Recently, I was subjected to a strikingly dull conversation with a top touring mix engineer. He really didn’t seem to be into his job, or anything else for that matter.
Apparently, being behind that quarter-million dollar console out in an audience of thousands, mixing shows for that totally hot female star that everyone knows, just wasn’t cutting it for this guy. What? Sounds impossible, doesn’t it? Of course.
We’re blessed to belong to an industry that attracts passionate people from all walks of life. And interestingly, these friends, colleagues, mentors, idols, employees and industry stalwarts tend to have extracurricular pursuits and hobbies, too. Things they do that bring out almost the same level of passion from these folks as their work.
We all know of Dave Rat, of course. But did you know that he’s seriously into surfing? Even if not, this doesn’t come as a surprise, does it? It’s also obvious that he’s passionate about life in general, and looking at his professional success and that of his company, he’s an inspiration, right? Or how about Robert Scovill? I wonder how many of us could keep up with his physical training regimen. It’s truly a labor of love.
My point is that this industry needs people like Robert and Dave, and fortunately, they exist in spades, even if we don’t always know their names.
The In Crowd
Who wouldn’t want to be one of us, anyway? How many times have people stopped by the console and asked “Do you really know what all those knobs and buttons do?” Maybe they’re curious, and certainly they think they’re being funny and original. But really, a lot of them are in awe.
And what about the music itself? And the energy of the audience? It’s intoxicating. There’s a certain rush that happens just before the show starts. And that rush never gets old.
Sure, there’s tons of work (sometimes literally) behind the scenes, and extended periods of days, weeks, months and years on the road. But the payoff is pretty nice.
There’s something more to the equation, isn’t there? Why do so many people in our business have a fondness for fast cars? I think part of it has to do with a love of the power with precision. Doesn’t this also define a well-conceived sound reinforcement system? Enough power for a massive explosion, but coaxed by our careful ears, minds and hands into delivering to the masses one of mankind’s best products: music.
So what’s involved with being “all in,” audio professional style? First, we have to be ready to absorb and understand quite a few important basic concepts. And many of them are counter-intuitive or at least not obvious on the surface.
Take decibels. for example. It’s one thing to understand the concept, but have you ever tried explaining it to a lay person? Or the inverse square law, for another quick example.