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Old Soundman: Helping A Newbie Properly Spec A System
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Old Soundman,

Welcome, LL!

Please help, I currently run sound for an eight-piece group that includes a three-piece horn section.

My problem is not getting a good clear sound; either I get the rhythm section to sound good, and the vocals and horns sound like crap, or vice-versa. Whenever any one group sounds good, the others don’t.

I have sermonized about this before! Were you playing hooky that day or what?

What you are facing is a need to ruthlessly prioritize. What is the most important thing in the band to amplify? Okay, put that up.

What is the next most important thing? Now put that up.

Continue in that mode until – and this is very important – things start sounding cluttered and unclear. Then back up, back to the point when it was still clear, and stop right there! I don’t care if you are quivering with frustration! I don’t care if your fists are clenched and you are hyperventilating! Bite the bullet!

This is reality. This is where you are right now in your life as a soundman. You have “x” amount of speakers, you have “y” amount of amps, and x plus y is only ever going to equal x plus y!

Yeah, I know you wish you had some big arena rig, but you don’t! Every guy down at the lake in his bass boat wishes he had an 80-foot yacht like an international arms dealer, but he doesn’t! He has his little putt-putt, and LL, that’s okay!

I use a (mixing board deleted) a (brand name deleted) 31 band EQ, (efx boxes deleted) for effects, (popular low-priced amp manufacturer deleted) for mids and highs (set at 50 percent) (popular mid-priced amp manufacturer deleted) for lows, (budget name) xover (lows set at 200 Hz) mid/hi set to (2000 Hz) Speakers are (manufacturer name and model number deleted).

When in the world are you sound children going to listen to the old man here? No brand names! No brand names!

I cannot comment on brands. I am your only recourse in a world full of hype and co-opted cretins who are constantly getting kickbacks from sound companies and manufacturers. Everybody wants to sell you something except me!

Now look at LL’s next sentence, this is something I can respond to.

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