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Author Topic: Thanks PSW for helping so much.  (Read 1371 times)

Glenn James

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  • Darwin, Australia
Thanks PSW for helping so much.
« on: August 21, 2011, 03:46:20 am »

I would like to start this by saying I have always felt I have a much better than average understanding of things audio related. I dont know it all but try and learn and improve every opportunity I get.
Most shows I do usually involve a detailed rider and stage plot and things are very organised.
I set up the equipment as per the plots and input schedule and the tech(s) for the act will make the small adjustments to the system layout as necessary and their mixing guys will came in and tune to their taste during sound check. Apart from the occasional query from an engineer I have never run the FOH desk myself and have organised somebody with experience (who hopefully hasnt been awake for the last 20 or more hours like myself at this time of the show) to run FOH.
Yesterday was different for a whole heap of reasons.
10 days or so ago I was called by a committee member of a local community group to provide equipment for a large event. They forwarded a quote from another supplier which detailed the equipment used last year and asked for me to provide similar gear except for instruments and backline which the band would supply because this year the act was locally sourced.
I asked a few questions about the quote and found they required a person to do the mix for 12 hours finishing at 2AM. The quote for last year only had 20 man hours aatached to it which included setup and tear down so it wasnt possible to have actually stayed within that time line. I estimated they would have been charged minimum 8 to 10 hours overtime labour which would have been back doored on the end of the final bill.
My estimate was $1000.00 or so more than the far more established local company so I kind of expected  that would be the end of proceedings.
A day or two later they called and said they really only need the PA and mixer and the band would provide everything else. All of a sudden my high labour costs vanished and I was able to offer the show at a much more attractive price than previously and still maintain all of my profit. Perfect. Adjusted quote sent and accepted just a few minutes later. I would be providing my time during sound check and leaving once the show was underway, returning to pick up my equipment at 2AM at the planned finish time.
Being used to having everything in writing at an early stage of the game, I was really starting to feel the need to actually speak with a member of the band and double check what was actually required. Good thing I did.
Extras after a short conversation that needed to be included were drum mics, 5 monitors, 3 DI channels, mic stands and all on stage mic, line etc cabling. I expected to need some of this and would have brought most along with the exception of the monitors anyway. Also means I could on charge these axtras and was assured that would be OK. A band member was to be there at 3PM so I could have a hand with the setup and place the stage layout like he had in his mind.
I arrive at 3PM as planned (right on the dot) and drive up to the stage. The drum kit is in place sans cymbals and although not large the space is adequate and I have worked with worse. The man I have spoken with on the phone is there and we begin to set up. Somewhere in the interpretation he has decided the whole band needed to be there and a couple of them werent happy about being there so early before the start of show, and wanted to sound check before the gear was even unloaded. A couple of them told me what they wanted and left and only returned at 8PM for their gig.
The monitors I brought with me also had to double for the bass, keyboard and guitar amps, because they didnt bring theirs. Done, no problem.
I found out at 5PM or so thay the first two hours of the show were for pre recorded music to play on the CD player I was specifically told I didnt need to bring and the band would be starting at 8PM. An elcheapo portable DVD player supplied by the client was patched in and made the worst hum I have ever come across. Somebody had a laptop in their car and we used that instead. Still sounded like hell with transport noise etc but client insisted it was fine for what they required. I just closed my ears while that was playing.
I decided the most time efficient way to get the band up and running was to ignore the monitor mix for now and get the instruments sounding right at FOH. I nearly lost it at this point because of course everybody is the most important person in their own eyes at this part of the show. The musicians swapped instruments with each other and each gave advice as to how they wanted to sound while standing at FOH. Within about 20 minutes they were all happy with the results. Straight after this the recorded music started, the band went home to change and I could sit at the console and organise my monitor mixes. Also time for some food and a vist to check the plumbing.
I was glad to have brick wall limiters on my amp racks because the guy doing the CDs was running the system so hard. Each song sounded so different. I think some recordings were etched in stone and remastered in four analogue formats before being dubbed several times then played through a guitar amp at the opposite end to the cave to the recording microphone before being burned to CD. But they were traditional songs and thats how they sound.......
The band took to the stage about 8.15 and were all trying to get me to adjust this or that at the same time as each other. Within 5 minutes I had them mostly happy with their monitors and was only making small adjustments. Some trusted members of the crowd were identified and made some decisions on behalf of the band members regarding the mix levels of various instruments. The singer arrived at 9PM and I plugged his wireless Shure in to the system. Quick level check and brought him into the mix. Luckily he sounded good straight away. Crowd memebers once again helped get the level right by using up, down and stop gestures. The mix was being done from on the stage if you hadnt already guessed.
The other singer (surprise!) and fiddler (surprise!) arrived about 9.30. Plugged in their equipment (sorry mr fiddler, you will have to stand right next to the mixing desk, I have no more DI left for you) and were also brought in to the mix. Monitor levels were once again adjusted and everybody was happy.
There were compliments from every direction regardin how patient I had been with the band and how great they were sounding campared to every other year. They were so happy and had everything they wanted. I had some language barriers with most of the performers so patience was necessary for all of us.
I finally got a chance to go FOH and have a listen. Something was missing. They loved the sound, and it was very similar to the more modern recordings from earlier. I have just realised I didnt switch the phantom power for the overhead drum mics and the only cymbal I was getting was washed from the toms. I made some adjustments but I just couldnt bring them into the mix like I wanted to without introducing feedback. Too late and I will do better next time.
I left them to play out their sets, 4 hours later than my planned exit time. I was happy to have done as well as I had. My experience in this field has never been so hands on as there has always been a crew around for the performers who work with them every night.
I had the gig sounding much like it should have for performers I had never met, had difficulty communicating with and for a musical style I am not familiar with.
So thank you PSW, members and contributors whose input and experiences I have read absolutely made me feel as confident as I could in an unfamiliar situation and turned this from the gig from hell to a successful night for all.
I arrived at 2AM to find the whole place packed up, band gone, tables stacked and most lights turned off. Police had arrived at midnight and made them turn it down. Most patrons left at 12.30 because if its not ear bleeding loud, its time to go home. The stage looked like hell and the sound equipment was left lay where it fell. Took about an hour to roll cables and pack the truck. Delivered some equipment to a hotel with 24 hour reception for a regular dry hire client and made it home at 4AM.

