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Author Topic: A few questions for BEs  (Read 9013 times)

Charlotte Evans

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Re: A few questions for BEs
« Reply #10 on: June 09, 2008, 04:26:15 pm »

Quote:

No problem.

The biggest problem for me is the attitude of some technicians. Way too many are "too cool" to hang at FOH while soundcheck is going on. That's when a problem that occur need to be fixed quickly. Why is the tech nowhere to be found? Why do I have to leave everyone waiting on stage and the clock ticking to go and find the tech to come fix his shit?
Stuff breaks, shit happens, just be a professional and get on it when you know there's a problem. I don't care if you found it or I found it, just be there and working on it.

Oh, and why don't you have any spares with you? No adapters? Didn't bring a soldering iron, meter or even a leatherman? That's pathetic. Give me back my maglite


I agree on that. Good call.
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Toby Mills

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Re: A few questions for BEs
« Reply #11 on: June 09, 2008, 05:00:41 pm »

Quote:

2. Has troubleshooting ever taken time you needed for more critical tasks?
Of course.

What's more important than a 100% functioning system?
As far as I'm concerned, that is the most critical task and personally I find the stuff I do as a BE is far less important than ensuring the system is running ok.

Worse comes to worse I can put a mix together in a minute or two when the show starts, mics can be tweaked or even replaced during the show but all the prep work in the world is useless if the system is not working properly. I'd sooner spend all of the pre-show time helping the SE get the system running if that is required.

Of course I'm mighty pissed when it happens but taking the time might also ensure the SE learns a bit more and perhaps this won't happen to the next poor sod who comes along into the venue.
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bo putnam

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Re: A few questions for BEs
« Reply #12 on: June 10, 2008, 12:42:05 am »

Matthew Whitman wrote on Sun, 08 June 2008 10:40

Greetings,

I have a few questions for BEs traveling with national acts.

1. Do you ever find yourself helping SEs troubleshoot their systems?  If so, how often?

2. Has troubleshooting ever taken time you needed for more critical tasks?

3. Have you ever found yourself discovering problems that you felt should have already been dealt with by the SE and/or sound company?

4. Do you find that SEs generally take a proactive role in problem solving, or do they allow you to diagnose/fix problems?



1.  Yes, and not infrequently.  But, the level of "troubleshooting' is dependent on venue, HE and house culture.  Some houses are fit; others are struggling with low budgets, erratic HE support and aged gear.  Many don't have means to properly measure their system and welcome the insight.  

2. In the instances where needed, that is the norm.  However, that "troubleshooting" is included in "critical time" and is incorporated in my time budget after I advance the show.

3.  Occaisionally, but again, it depends on venue, HE quality, and house culture.  Many houses meet our hopes; others merely meet our expectations.  That is why advancing the show is so critical, and having the "save the gig case" always close at hand...

4.  Yes.  If we show knowledge, courtesy and experience, it is a good and fun experience.  Everyone wants a good show.  SE's/HE's have a ton of experience and never want a show to fail; and ideally, BE's learn a lot at every venue they work.  
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David Turner

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Re: A few questions for BEs
« Reply #13 on: June 10, 2008, 09:24:58 am »

Matthew Whitman wrote on Sun, 08 June 2008 12:40

Greetings,

I have a few questions for BEs traveling with national acts.

1. Do you ever find yourself helping SEs troubleshoot their systems?  If so, how often?


Too often!
[/quote]
2. Has troubleshooting ever taken time you needed for more critical tasks?
[/quote]
Yes
[/quote]
3. Have you ever found yourself discovering problems that you felt should have already been dealt with by the SE and/or sound company?
[/quote]
Yes
[/quote]
4. Do you find that SEs generally take a proactive role in problem solving, or do they allow you to diagnose/fix problems?
[/quote]
Depends on the SE

Thanks in advance for the replies.

-Matt


The most troubling thing is when one of my crew and one of their crew each get the attitude "It can't be my stuff, must be yours!"

