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  #1  
Old 10-19-2012, 06:02 AM
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Default Sound checks

All,
I was wondering what you like to do for sound checks. Do you like playing part of the loudest song in the set? The softest? In between? I would think that the loudest one would be best because if can hear well then, you should be able to hear well when it's softer. Thoughts?
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Old 10-19-2012, 06:10 AM
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Default Re: Sound checks

The engineer would ask me for each element so I'd play it in my dynamic range. Then he'd ask me to go around the kit like I would in the gig.

"Okay, that's good. Voca ..."

"Hang on ... what about the toms? I can't hear them!"

"Sorry, not enough mics ... okay ... vocals ... one tsoo one tsoo ..."
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Old 10-19-2012, 11:09 AM
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Default Re: Sound checks

We travel with our own soundguy, and by doing that, you can work on techniques for better/faster/more efficient sound checks.
I've built a basic drum warmup pattern for sound checks that I use, and while I'm doing that, he's bringing up levels. By the time I'm done with my warmup, he's pretty close with his levels. Then, at the end, if we need to, we do a few singles on things that need some form of treatment [gating, eq'ing, etc], and we're finished. He knows what I like in my monitors [me, mostly], and he's a drummer as well, so if there's something wrong that he needs to hear for himself, he can grab the sticks and play and hear. Great bonus and really comes in handy. He discovers blown monitors like that all the time.

Dynamically, during that pattern I go through the range. I start off at a mid-tempo, basic pattern played at a standard volume. As I play the pattern, I focus on one part of the kit for emphasis. The beginning kick/snare/hat part will start as a money beat, eventually working it's way to a more complicated beat so he can hear if things are making it through the P.A. with distinction. As I move on, he makes adjustments, and usually we're both finished right at the same time. Further into the pattern, it ramps up in intensity, and he rolls back levels if he needs to at that point. Then, the last part of the pattern shifts to a fast pattern, a hi-tempo "hey ho let's go" for a few minutes with breaks and fills. During that time he's confirming his gate settings and making last adjustments. And even though that pattern played at that speed is what I do primarily live, it's not what I do in checks. It would be a pain in the rump for a soundman to try to check me if I was playing full-blast punk beats the entire time.

Then we're done.

A lot of soundguys will want you to do singles on the kick, then snare, hat, etc., without playing a full beat until the end. If it's that situation, I give them the singles, but I add things so it'll help him get a mix while he's going. For example: play the kick, pretty much at your top volume or close. Once he's got that and you go to snare, give him the singles, then add an occasional kick as well. He'll be able to compare the two signals and mix accordingly while he's going. Hats, single hits, partially closed, closed, open...with kick hits [and now occasional snare]. Keep going. Focus on what he wants you to hit, and give him good, clean hits for a bit of each. If you play the spectrum, he'll have an easier time dialing you in. And since you play with dynamics, you should make sure those dynamics come through in sound check.

me...again with the coffee...sorry guys....
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  #4  
Old 10-19-2012, 04:34 PM
Anthony Amodeo
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Default Re: Sound checks

nothing more annoying than bands that treat sound check like a rehearsal

just do a quick line check

then check the band together and get off the stage
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  #5  
Old 10-19-2012, 04:41 PM
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Default Re: Sound checks

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gvdadrummasum View Post
nothing more annoying than bands that treat sound check like a rehearsal

just do a quick line check

then check the band together and get off the stage
We usually sound check with a chorus or two of "The Chicken" and then skedaddle.
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  #6  
Old 10-19-2012, 04:57 PM
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Default Re: Sound checks

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gvdadrummasum View Post
nothing more annoying than bands that treat sound check like a rehearsal

just do a quick line check

then check the band together and get off the stage
When you check the band together, what do you play and how loud? Top volume? Meduim? Soft?
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  #7  
Old 10-19-2012, 04:58 PM
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Default Re: Sound checks

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gvdadrummasum View Post
nothing more annoying than bands that treat sound check like a rehearsal

just do a quick line check

then check the band together and get off the stage
That's my opinion as well. The sound guy has me hit each drum, then play something real quick using all drums. Then they check the instruments and vocals. We do maybe 30 seconds of a song (any song) and bam, done.

Most tweaks will be made during the first song anyway.
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  #8  
Old 10-19-2012, 05:05 PM
Anthony Amodeo
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Default Re: Sound checks

Quote:
Originally Posted by AZslim View Post
When you check the band together, what do you play and how loud? Top volume? Meduim? Soft?

play a portion of a tune

I never think about how loud or soft

it is about the cohesion of sounds together not how the drums sound

a sound check should not be something you over think
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  #9  
Old 10-19-2012, 05:19 PM
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SquadLeader SquadLeader is offline
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Default Re: Sound checks

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gvdadrummasum View Post
play a portion of a tune

I never think about how loud or soft

it is about the cohesion of sounds together not how the drums sound

a sound check should not be something you over think
Each individual drum gets a whack......whack.......whack whack.......whackackackack.....whack......whack

Then a 4/4 beat with some fills and cymbal work

Band do their sound check....then we play a single song right through fully and properly for the sound guy to mess around with the levels on.

