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New to Live Sound and looking to get started in this wonderful industry!

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Tsun Gwing-Kai:
Greetings,

My name is Tsun Gwing-Kai and I'm located in the Midwest (but willing to travel to learn more about this industry).   I'm completely new to Live Sound and really want to get started working in the industry and learning more.  Although running a mixing console is still new to me...and I have very little real-world experience (took Jamie Anderson's SMAART Operator Fundamentals course in NYC as a starting point), I'm still astounded by the vast amount of knowledge necessary to put on a show & be successful.

So far all of my experience has been borrowing gear where I can, going to stores (such as Guitar Center) and asking to play with a console for an hour, trying to rent gear where I can, and understand the ins & outs of it.  I understand the difference between mic & line level, balanced & unbalanced, can pair a stage box using Dante Controller, but that's about it.  I don't have much hands-on experience short of throwing my own shows with friends that are interested in being "rock stars" but have never performed professionally.

My current PA consists of 2x QSC KW153 and some borrowed subs (sometimes JBL, McCauley, or whatever I can get my hands on, such as Yorkville or Peavey).  I don't have a DSP or crossover, but have borrowed DSPs ranging from Ashley to BSS Soundweb London (was super confusing to route & configure, I think I spent an hour getting that Blu-806DA to even pass audio!).  I'm not sure if I even need a DSP as the KW153's have crossover capabilities and so do many subs.  But I'd love to own one just to get my rig "dialed in".

I honestly don't know where to start short of having friends & neighbors that want to play.  I've hosted a few parties, mostly on private farm land, thanks to friends, and I was my own concert promoter.  Put up a few flyers and did some events for charity, got a bunch of kids to play, and mixed on my own.  Learned real fast that an SM58 needs to be high-passed and vocals need some compression.  Borrowed a tuning rig and that BSS DSP to learn how to delay/time align tops and subs for smooth response (still don't know enough about tuning, as it seems some seating locations sound super "hi-fi" and others sound like a disaster, especially on subs).

My goal is eventually to become a concert promoter because I love the music.  I don't know what mixing console to buy, I don't know if investing in lights & a big PA and a stage is worth it.  I currently pull everything behind my pickup truck which is about at max capacity on borrowed trailers.  My day job as a BSEE (have worked with building automation, HVAC, and facility lighting controls) has taught me a lot about troubleshooting, which ports over well to the Pro Sound world.

Is there any future in chasing this passion or am I another, probably one of many, rock star wannabes without the talent to carry through?  I've loaded up trailers, dragged boxes thru muddy grass, borrowed too many extension cords & generators just to be let down by too small a turnout.  But my friends support me, and I really love the music.

Would anyone have suggestions as to where I could learn, how I can get better, and be a pro in this industry?

FWIW, the local Performing Arts Center (community college) turned me down, stating that I have zero "experience".

Many thanks,

Tsun Gwing-Kai

Dave Pluke:

--- Quote from: Tsun Gwing-Kai on May 20, 2024, 06:32:18 PM ---My goal is eventually to become a concert promoter because I love the music.
--- End quote ---

In that case, you might be better served seeking out big money investors rather than local production gigs.


--- Quote from: Tsun Gwing-Kai --- I don't know what mixing console to buy, I don't know if investing in lights & a big PA and a stage is worth it.  I currently pull everything behind my pickup truck which is about at max capacity on borrowed trailers.
--- End quote ---

I'd suggest you rack up more experience rather than buying gear at this point. You may have to get your foot in the door by pushing boxes at events. Don't expect to walk straight into an A1 role or full production gig without both the resume and network of fellow professionals to support it.


--- Quote from: Tsun Gwing-Kai ---
My day job as a BSEE (have worked with building automation, HVAC, and facility lighting controls) has taught me a lot about troubleshooting, which ports over well to the Pro Sound world.
--- End quote ---

Agreed. Understanding Signal Flow and having good Troubleshooting skills are an asset.

Good luck in your journey,
Dave

Tsun Gwing-Kai:

--- Quote from: Dave Pluke on May 20, 2024, 07:09:55 PM ---In that case, you might be better served seeking out big money investors rather than local production gigs.

