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  #1  
Old 09-19-2011, 01:46 AM
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Default What does the sound guy do.

I am about to play my first live drumming job in many years. The last time I did a job, they did not have sound men in clubs to mic the drums. Actually they had hollow logs and sticks that fell off the trees that morning.

I really do not see it necessary to mic the drums because I have a good kick and snare sound and my cymbals, to me sound good. My problem is that I have to tie the drums together and keep them from walking from my bass kicking. I have a pretty good bass kick. I break bass heads and bass beaters sometimes. I thought I stopped doing that, but started playing rock again.

What does the typical sound man do? Would he cut a hole in my bass drum even if I do not have a hole in the front head? Does the sound of the cymbals sound different through the PA system then what I hear from behind the kit? Would my snare sound different?

The place is small and only seats about 80 people, yet for some reason they have a sound man for this place.

What scares me is that I saw that you tube cartoon on this subject.
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Old 09-19-2011, 02:07 AM
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Pocket-full-of-gold Pocket-full-of-gold is offline
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Default Re: What does the sound guy do.

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Originally Posted by evolving_machine View Post
I really do not see it necessary to mic the drums because I have a good kick and snare sound and my cymbals, to me sound good.
For the most part, it's not about individual elements, it's about a decent mix of the entire band. An 80 seater may seem a little small, but at the end of the day they know their own venue and they know from past experience with other bands what's required.

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What does the typical sound man do?
His main aim is the front of house mix. Sure you'll probably get stage monitoring et al, but ensuring the punters can hear a good sound out the front is his primary objective. Depending on how he thinks this is best achieved, you may not be mic'd at all....or you might be fully mic'd. it's really his call.

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Would he cut a hole in my bass drum even if I do not have a hole in the front head?
Very much doubt it. I've never seen it done. I'm sure I've had one or two grumble over the years due to me having an unported head. But no, they won't start hacking away at your kit.

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Does the sound of the cymbals sound different through the PA system then what I hear from behind the kit? Would my snare sound different?
EQ-ing and other processing generally does change the way drums and cymbals naturally sound. However, it's really nothing to worry about. Besides, you're sitting right on top of them. unless you're using in-ears etc, your drums will still sound like your drums.

Play your gig, enjoy yourself and let them worry about the sound mate.
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Old 09-19-2011, 03:04 AM
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Default Re: What does the sound guy do.

Pocket, thanks for your response. I have only one more question though. Would it be harder to control the dynamics when things are under the mic?
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Old 09-19-2011, 03:24 AM
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Default Re: What does the sound guy do.

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Would it be harder to control the dynamics when things are under the mic?
That's his job. He'll work on all his levels and what have you and you'll be oblivious to the whole thing. Just play as you usually do and the mic's and sound guy will do the rest.

Don't over think it mate, just play and enjoy yourself.
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Old 09-19-2011, 10:05 AM
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Default Re: What does the sound guy do.

The sound from your position behind the drums is usually nowhere near what it's like in the audience. A good sound guy will be able to mix whatever he has control over. If he doesn't have control, he can at least tell you what's too loud/quiet.

It's been my observation that the drums in this kind of setting are typically too loud, especially the snare.
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Old 09-19-2011, 10:24 AM
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Default Re: What does the sound guy do.

If you have no hole in the bassdrum, the soundman has to change to another mic with other specifications or dynamics. He will have a little more work, but results can be stunning. Worked for John Bonham, so...

Bernhard
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Old 09-19-2011, 11:19 AM
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Default Re: What does the sound guy do.

Thanks all, my worries are now put to rest.
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Old 09-19-2011, 02:37 PM
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Default Re: What does the sound guy do.

just make sure you tell the sound engineer you have no hole...
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Old 09-19-2011, 07:02 PM
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Default Re: What does the sound guy do.

I had a sound guy convince my friend to cut a hole in his reso head. I was pissed. The sound guy just walked up and straight up said, "Would you mind porting that bass drum? you'll get a better sound out of the drum." Then they took an utility knife and pretty much free handed a circle in the head. It was awful. Granted, it was only a stock reso, nothing special, and my buddy isn't really a gear fanatic like me, so he didn't care, but still. The audacity of that guy floors me. Not to mention he completely screwed the entire show up. It was, again, awful. Among other ridiculous problems/issues we had that night (like the mix being totally off and everything sounding like komodo dragon ass), the headliner's keyboard wasn't coming through the PA and it took all of 20 minutes to retrace the channels and figure out what the problem was. And if I remember correctly, they had the channel muted and didnt know about it. Pathetic. Once, again, I was pissed.