Thing I have learned from this in no particular order.
Get as much time as possible for sound check.
Know exactly who is playing what instrument and what they will be bringing with them.
Make sure the guy responsible has your phone number so when they finish early you can start packing up.
The customer does not know how to use a mixer. You really should have somebody there for the entire show.
Place mixer where you can reach without tripping over band.
Bring a CD player.
Bring more DI.
Keep smiling, otherwise it will get worse.
Get your truck out before the patrons arrive or the driveway will be blocked.
Speak with somebody from the band as early as possible and make sure they tell you about ALL of their performers.
Get a schedule from the organiser.
Turn the bloody phantom power on!
Bring more mic stands and spare mics. (didnt need this time, but good to remember)
If you look somebody in the eye and pretend you are doing what they ask while touching the mixer, they will magically hear a difference.
iPod cable
Tape and marker pen for mixer inputs strip.
You can never be too familiar with your mixer.
Watch Presonus Youtube videos like its a religion.
Dont rely on Presonus presets for traditional instruments. They want them to sound thin and shrill. Its deliberate.
They are paying the bill, make it sound like they want.

And dont forget good luck and have fun. ( I stole that from other members)
« Last Edit: August 21, 2011, 03:49:08 am by Glenn James »
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Stu McDoniel

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  • Central Wisconsin...USA
Re: Thanks PSW for helping so much.
« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2011, 09:59:51 pm »

I would like to start this by saying I have always felt I have a much better than average understanding of things audio related. I dont know it all but try and learn and improve every opportunity I get.
Most shows I do usually involve a detailed rider and stage plot and things are very organised.
I set up the equipment as per the plots and input schedule and the tech(s) for the act will make the small adjustments to the system layout as necessary and their mixing guys will came in and tune to their taste during sound check. Apart from the occasional query from an engineer I have never run the FOH desk myself and have organised somebody with experience (who hopefully hasnt been awake for the last 20 or more hours like myself at this time of the show) to run FOH.
Yesterday was different for a whole heap of reasons.
10 days or so ago I was called by a committee member of a local community group to provide equipment for a large event. They forwarded a quote from another supplier which detailed the equipment used last year and asked for me to provide similar gear except for instruments and backline which the band would supply because this year the act was locally sourced.
I asked a few questions about the quote and found they required a person to do the mix for 12 hours finishing at 2AM. The quote for last year only had 20 man hours aatached to it which included setup and tear down so it wasnt possible to have actually stayed within that time line. I estimated they would have been charged minimum 8 to 10 hours overtime labour which would have been back doored on the end of the final bill.
My estimate was $1000.00 or so more than the far more established local company so I kind of expected  that would be the end of proceedings.
A day or two later they called and said they really only need the PA and mixer and the band would provide everything else. All of a sudden my high labour costs vanished and I was able to offer the show at a much more attractive price than previously and still maintain all of my profit. Perfect. Adjusted quote sent and accepted just a few minutes later. I would be providing my time during sound check and leaving once the show was underway, returning to pick up my equipment at 2AM at the planned finish time.
Being used to having everything in writing at an early stage of the game, I was really starting to feel the need to actually speak with a member of the band and double check what was actually required. Good thing I did.
Extras after a short conversation that needed to be included were drum mics, 5 monitors, 3 DI channels, mic stands and all on stage mic, line etc cabling. I expected to need some of this and would have brought most along with the exception of the monitors anyway. Also means I could on charge these axtras and was assured that would be OK. A band member was to be there at 3PM so I could have a hand with the setup and place the stage layout like he had in his mind.
I arrive at 3PM as planned (right on the dot) and drive up to the stage. The drum kit is in place sans cymbals and although not large the space is adequate and I have worked with worse. The man I have spoken with on the phone is there and we begin to set up. Somewhere in the interpretation he has decided the whole band needed to be there and a couple of them werent happy about being there so early before the start of show, and wanted to sound check before the gear was even unloaded. A couple of them told me what they wanted and left and only returned at 8PM for their gig.
