quick reference


Look before twiddling
If any EQ knob is turned more than 90° off center, or a volume knob is turned as far as it will go in either direction - watch out! Settings like this usually mean that something else is wrong, and you just haven't spotted it yet. Look for partially plugged-in cables, check major switches on the mixer, etc.

Most problems of sound being difficult to hear are really volume-related. Start by getting the overall volume right, and then the mix, before you spend a whole lot of time playing with finepoints on the tone controls. The best EQ is no EQ - pros use as little as possible, often cutting rather than boosting.

It's critical to have the sound level in the hall at just the right overall volume. If it's too loud, it will be boomy, muddy and echoey. If it's too soft, it gets submerged in shuffling feet and crowd noise, and lacks excitement, even with the best band.

Some halls are just too reverberent. If the sound is muddy, cut the loudest thing on stage, and then judge the overall volume. The best thing to do is focus on overall volume. Try setting everyone to the same level (except for very quiet or very loud instruments) and just varying the overall volume, and you'll get surprisingly close to the best mix.

Finally, remember your obligation to protect the hearing of those present. Very loud sound will be exciting for some people, but painful for others.

Your presence
Relax. Easy-going humor can be a big help. Make sure it's not sarcasm, but honest, simple, harmless humor. It relaxes everyone and lets them and you do the best job possible. When in doubt, a plain smile is always in style.