The line check. It’s one of those things that most sound people know they should do, or at least would like to have time to do, but often fail to get around to actually doing.
Getting a line check done before the band arrives has saved me on several occasions.
Not getting it done has cost us time (and when I say us, I mean the tech team, the band, the producer and everyone else in the room).
So what is a line check? Just like it sounds, it’s a time to check each line from the stage to the soundboard (and back, if you have wired monitors).
There are many ways to do it, and I’ll outline a few here. What’s really important is that you check each line, from it’s beginning—be that a mic, a DI or instrument cable—to the end, the sound board.
You’re checking not only that signal is passing correctly, but that each line is appearing where you expect it to on the board. In larger systems, or for those with digital consoles, this is important.
Line checks are always easiest when performed with 2 people (with one über-geeky exception, noted below). When we finish our setup each week, normally either/or our front of house engineer will go the board, while the other stands on stage. We will typically work from one side of the stage to the other, checking everything in our path.
For us that means we start with the drums. I’ll get down on my hands and knees (hey, I didn’t say doing a line check was glamorous…) and I’ll shout into the kick mic. Then I’ll shout into the snare mic, the bottom snare mic, the hat mic, etc.
I say shout intentionally because we have gates on all our drum mics. Simply talking often won’t pass a signal, and it’s tough to see if they’re working or not.
Normally, I’ll say the name of the mic I’m shouting into to double check that we’re dealing with the same mic. We don’t often patch the snare mic into the kick channel, but it’s happened, especially with new guys.
So while I’m yelling, “KICK, KICK, KICK,” the engineer is cuing the kick channel and hearing my voice. All is well. Testing vocal mics is easier, normally I’ll just say (in a normal voice), “worship leader, worship leader.”