The Role of the Mix Engineer – Preparation
In reality, the role of any sound person with a professional outlook starts well before the performance, beginning with the planning of what’s needed for the gig. Depending on the type of PA gear you have, you may be able to scale the system to the venue or the type of act, so knowing the size and layout of the space you’ll be working in is always a distinct advantage. You should also have a contingency plan in case some key piece of equipment breaks down. You’ll earn extra points from the band if you can get them out of a fix of their own making, too.
Try to imagine what could go wrong and then figure out what else you need to take with you to get yourself out of trouble. chapter Even if you can no longer amplify the backline, you always need to have a backup strategy to provide vocal amplification—so long as you have that, the gig can be completed in some form.
It seems to be considered the sound person’s responsibility to be able to provide sundry small items that might be needed during the gig, such as spare instrument cables, mains extension cables and distribution boards for the backline, spare batteries for pedals and radio mics, and of course plenty of gaffa tape. It doesn’t hurt to keep a pack of guitar strings or two in your bag, too, just in case. That’s in addition to the PA essentials such as spare mics and stand clips, XLR cables, and an emergency tool kit and torch for running repairs! Complete ‘roadie’ tools sets are available that cover most eventualities, including suitable wrenches for adjusting guitar bridges or locking nuts. But even if you are a band that doesn’t have an engineer, mixing yourselves from the stage, it helps if one individual takes responsibility for ensuring that the ‘spares’ requirements are covered.
I can’t stress too highly that mains cables should be inspected regularly and appropriately tested, and using your own mains socket tester and RCD circuit breaker provides an extra layer of safety against electric shocks.
Excerpt from The SOS Guide to Live Sound by Paul White © 2014 Taylor & Francis Group. All Rights Reserved.
About the Author
Paul White is Editor-In-Chief of Sound On Sound. Trained in electronics, he has been recording music since the 1970s. He also performs and mixes live gigs, and is the author of a number of music recording textbooks.