Sound engineering (or, the job of making musicians sound great) looks and sounds all hi-techy and digital, but is in fact an art form. People tend to overlook the importance of a quality sound system and an experienced, trustworthy sound engineer. It is essentially the make-or-break of the quality of your event from the entertainment perspective. A wonderful performer, function band or orchestra can literally sound awful if the overall sound output quality and setup are poor. A lot of thought, calculations and preparations go into each concert or show played. Different engineers will have different work methods, ideas and ways of doing things, still, there are some key points to look at when searching for the best overall sound setup and personnel:
Getting the right equipment is important. Microphones, cables, mixers, speakers, monitors – The list goes on and on, and as you can imagine all of the above can cost some big money. There will forever be as many opinions about which brands to use as there are engineers, but either way, it is vital to test-out quality before buying. There are bargains out there, but cut corners in the wrong place and your overall mix output may suffer the consequences. In the same way, you may own a system of £20,000 worth but without the knowledge it may still sound noisy, buzzy and over-modulated in which case ears would bleed and if a £20,000 worth sound system could cry in pain, it would!
An engineer’s natural ear is something money cannot buy. You are either born with it or you’re not. If you go to an event and the band sounds not only exquisite but also delightful to your ears, you are probably facing the art form of masterful sound engineering. Find an engineer with a sensitive musical ear, developed by the right amount of education and field experience – And you’ve got yourself a winner.
Never underestimate the experience of a sound engineer. Most amateurs would find their way around two speakers connected to a basic mixing desk. If you really want your event to sound amazing and your guests to be blown away? Our best advice would be – Don’t settle. Field experience with a wide range of equipment, facing real-time challenges, overcoming power drops and setup malfunctions are all part of the craft. An experienced sound engineer will know the ins and outs of field operations and will have a deep understanding of acoustics, EQing and equipment limits.
Some sound engineers will expand their expertise to provide lighting solutions. If you find an engineer that can put some lights up to enhance the performance area then you’ve got yourself a lovely deal. However, being that lighting and visuals is an entirely separate entity to the world of sound and a different artform altogether, it is important to work with engineers that have prior experience in lighting. As you would regarding your sound, you’d want to hire someone who knows which gear to use and has both made significant efforts in learning the craft and hopefully had experience in lighting larger-scale events and dealing with real-time lighting.
Health & Safety
The level of responsibility expected of an engineer while dealing with heavy gear and messing with electricity is not to be undermined. It is vital your engineer is trustworthy, fully insured and hopefully comes with a set of referrals from previous clients and/or former employers. The ever so important goal of reaching the perfect sound setup is not to come on the expense of the audiences’ safety. Engineers must adhere to level-control guidelines in order to protect the audience’s hearing, as well as keeping their workspace and the venue tidy and safe, with speakers and light stands positioned out of harm’s way and cables either tucked away or properly taped to the floor outside of main paths and walkways.
Whichever way you choose to go with your sound setup, never hesitate to contact an expert. We are here for whatever consultation or advice you may need. Keep us in the loop!