The monitors I brought with me also had to double for the bass, keyboard and guitar amps, because they didnt bring theirs. Done, no problem.
I found out at 5PM or so thay the first two hours of the show were for pre recorded music to play on the CD player I was specifically told I didnt need to bring and the band would be starting at 8PM. An elcheapo portable DVD player supplied by the client was patched in and made the worst hum I have ever come across. Somebody had a laptop in their car and we used that instead. Still sounded like hell with transport noise etc but client insisted it was fine for what they required. I just closed my ears while that was playing.
I decided the most time efficient way to get the band up and running was to ignore the monitor mix for now and get the instruments sounding right at FOH. I nearly lost it at this point because of course everybody is the most important person in their own eyes at this part of the show. The musicians swapped instruments with each other and each gave advice as to how they wanted to sound while standing at FOH. Within about 20 minutes they were all happy with the results. Straight after this the recorded music started, the band went home to change and I could sit at the console and organise my monitor mixes. Also time for some food and a vist to check the plumbing.
I was glad to have brick wall limiters on my amp racks because the guy doing the CDs was running the system so hard. Each song sounded so different. I think some recordings were etched in stone and remastered in four analogue formats before being dubbed several times then played through a guitar amp at the opposite end to the cave to the recording microphone before being burned to CD. But they were traditional songs and thats how they sound.......
The band took to the stage about 8.15 and were all trying to get me to adjust this or that at the same time as each other. Within 5 minutes I had them mostly happy with their monitors and was only making small adjustments. Some trusted members of the crowd were identified and made some decisions on behalf of the band members regarding the mix levels of various instruments. The singer arrived at 9PM and I plugged his wireless Shure in to the system. Quick level check and brought him into the mix. Luckily he sounded good straight away. Crowd memebers once again helped get the level right by using up, down and stop gestures. The mix was being done from on the stage if you hadnt already guessed.
The other singer (surprise!) and fiddler (surprise!) arrived about 9.30. Plugged in their equipment (sorry mr fiddler, you will have to stand right next to the mixing desk, I have no more DI left for you) and were also brought in to the mix. Monitor levels were once again adjusted and everybody was happy.
There were compliments from every direction regardin how patient I had been with the band and how great they were sounding campared to every other year. They were so happy and had everything they wanted. I had some language barriers with most of the performers so patience was necessary for all of us.
I finally got a chance to go FOH and have a listen. Something was missing. They loved the sound, and it was very similar to the more modern recordings from earlier. I have just realised I didnt switch the phantom power for the overhead drum mics and the only cymbal I was getting was washed from the toms. I made some adjustments but I just couldnt bring them into the mix like I wanted to without introducing feedback. Too late and I will do better next time.
I left them to play out their sets, 4 hours later than my planned exit time. I was happy to have done as well as I had. My experience in this field has never been so hands on as there has always been a crew around for the performers who work with them every night.
I had the gig sounding much like it should have for performers I had never met, had difficulty communicating with and for a musical style I am not familiar with.
So thank you PSW, members and contributors whose input and experiences I have read absolutely made me feel as confident as I could in an unfamiliar situation and turned this from the gig from hell to a successful night for all.
I arrived at 2AM to find the whole place packed up, band gone, tables stacked and most lights turned off. Police had arrived at midnight and made them turn it down. Most patrons left at 12.30 because if its not ear bleeding loud, its time to go home. The stage looked like hell and the sound equipment was left lay where it fell. Took about an hour to roll cables and pack the truck. Delivered some equipment to a hotel with 24 hour reception for a regular dry hire client and made it home at 4AM.

