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The 4 Secrets to an Excellent Soundcheck: Tips from a Pro Sound Engineer

One of the greatest benefits of the Mason Music community is the wealth of knowledge that exists in our teacher team and studio staff. As real, performing artists and music industry professionals ourselves, we know how much wisdom can be gleaned from other musicians in the industry. Today, we are bringing to you some tips and tricks from Drew Swindle, our operations manager by day, and an expert sound engineer pretty much any other waking moment. If you’ve been to the Woodlawn Theatre or any shows at the Avondale Upstairs recently, you’ve likely heard how incredible his work is. Take a look at Drew’s suggestions to NAIL your next sound check!

how to nail your next soundcheck

1. BE ON TIME: The Foundation of a Smooth Soundcheck

  • Short Window of Time: Often, multiple bands have only a couple of hours before the doors open to prepare. Being punctual is crucial not just for your band but for all others involved.
  • Sharing Gear: In smaller venues, sharing gear is common to facilitate band changeovers and accommodate limited stage space. If you’re providing shared gear, being on time is vital to keep the show running smoothly.
  • Soundcheck Time: The more time you have for soundcheck, the better your performance will be. Use this time wisely to iron out any issues and ensure your comfort on stage. Being on time for soundcheck is essential for a successful show.

2. BE PREPARED: Maximize Your Efficiency

  • Utilize Downtime: Don’t waste time chatting or grabbing drinks when it’s not your turn. Make sure your gear is ready to go, such as staged drums and tuned guitars, so you can swiftly get on stage and perform.
  • Stay Focused: During soundcheck, concentrate on making your band sound great in the venue rather than showcasing your skills. Avoid noodling or rehearsing – it’s time to fine-tune your sound.
  • Know Your Gear: Ensure that all your equipment is in proper working order, and set it up efficiently. Consider using pedalboards or other tools to expedite setup and teardown. Adjust your gear for the specific venue to optimize sound quality.

3. REMAIN FLEXIBLE: Adapt to Changing Circumstances

  • Sharing Equipment: Depending on the venue’s size and band lineup, you might not always get to use your kit. Be flexible and focus on what’s best for everyone involved, keeping the show running smoothly.
  • Shifting Times: Be prepared for last-minute changes to the schedule due to unforeseen circumstances. Flexibility is key to adapt to unexpected time shifts.
  • Stage Plot Changes: Sometimes, the venue or other bands’ setups may necessitate changes to your stage plot. Be open to adjustments for the benefit of everyone involved.
  • Facility Backline Accommodations: If the venue provides backline gear, work with what’s available or bring your own. Adapt to the gear at hand to ensure a smooth performance.

4. TRUST YOUR SOUND ENGINEER: A Crucial Partnership

  • Mixing Engineer vs. Balance Engineer: Understand the importance of balance in live sound. The Front-of-House (FOH) engineer’s role is to make your band sound its best.
  • Listen to the FOH Engineer: Cooperate with the FOH engineer by following their suggestions. Adjusting volume levels and watching your instrument’s sound are essential for a balanced and cohesive performance.
  • Consistency Is Key: Avoid making last-minute changes between soundcheck and the show. Keep the FOH engineer informed if you must adjust something. This consistency ensures a harmonious performance.
  • Communication Is Vital: If you can’t hear yourself during the show, communicate with the FOH engineer. Avoid cranking up equipment from the stage, as it can disrupt the overall balance and sound quality.

A big thanks to Drew Swindle for these incredible sound check tips! You will definitely be every sound engineer’s favorite performer if you utilize these tips and tricks. To learn more from other industry experts, be sure to check out ROCKSHOP, the workshop made for future rockstars.