Friday, May 20, 2016

Working With What You Have At A Gig...

In my previous experience working gigs at a local bar, I always seemed to have a day when I would get there to find the house sound equipment, not working, disconnected, damaged and even missing. It was always a challenge not knowing what to expect when I showed up for band setups and sound check.

For me the biggest issue I always seemed to have is finding the gear I required for a gig was damaged. Specifically, broken speaker jacks on stage monitors and monitors with blown out horns in them. Of course, with no spare parts and no time to fix the problems, the musicians had to deal with the gear that same as I did. The broken speaker jacks were a small problem because, the shaft of the jack was plastic and the nut holding it on the plate was snapped off allowing the connector to fall inside the speaker.

My Solution:
Unscrew the speaker jack plate, pull out the broken jack, plug in the speaker cable on the outside of the box and electrical tape it to at least make it work for the show. Then after the show, I replaced the cable inside the speaker and then left a note for the house technician explaining which speakers needed to be fixed.

One time I was line checking the house system and did a walk around to make sure the mains were all working. The top cabinets were set up in an arrayed fashion with 3 cabinets per side. Besides the slightly annoying ground hum, I realized that the horns on 2 of the 6 cabinets were blown. So, I was getting less highs from both sides of the stage.

My Solution:
Temporarily disconnecting the speaker cables from each cabinet with the blown horns and using less speakers for the gig. The two outside speakers were the blown ones so, I just adjusted the array of the remaining speakers which actually sounded better with less! Sometimes problems are blessing in disguise! Once again I left a detailed note for the house tech explaining the problems with the speakers and what needed to be repaired.

Another time I was line checking the system before the band had arrived and after wiring and setting up drum mics, I turned up the channels and got loads of buzz from each drum channel. I sourced the problem back the rack of compressors and gates inserted on all the drum channels. The previous gig I used the same setup with compressors and gates inserted without any problem. This time something had changed.

My Solution:
For the sound check, I unplugged all the compressors and gates inserted on the drum channels and the buzzing disappeared. I did not have as much control of the dynamics but, my mix still sounded better without all the buzz. After the gig, I replaced the setup to way it was and left a note for the house tech to diagnose the problem.

With the old house system setup at the bar, the house tech had labelled all sorts of things with green painters tape telling us sound techs what things should never be turned off, what level things should not be turned up higher than and what things were not working or being used in the system. Let me tell you there was a load of green tape on everything. Let me leave you with a some sample pictures of the front of house view back in the day....

Soundtechguy signing off......Cheers!

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