Thing I have learned from this in no particular order.
Get as much time as possible for sound check.
Know exactly who is playing what instrument and what they will be bringing with them.
Make sure the guy responsible has your phone number so when they finish early you can start packing up.
The customer does not know how to use a mixer. You really should have somebody there for the entire show.
Place mixer where you can reach without tripping over band.
Bring a CD player.
Bring more DI.
Keep smiling, otherwise it will get worse.
Get your truck out before the patrons arrive or the driveway will be blocked.
Speak with somebody from the band as early as possible and make sure they tell you about ALL of their performers.
Get a schedule from the organiser.
Turn the bloody phantom power on!
Bring more mic stands and spare mics. (didnt need this time, but good to remember)
If you look somebody in the eye and pretend you are doing what they ask while touching the mixer, they will magically hear a difference.
iPod cable
Tape and marker pen for mixer inputs strip.
You can never be too familiar with your mixer.
Watch Presonus Youtube videos like its a religion.
Dont rely on Presonus presets for traditional instruments. They want them to sound thin and shrill. Its deliberate.
They are paying the bill, make it sound like they want.

And dont forget good luck and have fun. ( I stole that from other members)
You forgot one VERY important thing here man....NEVER leave your system alone!  You are responsible in more ways then one and I myself dont trust anyone with my gear rented or not unless
I am around at the show to make sure the night goes smooth.   If you make enough money then
staying with your system is what you should think about.  Packed up in one hour? WOW ...
I wish I could say the same.  Best of luck to you mate from America
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Glenn James

  • Jr. Member
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  • Posts: 87
  • Darwin, Australia
Re: Thanks PSW for helping so much.
« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2011, 10:34:46 pm »

I have more than one system out at any one time so leaving them alone is necessary. The person organising the event was supposed to have an operator but that didnt end up happening.
Yeah actually managed to pack up 2 subs, 2 mains, 5 monitors, console, mic stands, wrap up all cables and pack it away in about an hour. Must have got a late night energy rush.
I learned more from this show than the last 20 combined and now I really feel prepared for anything thrown my way. And with the extras I have made a good return as well.
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ProSoundWeb Community

Re: Thanks PSW for helping so much.
« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2011, 10:34:46 pm »


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