How many times have you heard this phrase: “If we had a digital sound board, we could save so much time on sound checks and it would sound the same every week.”
Or this one: “We have a digital board, so why does my monitor mix change every week?”
Or my personal favorite: “Are the sound guys not saving the settings each week, because it’s so different every weekend…”
These questions and comments have one thing in common—they all assume sound is an electrical process that, once converted to bits is entirely reproducible week after week.
Sorry to dash your hopes, but nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is that sound is a physical process that happens to have an electrical and digital component.
The real reason the mix doesn’t sound the same this week as it did last week is simple. Today is not last week. Here’s what I mean.
Sound, being a physical process, is subject to the physical world. Last week was warmer or colder than this week. The humidity was different. The strings on the guitar were newer (or older if recently changed). The singer was more or less tired last week. The drum heads were tighter or looser.
You get the point. The fact is, then is not now.
I have seen mixes change dramatically from one service to the next, even though “nothing” had changed. In fact, everything has changed (well almost everything—we didn’t touch the electronics).