Then we're done.

Seems to be about the norm up here (up here being North West England)
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  #10  
Old 10-19-2012, 05:19 PM
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Default Re: Sound checks

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Originally Posted by Gvdadrummasum View Post
nothing more annoying than bands that treat sound check like a rehearsal

just do a quick line check

then check the band together and get off the stage
My brother is in a band where the self-appointed "leader" has two, yes TWO, hour soundchecks. Nobody complains, they just huff and puff and look at their watches. Ridiculous. What's the word/phrase I'm looking for....anal retentive, obsessed, perfectionist that sucks any spontaneity out of the music? Jeez
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  #11  
Old 10-19-2012, 05:22 PM
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NUTHA JASON NUTHA JASON is offline
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Default Re: Sound checks

my band very rarely soundchecks anymore. our singer is a wizard at live PA. he tweaks the mix during the first song.

when we do do a sound check its a quick twang on individual instruments. i check whatever is miced on my kit (here's a hint - always play your bass drum a little softer than you will actually be playing it in the gig. i'd rather they turn me down during the show than me beg them to turn it up. and bass is so important to the sound). then i play the kit all together - usually i do 3 bars of 'fool in the rain' a huge all tom fill and a couple of bars of the ride part and then stop. that gives them everything they need and i like playing that song.

j
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  #12  
Old 10-19-2012, 05:23 PM
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Default Re: Sound checks

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gvdadrummasum View Post
play a portion of a tune

I never think about how loud or soft

it is about the cohesion of sounds together not how the drums sound

a sound check should not be something you over think
Intersting. The reason I brought it up is because I noticed at our last gig we did all this stuff. The people I talked to after the show said the first 2 or three songs sucked soundwise. Well, the room filled up after we checked sound so of course it sounded completely different when we played to a full room. I'm thinking you have a good point. Do it fast because it will need tweaking anyway.
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  #13  
Old 10-19-2012, 05:45 PM
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Default Re: Sound checks

Quote:
Originally Posted by larryz View Post
My brother is in a band where the self-appointed "leader" has two, yes TWO, hour soundchecks. Nobody complains, they just huff and puff and look at their watches. Ridiculous. What's the word/phrase I'm looking for....anal retentive, obsessed, perfectionist that sucks any spontaneity out of the music? Jeez
You're talking about sound check only being 2 hours, right? Not the setup and stuff? That's crazy.

I've seen professional touring bands do that qutie a few times, while the opening act waits patiently to set their stuff up. But, it is their show, so it's understandable.
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  #14  
Old 10-19-2012, 06:06 PM
Anthony Amodeo
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Default Re: Sound checks

Quote:
Originally Posted by AZslim View Post
Intersting. The reason I brought it up is because I noticed at our last gig we did all this stuff. The people I talked to after the show said the first 2 or three songs sucked soundwise. Well, the room filled up after we checked sound so of course it sounded completely different when we played to a full room. I'm thinking you have a good point. Do it fast because it will need tweaking anyway.
none of that is your fault

it is the sound mans fault

if you guys ran a line check...then checked the whole band and the first 3 songs still sounded like garbage

that is a garbage sound man

either that or he just didn't care enough to make you guys sound good......which is a pretty common thing sometimes unfortunately
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  #15  
Old 10-19-2012, 06:23 PM
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Default Re: Sound checks

We fall into the same category - we perform a line check, monitor check, and for my drum check, it's as simple as getting the levels/sound/gating, etc. on the snare, toms, and overheads. I then play the entire kit with a simple beat and make sure to do a simple roll and hit a cymbal or two. That's it. We don't even play a song.

What I'd like to add to this, even though it's not part of the main topic, are drummers who think it's a mini "solo time" during the drum portion of the sound check. It's not neccessary and to me amounts to nothing more than someone trying to show off - whether they have the chops or not...
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  #16  
Old 10-19-2012, 07:40 PM
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Default Re: Sound checks

Quote:
Originally Posted by AZslim View Post
All,
I was wondering what you like to do for sound checks. Do you like playing part of the loudest song in the set? The softest? In between? I would think that the loudest one would be best because if can hear well then, you should be able to hear well when it's softer. Thoughts?

We just had this discussion last night. Our theory was to start at lower levels to get the mix right. Then, all you have to do is turn up the master volume.

