Think that sound engineering might be the music industry job for you? Sound engineers get to be there for the all the good times - at the end of a really great show, chances are that the sound crew will be buzzing just as much as the band. But for all the good times, sound engineers also have to carry a lot of responsibility (not to mention putting up with more than a few cranky bands). Here, veteran sound man Simon Kasprowicz, aka Kas to his friends, shares some insight into the job of a sound engineer and tons of good advice for getting started. A connsumate professional and top notch sound engineer, you name a type of show or size of venue, and chances are Kas has worked it and worked it well. His words are definitely worth taking to heart:
First things first - what exactly is a sound engineer?
Sound Engineers come in many guises and none of these are mutually exclusive, a good sound engineer will have a balance of most of these skills.
I tend to work as a live FOH sound engineer; when you go to a concert and see the big desk and racks of gear at the back of the room I'm the guy standing behind it operating it all, mixing the Front of House Sound (FOH). This is what the audience hears. Every instrument on stage has a microphone pointing at it or is plugged into a DI box (Direct Injection Box), i.e. Kick drum, snare drum, hi hat.....bass,guitar.....keyboard,violin,...vocals.... Each one of these corresponds to a channel on the mixing desk, and it is my job to balance the sound ( make sure everything is audible and pleasing to the ears) via use of gain, EQ, compression, effects (FX) etc.
There is also Monitor Sound, which will either be done at the FOH desk or on a separate desk at the side of stage. This is what the band hears. Each member of the band will have a set of monitors either in the form of wedges on stage or In Ears (ear phones) and the monitor engineer will send individual mixes to each of these as the band requires. This is not always a balanced mix like out front as the musician may only what to hear key things, i.e. the singer may only want his vocals as he can hear the drums and guitars loud enough already. The musicians will instruct the monitor engineer to what they individually require.
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