always bring there own DI boxes to each gig which are patched into the PA. Make sure your DI box and guitar cables are in good, working order. Buy quality guitar cables and not the cheap ones. Quality cables will sound better and last longer.

For vocalists: if you have a specific vocal mic that your like to use then, please bring it. Most venues will only have a certain compliment of vocal mics to use onstage. (ie: Shure, AKG, EV, etc.) If you have a wireless mic setup that you prefer to use then, please bring that to the gig and inform the sound guy that you want to use it during the show. Don't forget the mic clip and batteries for your mic. Most venues do not have spare mic clips for wireless handheld mics which have a larger shaft then a regular wired mic. Bring your spare batteries and put in a fresh set just before you go on for the show. If your mic dies during your set there is nothing the sound guy can do about that. Note: If the venue has in-house wireless mics then, the battery responsibility goes to the house sound guy.

For all musicians: please do not damage any gear in the venue. If you noticed something that is broken with the sound gear onstage, please let the sound guy know so that he or she can make a note to have it fixed. When you have drinks onstage, please make sure to keep them upright during your set and take them away once your are done. Part of this is for safety reasons. Spill drink on mic connector and AC connectors and you may get the shock of your life. When it comes to teardown after a gig make sure you take your gear and only your gear. Please do not mix the venue's gear with your own. It all costs money to replace regardless of who loses it. It is best to mark all your cables, and cords with some kind of ID showing who it belongs to.

One note from the sound guy: Please make sure that the sound guy has muted all the mixer channels before you start unplugging cables from your gear causing loud bangs and pops through the PA. This is not good for the audience and it is not good for the speakers. Give the sound guy a few minutes to mute all the channels on the mixing console and then confirm with him or her before you unplug.

Thank you musicians for understanding what us sound guys are trying to do for you at your performances.
Rock on!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Experienced Sound Technician For Hire

My name is Ron Behro and I am currently seeking work as a freelance sound technician. I am interested in working with clients to provide professional sound services for their show or event. I am interested in working on events located in Sarnia, ON and the surrounding areas of Chatham and London, ON.

I am able to provide professional sound services for your show if you already have your own sound system in house or portable. If a sound system is required, I can put together a system that will work your show or event.

I have experience with up to 24 channel sound systems and audience of up to 600 people. I generally work with analog style mixing consoles for most shows however, I have worked a number of shows using digital mixing consoles.

If you are interested in hiring me to provide professional sound services for your next show or event, I invite you to contact me directly by email to discuss the details of your production. I generally work on a per contract basis with my clients and ask for payment on the day of your show or event. Rates for my services are based on the requirements of the show or event.

If you would like to hire me for your next show or event or require more information, please contact me using the information listed below. Thank you!