This is not productive.
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James Feenstra

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Re: A few questions for BEs
« Reply #14 on: June 10, 2008, 11:02:02 am »

I'm mainly a BE (although not quite doing nationals yet, lots of regional acts though) and do local stuff when I'm in town
Matthew Whitman wrote on Sun, 08 June 2008 13:40


1. Do you ever find yourself helping SEs troubleshoot their systems?  If so, how often?
more often than not

Quote:

2. Has troubleshooting ever taken time you needed for more critical tasks?
not so much, but then again the shows I'm doing are generally smaller (>5000 people) so there's lots of downtime

Quote:

3. Have you ever found yourself discovering problems that you felt should have already been dealt with by the SE and/or sound company?
yes

Quote:

4. Do you find that SEs generally take a proactive role in problem solving, or do they allow you to diagnose/fix problems?
it's about 50/50, although the final decision for anything really lies on the SE/PA co, as it's their gear
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Chase Reynolds

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Re: A few questions for BEs
« Reply #15 on: June 10, 2008, 05:52:45 pm »

I work with several bands that are still on the bar circuit but are on the edge of outgrowing it.  I find more often then not a system is fully working but not up to our standards.  I'm usually lucky enough to be carrying a full mic package, digital console, and in-ears for everyone.  This greatly reduces the amount of setup time required. What we do is still schedule the same amount of soundcheck time that we used to, if we can, and used the time saved  to "optimize" the PA if necessary.  I find this is the case almost every night.  

The main band that I work with is extremely popular in our area and  they play a lot of big venues as well as open for a good number of national tour acts.  However, they still fill in the calender and and pay the bills with small to medium sized bar-style venues.  In  these types of places, alcohol and ticket sales are still the most important things.  Having an amazing sounding PA/room and a high quality show experience is further down the list of priorities.  So  most of the time the PA is working just fine but it needs to be tweaked.  Time permitting, we'll play with delay times, crossover points, eqs, speaker positions, gain structures, etc...

Now, for the cover band that played the same venue the night before, the PA system worked great. However, we might demand a little higher quality.  So i guess the term "trouble shooting" is a relative term.  The band that comes after us might not find the  house PA exceptable at all.  You never know.

The thing that I find more important then a SEs ability to trouble shoot is the his/hers attitude and professionalism.  We've all met a SE that during introductions you can just tell that there is no way they're going to let you touch their PA no matter how bad or miss applied it is.  I find good communication skills to be invaluable to a BE.  Often, it's simply a matter of a little conversation during load-in that tells the SE that I'm not some local DJ that wants to run everything into the red and blow his system up.  Building a professional, courteous, trusting relationship from the start can go a long way when you start to run into problems with the PA.  On that same note, I think a good SE should be open to suggestions and really want the most out of his system.  In some cases, the BE is much more experienced and knowledgeable then the SE.  A professional attitude is incredible important in our industry.
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bo putnam

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Re: A few questions for BEs
« Reply #16 on: June 10, 2008, 06:17:02 pm »

Chase Reynolds wrote on Tue, 10 June 2008 14:52

We've all met a SE that during introductions you can just tell that there is no way they're going to let you touch their PA no matter how bad or miss applied it is.  I find good communication skills to be invaluable to a BE.  ... On that same note, I think a good SE should be open to suggestions and really want the most out of his system.  In some cases, the BE is much more experienced and knowledgeable then the SE.  A professional attitude is incredible important in our industry.


Agree, Chase.  

As example, in a number of instances, I've shown the SE/HE their subs, by position, are out-of-phase.  Show them the Smaart IR from the middle of the room, and then either change phase on their DSP - or insert Pin3/Pin2 swap adapters - and show the change on the IR and have them listen to the difference.  It's easy to appreciate the improvement.

That said, it's important and only fair to always completely double-check their system on our departure.  If I've dragged in my own desk, I double-check everything at load out - full system up - to ensure the SE/HE can arrive the next show with everything nominal.  It ain't fair to disrupt their world and leave a heap of confusing crap behind...
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Sebastiaan Meijer

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Re: A few questions for BEs
« Reply #17 on: June 10, 2008, 06:28:02 pm »

The answer to the three first questions is too often YES, and the answer to the 4th question is really dependent on the venue / festival / provider / phase of the moon cycle / catering quality.

The better providers have systems that are fool-proof and thus are either correctly working or just off. System configuration and tuning are the next topic, and don't get me started....
Clubs with large staffs are usually the worst because nobody gives a sh...