At this point, it's only a theory.
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  #17  
Old 10-19-2012, 08:11 PM
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bermuda bermuda is offline
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Default Re: Sound checks

Depends on the instrumentation, whether the sound people travel with the band, whether there are monitors and possibly clicks, whether the board/s travel with the band (and whether they are programmable or subject to knobs and buttons being changed...) and of course every room is different.

Our routine on the road varies a bit, we used to not sound check at all. Crew would do a line check, tune the p.a. to the room with some favorite CDs, and the band's sound and mix would fall into place accordingly (we carry production so everything's consistent night after night, and from leg to leg.) Currently, the crew does a line check, runs some CDs for general room sound, and then the band does 2 songs for a check. Those particular songs include every possible scenario for the show: guitar, bass, drums, banjo, accordion, keys, clicks and tracks, vocals from all, and video cues. Takes maybe 8-10 minutes.

Bermuda
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  #18  
Old 10-19-2012, 08:44 PM
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Default Re: Sound checks

Quote:
Originally Posted by NUTHA JASON View Post
..when we do do a sound check its a quick twang on individual instruments. i check whatever is miced on my kit (here's a hint - always play your bass drum a little softer than you will actually be playing it in the gig. i'd rather they turn me down during the show than me beg them to turn it up. and bass is so important to the sound). j
+1 on the bass drum tip

A sound guy will almost always turn you down if necessary, but getting your kick level up once you start doesn't always happen when you're doing a one-off with a sound guy that's not on your nickel.

I usually do a steady 10 second or so boom bat on the kick and snare and then another 10 seconds with a really slow double stroke roll around the toms and cymbals. Play a simple 4/4 at medium tempo at a strong volume. On a scale of 1 to 10, at about a 6.

Then I stop and see what anybody else want or needs. No noodling, no messing around, no solos, chops or licks.
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Old 10-19-2012, 08:50 PM
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Default Re: Sound checks

Quote:
Originally Posted by SAINTDRUMS View Post
What I'd like to add to this, even though it's not part of the main topic, are drummers who think it's a mini "solo time" during the drum portion of the sound check. It's not neccessary and to me amounts to nothing more than someone trying to show off - whether they have the chops or not...
100% agreed, this is my ultimate nag when bands are sound checking. It doesn't do anything to help the sound engineer because the notes are flying out so fast and randomly, there's no anchor point to balance the levels off each other. It is literally that as well, showing off, like there's a need to "scare the competition". Say what you have to say about yourself through your music, am I right?

Something I do like to do after I've got set-up is to play no more than TWO bars, just to see what the set is sounding like in that room and what to retune/tweek slightly. Nothing worse than having to stop half way through a sound check because you realise the tuning of the snare (or whichever drum) is off with the room. It wastes time and re-tuning after sound check could mean the sound engineer has to re-dial the set.

Hope everyone is having a great start to their weekend! and happy gigging for those who are :)

Kev
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  #20  
Old 10-19-2012, 08:59 PM
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Florian Florian is offline
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Default Re: Sound checks

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gvdadrummasum View Post
nothing more annoying than bands that treat sound check like a rehearsal

just do a quick line check

then check the band together and get off the stage
this. Pound each drum, do about 5 bars, adjust my IEMs - go get some dinner.


F
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  #21  
Old 10-20-2012, 01:06 AM
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Default Re: Sound checks

As someone who used to have a live sound company, if I've never heard you before, I want to hear how loud each thing is going to get. So the first order of business is a basic line check and input trim setting. There are some idiots out there who put all the faders at zero and mix from the input trims, but nobody who understands gain staging does this. Once that is done and I know everything is ready to mix, I may try to tweak some channels, setting eq, compression or gating. While leaving enough time (except in festivals where it's hit it on the fly) to run though a couple minutes of playing together to get the basic mix, see what's colliding with what and separate it. Maybe that deep fat 14x8 snare you have is colliding with the chuaka-chucka of the guitarists 4-12 stack, and he doesn't have the best time in the world. So one of the two of you is going to lose some bottom end so it doesn't sound like a 200Hz flam all the time. Most of those things happen after the basic mix and often during the first song.

