Learning Live Sound Production (part 3)

My second time out with Dave Hill was at the Medina. This venue is a Minnesota tradition, with over 50 years of great live music, artists such as Alice Cooper, Pat Benatar, Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash have all performed there.

Dave Hill and I met at the Medina at the same start time as my first show, 3pm. When I arrived Dave had already powered up the stage. The live sound production went almost exactly the same as the first, detailed here. I will describe just the differences between the shows.

At this event we had a Hammond organ with Leslie speaker and he showed me the proper way to mic it.

Leslie Speaker

Example of a Leslie speaker

The Medina’s Grand Ballroom is much larger than Bunker’s, therefore the front-of-house mix is slightly different, but the soundcheck procedure is still the same. Dave also reiterated a point he made at Bunker’s, that the acoustics change once the audience fills up. The sound is absorbed by the audience, hence less reflective. Keep this in mind when the band is asking for you to turn up the volume on their foldback monitors, because they probably do need it.

The last difference to mention is the headliner was Bruce McCabe. Again the bands thanked Dave and I for providing them with “perfect sound”. The bands rocked and the fans screamed and danced until they fell over from exhaustion (literally someone did!). This was a night I will never forget.

To end this series detailing my live sound production experience, in Part 4 I will write about my first time as the monitor engineer and my first as front-of-house engineer!


Learning Live Sound Production (part 2)

We began with setting up the foldback (on stage) monitors, mics and cabling. He stressed the need to arrange the cables in a clean, out of the way manner. It helps with avoiding anyone tripping over and any accidental unplugging during the show. And as a bonus, it makes the band look better in pictures.

When the stage was finished Dave and I went to the foldback mixer. Here we connected and labelled the mixer for the performers monitors. Then we went to the front-of-house (main) mixer. Again, we connected and labelled everything. Once that was complete, it was time for a bite to eat. During this meal, Dave talked of his live production work and tours with Phil Collins, Genesis and the 10,000 Lakes Festivals.

Around 18:00, band members started to arrive and we began soundcheck for the headliner, Summit Ave. Dave showed me how to set levels of the instruments, starting with the drums. Next, he had me watch him set levels for the foldback monitors. I then walked around the venue to listen for all the instruments and Dave adjusted the front-of-house mix to my recommendations. 🙂

Following that, we checked levels of the foldback mix then the front-of-house for the opening bands, one of which was Umphrey’s McGee. Fortunately the front-of-house mixer was a Midas Venice 320, we had plenty of channels to have the headliner on the left-hand side and the openers to the right. Each with their own mix levels.

Finally after soundcheck, there was about an hour of social time and one more shot of whiskey and water. Remember to just sip it, as stated in the first post (Part 1).

It’s SHOWTIME! Everything went without a hitch! The bands were happy and complimented Dave and I with the way everything sounded.

“Dave Hill is one of the best live engineers in the city. We love Dave!”

In Part 3, I detail the events at the Medina Grand Ballroom.