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Sound Bytes: Set up and Sound Check for the Large Venue (Running Sound From Stage)


Set up and sound check are crucial to a good balanced mix. We like to set up in the afternoon whenever possible. This leaves plenty of time to correct any technical problems that might occur. Of course, this is not always possible. Before setting any microphones up, get a microphone and check to ensure that subs, mains and monitors are all working. If all is working your ready to start micing the stage.

Bass Guitar, Keyboards and Acoustic Guitar can be run direct to the board, this reduces the number of microphones on stage. While guitars could be run direct, there is usually better sound by micing the amplifier. This replicates the actual sound of the amplifier through its speaker. Be sure to leave a little space between the amplifier and microphone. A little air helps enhance the sound. Place the microphone toward the corner of one of the speakers. The sound does not resonate from the center of the cone. A Shure SM57 is usually a good choice for micing the guitar amp (and snare drum). If you don't have enough microphones to mic all the drums, at least mic the bass drum and the snare (place this mic close enough to snare edge to pick up the high hat). Make sure to have proper distance between microphones to minimize additional stage volume.

Once all microphones are in place, start with the drums.  A good mix revolves around the drums sound. Also, remember to consider the type of music you play! If you are playing Rap music, crank those subs, if your playing bubble gum pop, you probably don't want as much boom in the subs. Set your crossover and volume accordingly. Then mix the bass guitar in with the drums to ensure they are not stepping on each others frequencies and get a basic ground volume level. Mix the keyboards in next, and then the guitars. Now that you have the music set up, do each band members vocal microphone.

Once all the levels are set, play a song with just the monitors on. Find out who needs to be louder or softer in what monitors. When all the band members are happy, turn the subs and mains back on and play another song. Have someone, perhaps a band member who is wireless go out and listen. Make any adjustments as needed. A good mix starts at the stage, so get a good stage mix and that makes the FOH (Front Of House) mix that much easier!!!

Mixing sound is not just a science, but an art, and what some sound guys like, others don't like. The bottom line is you are playing to a crowd of people. Ideally the sound should be a mix that makes both the band and the crowd happy!!!

I would be lying if I said this is how we administor our set up and sound check for every show. Sometimes band members schedule's or venue schedule's don't allow the proper time to set up this way, but its a good basic start.

Hope to see you all tomorrow night at Papa's Social Club!!! No sound worries for us tomorrow as Papa's Social Club does an excellent job providing the sound!!!

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