I'd suggest you rack up more experience rather than buying gear at this point. You may have to get your foot in the door by pushing boxes at events. Don't expect to walk straight into an A1 role or full production gig without both the resume and network of fellow professionals to support it.

Agreed. Understanding Signal Flow and having good Troubleshooting skills are an asset.

Good luck in your journey,
Dave

--- End quote ---

Thank you, Dave!  I’ve tried to get in at a few local venues but the lack of real-world experience is making them hesitant to even let me push boxes or coil cable.  Plus, being an electrical engineer means I’m on call with owners, architects, and trades, so it’s really hard to set aside the day gig to try and chase something I’m mildly interested in, but passionate about.

I took Pat Brown’s SynAudCon courses up to the 200 level and got kind of overloaded with info, thinking that I need more practice.  Every digital console seems different, every DSP seems different, and the lack of standards makes me more bewildered and lost at times when I can get an Ashly 3.6SP to pass audio fast, but a BSS unit takes me more time to figure out how to load the config file than to actually tweak the delays and levels.

My current truck is a Ford Ranger, I’ve beat it up doing my own gigs, and without the friends and farmers letting me use their space I’ve kind of hit a brick wall trying to get into the industry.  Reading books and watching YouTube can only get me so far.

Would it be worth renting an SQ-6 for a weekend just to learn how to “do it right” be even worthwhile or am I never going to learn effectively “by doing”?

Guitar Center in Rockford IL has one right now for $5k which I don’t feel comfortable spending, but I also don’t want to learn on a tricycle when the real players are running F-16’s.

Riley Casey:
hard to know where to start with a set of questions like this and I wouldn't for an instant try to address anything even remotely related to concert promotion. Thats a pit of snakes I've worked hard for decades to avoid. One overarching observation I would make about buying anything without a background in this business is that skills increase in value the longer you have them and the harder you put them to work while equipment is worth less every moment you have it and the harder you put it to work. Be very sure you have the skills before you buy the gear. Otherwise what looks like a business can very quickly become just an expensive hobby.

Tsun Gwing-Kai:

--- Quote from: Riley Casey on May 20, 2024, 07:45:46 PM ---hard to know where to start with a set of questions like this and I wouldn't for an instant try to address anything even remotely related to concert promotion. Thats a pit of snakes I've worked hard for decades to avoid. One overarching observation I would make about buying anything without a background in this business is that skills increase in value the longer you have them and the harder you put them to work while equipment is worth less every moment you have it and the harder you put it to work. Be very sure you have the skills before you buy the gear. Otherwise what looks like a business can very quickly become just an expensive hobby.

--- End quote ---

Thank you for the honest input.  When you say “pit of snakes”, are you referring to the promoters, or the culture?  I’ve done free events and occasionally promote a charity, but have not had any negative feedback when I go to post a flyer or talk about what I’m hosting.

I realize it would be dumb to purchase an L’Acoustics rig, DigiCo console, and high-end gear, but it is what I see people running so I am curious.  Right now I don’t even know how to mix monitors, I just give every musician their own powered wedge and face it at them.

It’s probably the wrong way to do it, but it works, and the powered speaker (whether it be a Behringer or Mackie or QSC) does its own processing and I just send it everything else with the mics turned down on the back, using the built in mixer on the box.  QSC K12.2 is great for this as it has a 3 channel “monitor mixer” built in hence I’ve never had to do anything on the main board.

Most of the stagehands here are Union, which I don’t even know where the hall is, and seem like they have to put in a certain number of hours to be full time.  I wonder if there is an IATSE group for part timers or newbies like myself.

The best I’ve gotten so far is “find a gig at a bar or club helping set up” but even those gigs are far and few in between.  I have a friend who’s a software developer at John Deere, and he DJs at a small bar, but even then he said “a sound tech is rarely around” and he runs his own shows.

I hope there is a way into live sound that can allow a day job and not just be a hobby, but I might be at a loss.  It seems like you have to start young, and I’ve already lost the “golden years” of being able to find my passion, being mid-career and decades out of school.

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