S.
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Adam Robinson

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Re: A few questions for BEs
« Reply #18 on: June 10, 2008, 07:46:43 pm »

I'm the FOH engineer for a well established national act that does anywhere from small clubs (400ish) to large theatres (2500+).  I find that in most of the sub 1000-cap clubs I'm doing things like Bo mentioned...

Last October, I walked into an M1D rig that was all pinned at 0˚.  No wonder it was loud at the back of the room and quiet down front.  At another venue on the same run, we found the DSP to be set up completely wrong (DR 260) for the boxes.  The house guy was very interested in learning and watching what I was doing, and because he was so cool all day, I left the settings for him to try out on his own shows (if the audio crew person(s) is a jerk or some other similar expletive, I don't leave my settings for them).  

I can think of several occasions where I've rewired amp racks to make them work properly.  Just a couple months ago, while walking a rig at a festival we were headlining, I found that the subs on the left side were outputting the low-mid band, which meant that a couple of the low mids in the line array boxes weren't even plugged in!  Oh, and I can't even count the times I've properly splayed 850s.  

I thankfully have the luxury of just mixing and not having other show-day responsibilities, carrying our own consoles, mic stands, cables, etc., and thanks to an intricate lighting rig, having a decent amount of time to load-in, so thankfully I do not have to deal with malfunctioning FOH gear -- it gives me more time to focus on getting the PA to sound the best it can.

Regardless of what size venue we're all at, I always walk in with a positive attitude, even when faced with a veritable pile of audio dog sh*t.  I treat the house crew like I would want to be treated and hope that it gets far with them.  We're all there to accomplish the same goal (I hope) and when you take that attitude, most of the grizzed, difficult house guys will warm up a bit.


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Alan Singfield

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Re: A few questions for BEs
« Reply #19 on: June 11, 2008, 03:27:23 pm »

Matthew Whitman wrote on Sun, 08 June 2008 18:40

Greetings,

I have a few questions for BEs traveling with national acts.

1. Do you ever find yourself helping SEs troubleshoot their systems?  If so, how often?


It's always wise to work with the SE, and it gives you the opportunity to assess their level of knowledge

Quote:

 2. Has troubleshooting ever taken time you needed for more critical tasks?


Often, but when you consider the amount of things that can go wrong and the lack of resources available to the suppliers, it's not that often.

Quote:

3. Have you ever found yourself discovering problems that you felt should have already been dealt with by the SE and/or sound company?


Occasionally, although this is often met with the response that it was "working fine yesterday". sometimes that's actually true.

Quote:

4. Do you find that SEs generally take a proactive role in problem solving, or do they allow you to diagnose/fix problems?


Generally i find they act within their capabilities and given the resources available to them. A little time spent establishing the situation will save a lot of time complaining that something isn't to your satisfaction, only to find that the SE is powerless to do anything about it.
Due to the extremely poor wages so prevalent in our industry, a lot of SE/HE's are not necessarily very experienced, have no formal training, so it achieves nothing if you have the attitude that everything should be perfect all the time and cause a fuss if it isn't. It would be great if every show i did had the correct system with the correct deployment, an xl4 and all my favourite toys, but they don't.

When i'm not on tour i work as a SE/HE in a few venues which are reasonably well equipped, but BE's can still usually find something to complain about. Well, yes, i'd like a new speaker system too, and a fancier desk, and all your favourite microphones, and that expensive piece of outboard you can't possibly do the show without but didn't bring with you, but i don't have them, so why mention it?
(not to mention the amount of times we have provided "vital" pieces of equipment that i have subsequently had to teach the BE how to use)
One of the venues i work for is sensible enough to view the production side of the business as a way of making money, rather than a cost to be endured, but they still aren't too keen on spending it. The perfect world scenario of a full production tour is just not realistic in venues with house systems, usually down to monetary restraints, whether that be an unwillingness to spend a hundred thousand on a new speaker system, to being unwilling to spend a few hours labour for the SE to carry out basic maintenance and repair.

Having said all that, if a system engineer on a production tour wasn't doing their job to at least a satisfactory degree, as a BE i would be pushing to have them replaced with someone who could, as quickly as possible.

Just some thoughts from both sides of the fence.

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Alan Singfield

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Re: A few questions for BEs
« Reply #19 on: June 11, 2008, 03:27:23 pm »


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