Month: December 2014

Sound Design Live – Darryn De La Soul

Sound Design Live is a website dedicated to revealing the most helpful strategies and information for success in the audio industry. It is run by Nathan Lively who is a sound designer and engineer.

Many interesting posts are put up to help people out in the audio industry as well as interviews with professionals currently working in the live sound industry.

This is an audio interview that I found, which is very helpful, especially for up and coming live sound engineers.

Here’s a quick insight to the interviewee:

Darryn De La Soul is a live sound engineer who has over 10 years experience in the live sound industry. As well as sound engineering, she heads a resource centre and agency, which specialises in career management of live sound engineers.

This interview shows how she got to where she is today, the realities of starting as a live sound engineer, in addition to giving useful tips and advice.

Here are some of the quotes that were highlighted from the interview, which describes what being a live sound engineer is really like:

  • “ Nothing is ever advertised. Most of it is word of mouth” 
  • The only way to make money is in the live sound industry” 
  • “It’s a very lonely job. You’re on your own.” 
  • “People management is a massive part of this job. If you struggle with that, you will struggle with the job.”

Here is the whole SoundCloud interview. The points covered are in the first half of the interview up to around 22:30. So if you’re starting out with live sound engineering and have 20 minutes to spare, it’s well worth a listen.

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Setting Up the live drum kit at Upper Brown Street

In the latest live music engineering lesson, the focus was on setting up and miking up a drum kit. Miking up and sound checking a drum kit is one of the most time consuming parts to engineering a live band.

A key part that was learnt from the lesson was organisation of time; with miking up the drum kit efficiently and safely.

Here are some points that I learnt about miking the drum kit. Some of them I already new, but were made a lot more obvious in a live sound situation.

  • The Bass drum mic should be close to the bass drum, as to get a better sound and for the stand to take up as less a room a room as possible.

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  • The hi-hat microphone should be a condenser rather than a dynamic microphone and should face the opposite end to where the drum is sitting of the hi-hat as to capture a more crisp sound, when the hi-hat opens and closes.

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  • The overhead microphones should be aiming at the cymbals rather than capturing the whole drum kit.

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  • The microphone cables should not be strained at any point, as it is a safety hazard. They instead should be wrapped around the mic stands, looped neatly near the mic stands, and slack from the mic stand to the power source as to create a safer and more efficient way of using the microphones.

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Sound check at The Donkey

The Donkey is a small pub around the south of Leicester. The pub has only one room where the bar is as well as the stage, which takes up about a quarter of the room itself.

The gig was set to start at 9:00pm so the sound check was started at 7:00pm. The gig consisted of three acts. The opening act was that of an acoustic guitar player singing, then a two-piece band with one playing an electro-acoustic guitar as well as singing and the other playing a cello. The headlining band was a five-piece folk band, which had lead singer (playing a bouzouki and a violin) two backing singers (one playing an electro-acoustic guitar and the other playing an electric keyboard), a drummer and a bassist.

As the engineer it’s helpful to known who is playing as microphones and amps can be set-up before the bands arrive. In this case there were three vocalists so three microphones were placed at the front of the stage.

The first to be sound checked was the headlining band, which arrived first to the venue. The sound engineer greeted them and introduced himself with a smile on his face. This was shown as an example of how to make a good first impression with the performers. It’s important to do this because as the sound engineer you want to get along with the performers so that sound checking becomes easier for both parties. In addition to introducing yourself, there’s also the case of talking and making sure everything is good for the performer whilst sound checking to make sure everything is just as the performer wants so they are comfortable and sound the best they can.

One thing that is essential when sound checking is the speed at which it is done. Having two hours before the doors open can go by quickly, so making sure everything is working and sounding good with time to spare makes running the sound a lot easier. The speed at which the sound check is done can be dependent on the band, with a more experienced and professional band knowing what they’re doing and knowing how they should sound compared to an amateur band, which might not know how things work.

The Stage before set up

The Stage before set up

The Allen & Heath PA20 mixing desk

The Allen & Heath PA20 mixing desk

The dbx DriveRack PX and  Chevon Research A3000 P.A. Power Amp

The dbx DriveRack PX and
Chevon Research A3000 P.A. Power Amp

3k Logic system X15 Mark 2 (stage right)

3k Logic system X15 Mark 2 (stage right)

3k Logic system X15 Mark 2 (stage left)

3k Logic system X15 Mark 2 (stage left)

Stage set up and ready

Stage set up and ready

WBL = 4 Hours