What kills me is when people tap things lightly, and then when the downbeat hits, are blowing every channel into clipping. I usually make some judgement call if I think this is going to happen and leave some headroom. But you never know when someone will just turn up, or the guitarist steps on what soundfolks call the "pedal of doom".
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Old 10-20-2012, 05:03 AM
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Default Re: Sound checks

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aeolian View Post
As someone who used to have a live sound company, if I've never heard you before, I want to hear how loud each thing is going to get. So the first order of business is a basic line check and input trim setting. There are some idiots out there who put all the faders at zero and mix from the input trims, but nobody who understands gain staging does this. Once that is done and I know everything is ready to mix, I may try to tweak some channels, setting eq, compression or gating. While leaving enough time (except in festivals where it's hit it on the fly) to run though a couple minutes of playing together to get the basic mix, see what's colliding with what and separate it. Maybe that deep fat 14x8 snare you have is colliding with the chuaka-chucka of the guitarists 4-12 stack, and he doesn't have the best time in the world. So one of the two of you is going to lose some bottom end so it doesn't sound like a 200Hz flam all the time. Most of those things happen after the basic mix and often during the first song.

What kills me is when people tap things lightly, and then when the downbeat hits, are blowing every channel into clipping. I usually make some judgement call if I think this is going to happen and leave some headroom. But you never know when someone will just turn up, or the guitarist steps on what soundfolks call the "pedal of doom".
What do you like the band to do for the sound check? I'm guessing a little of the loudest song and a little of the softest song, letting you know this?
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Old 10-21-2012, 02:12 AM
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Default Re: Sound checks

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Originally Posted by AZslim View Post
What do you like the band to do for the sound check? I'm guessing a little of the loudest song and a little of the softest song, letting you know this?
I don't really care about a soft song. It's easy to ease things up if the crowd isn't listing and won't shut up. It's the frantic yanking things down that you want to avoid. The initial distorted blast, and subsequent bottom dropping out sounds really unprofessional. Most of all I want to get your messiest song, where everyone is playing at once. A good soundman can carve out sonic spaces for each instrument with some judicious eq if the band isn't well arranged with such sonic conflicts avoided. And it helps to get a sense of how much people change levels between soloing and not soloing. Good bands manage their levels within the songs, amateurs leave everything at the same level and expect the soundman to turn them up for solos (and to know where the solos are). The result often being that the soundman turns the rhythm parts down to a tolerable level where you can hear the vocals and any solos end up sounding weak if you can tell someone is soloing at all.

One thing that helps, and will get you the soundman's best effort, is to provide a set list with notes. e.g. Ballad, 2nd guitarist takes a solo after 3rd verse. Headbanger with loud intro on drums and 1st guitar. Give this to the soundguy along with a stage plot (shows where everyone stands and what their playing, names don't mean anything to someone who doesn't know you, just write down lead vox, backing vox, doubles on mandolin, or whatever) during load in. Be ready to answer questions. But don't pester him with details. He may have stage plots for 4 different bands and is trying to work out the quickest changeovers that keep mics set for their respective uses. But have someone who knows the tunes available if he does come up with any questions later.

These are things you do to support a pro soundman and get the best show possible. Of course there are bars where some loser has talked their way into "running the board" and has no clue. Best you can do in these cases is try to treat them like a pro and hope they can step up. If not, you get what everyone else gets. hint: this is where it really helps to have your arrangements and dynamics down.
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  #24  
Old 10-21-2012, 07:27 AM
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Default Re: Sound checks

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aeolian View Post
I don't really care about a soft song. It's easy to ease things up if the crowd isn't listing and won't shut up. It's the frantic yanking things down that you want to avoid. The initial distorted blast, and subsequent bottom dropping out sounds really unprofessional. Most of all I want to get your messiest song, where everyone is playing at once. A good soundman can carve out sonic spaces for each instrument with some judicious eq if the band isn't well arranged with such sonic conflicts avoided. And it helps to get a sense of how much people change levels between soloing and not soloing. Good bands manage their levels within the songs, amateurs leave everything at the same level and expect the soundman to turn them up for solos (and to know where the solos are). The result often being that the soundman turns the rhythm parts down to a tolerable level where you can hear the vocals and any solos end up sounding weak if you can tell someone is soloing at all.

One thing that helps, and will get you the soundman's best effort, is to provide a set list with notes. e.g. Ballad, 2nd guitarist takes a solo after 3rd verse. Headbanger with loud intro on drums and 1st guitar. Give this to the soundguy along with a stage plot (shows where everyone stands and what their playing, names don't mean anything to someone who doesn't know you, just write down lead vox, backing vox, doubles on mandolin, or whatever) during load in. Be ready to answer questions. But don't pester him with details. He may have stage plots for 4 different bands and is trying to work out the quickest changeovers that keep mics set for their respective uses. But have someone who knows the tunes available if he does come up with any questions later.

These are things you do to support a pro soundman and get the best show possible. Of course there are bars where some loser has talked their way into "running the board" and has no clue. Best you can do in these cases is try to treat them like a pro and hope they can step up. If not, you get what everyone else gets. hint: this is where it really helps to have your arrangements and dynamics down.
Thanks. Very helpful information.
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