In general sound guys are pretty cool. But every once and a while you get a freak of nature that doesn't know anything.
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Old 09-19-2011, 08:59 PM
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Default Re: What does the sound guy do.

I'm a professional sound guy working for the Disney Company and our job is to take your sound and get it out to the audience. As a musician there I know that what it sounds like to the guys on stage is completely different from what the audience hears. Basically we try to make it sound as if you're listening to pre-recorded music, to make the listening experience as good as it can be for the audience. We control the levels of what YOU hear on stage (the monitoring situation) to make it comfortable for you as well. We usually have drum kits already provided, but when guys show up with theirn own, we do NOT force you to cut a hole in your front head. We're good enough to take what shows up and mix it. It sucks fro some players because everyone thinks the sound guy is this frustrated musician who doesn't know what he's doing, but as far as I, and my people go, we're all part of the IATSE union and we've all had training and like anything, the training never stops because the technology never stops.
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Old 09-20-2011, 01:11 AM
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Default Re: What does the sound guy do.

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Originally Posted by evolving_machine View Post
Would it be harder to control the dynamics when things are under the mic?
I can also help with this one. If the sound man knows his stuff, the dynamics of your music shouldn't change. He should be just incorporating each individual instrument and vocalist into a sound reinforcement mixture. Depending on the venue, after I have the levels set to where everything sounds great to the audience, I let the dynamics of the music flow as it should and not overly compensate by pushing the levels up or down unnecessarily. This is particularly valid when it comes to jazz sessions or any other venue that must have it's light passages preserved.

The best sound techs are the ones who's work is transparent.

Dennis
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Old 09-20-2011, 04:44 AM
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Default Re: What does the sound guy do.

In a place that small, they'll likely just do a minimal mic job of the drums. Often just the kick, or maybe snare and kick get a mic. Perhaps you should call ahead and ask the sound guy what's up. Ask him if he prefers you to bring a ported head (probably yes) and also ask what else he intends to mic.
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Old 11-06-2011, 12:32 AM
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Default Re: What does the sound guy do.

I was a bit worried about the show since I never had a sound guy before. I played out a lot many years ago but I never put any microphones to the drums and never had a stage monitor. I have to tell you, even though this place was small (80 people) it really helped. You guys who posted here knew what you were talking about. He was my best friend. I did not have to fight to keep the volume with the guitars and I was able to play without any worries.

Thanks to all of you,
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Old 11-06-2011, 01:14 AM
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Default Re: What does the sound guy do.

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Originally Posted by evolving_machine View Post
The place is small and only seats about 80 people, yet for some reason they have a sound man for this place.
I had this a couple of years ago. A fairly dead room that's long and thin may well need instruments to go through a PA. Otherwise, the sound can be a bit muffled by the time it reaches the other end of the room.
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Old 11-07-2011, 02:03 AM
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Default Re: What does the sound guy do.

In my early days of playing rock in the dive bars, they would have sound guys for the smallest venues. You'd be lucky if there were more than 10 regulars stopping in. I remember having to pay the soundman and the person at the door off the top of the tickets/door charge. Then, the venue got 80% of everything after that. We didn't care at that point...we were making music, and ended up paying to do so most times. I just thought of the sound guys as the unneeded extra expense. Nowadays, they are invaluable. I just played for a 1400 seat auditorium (sold out) and if we didn't have a reliable guy back there behind the board, we would probably sound horrible. God bless the sound guys!
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Old 11-09-2011, 06:30 PM
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Default Re: What does the sound guy do.

It's the people behind the scenes that are really valuable. They may not get recognition but they add a lot to any show.
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Old 11-10-2011, 02:59 PM
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Default Re: What does the sound guy do.

I sent the sound guy a thank you email and he was very greatful. I am not sure it was a result of my email, but we have another gig there in Janaury and this time it is on a Weekend night, instead of the Tuesday night we played last time.
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Old 11-10-2011, 03:22 PM
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Default Re: What does the sound guy do.

A good soundman simply tries to reinforce what your producing. Hes not supposed to change your sound their job is to bring your sound forward in the FOH and give you better hearing of the backline in the monitors. Unless you have certain effects you want added to vocals theres no reason for a sound company to "add" a thing to your sound. Doc
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Old 11-10-2011, 06:47 PM
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Default Re: What does the sound guy do.

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What scares me is that I saw that you tube cartoon on this subject.
OK I have searched but cannot find it, What cartoon?
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Old 11-11-2011, 08:33 PM
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Default Re: What does the sound guy do.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGbcnZ-3CJQ

This is the Sound Guy vs Jazz Drummer
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