3 Tricky Situations You’ll Recognise If You’re A Sound Engineer
A career many of us dream of having, but not one so easily achieved. Once you’ve reached professional level as a sound engineer, whether in live or studio environments, you take on a job that although unquestionably rewarding, has its own unique set of challenges. At Flightcase Warehouse we work closely with sound engineers and below are just 3 of the situations we hear time and time again! Work in the industry and have anything to add? Let us know! (P.s, this article was actually written by a musician!)
1. (Some) musicians live to make life harder than it has to be
Live engineers suffer this pain too, but it’s mainly reserved for the talent in the studio. Mainly stemming from the fact that pretty much anybody can rent themselves a few hours in a recording studio (as well as your time, if they appreciate an expert input), many sound engineers have swapped cringe-worthy stories of the misguided, misinformed musician that can walk into the recording booth.
Sound engineers have inevitably heard the following: ‘Don’t worry, I tuned last night before I got here’, ‘these strings were fresh on last week, they’re ready to go!’ Or the inevitable ‘I’m almost ready, just let me warm up first’. More often than not, these tiny niggles can be dealt with in either a few minutes but it’s not the severity of the infraction; it’s the number of them.
We’ve also heard that that when a musician isn’t finding fault with their own performance, they’re finding fault with your mix. Many first-timers in the studio (or even the more seasoned musician) have never heard a genuinely professional mix and are thus questioning your every technical, informed move. When engineers have sank hours of hard work into equalising a mix and then you are asked to use more plugins, or scoop the mids, or even change their recording through effects, it’s hard not to scream.
2. Unexpected live performance hiccups
Those engineers that make their way out on the road will get this more than most. This side of sound engineering is perhaps the most unpredictable and varied concerning the problems that occur, and professionals will attest to the fact that shows have a way of throwing up problems that manifest at the worst possible moment.
For example, how many front of house engineers will be happy with their levels and ready to make sure the show goes off without a hitch, only to have to quickly readjust everything thanks to heavy rain, unexpectedly high levels of noise from the crowd, or even equipment choosing that very moment to pack in and break?
Whilst these are things you accept as part of the job, it can be harder to grin and bear it when that occasional random audience member fancies a go at critiquing your setup. Whether they decide to stand next to your desk all night offering advice, requesting you make changes to the mix or suggesting what they’d do, it’s just something that every sound engineer has to deal with from time to time!
3. A sharp learning curve when you’re starting out
Starting out in sound engineering can come with a tough initiation, which will pay off with massive benefits as you make your way in the professional industry. If you’re new to the game or thinking about pursuing sound engineering as a career, it might help you to know that we’ve been told that every pro who has sat behind a desk is guaranteed to have made a few mistakes during their career.
A common self-inflicted hiccup we’ve heard about many times is to do with the adjustment and fine-tuning of an audio channel. Sometimes trainee engineers will work on a channel or hours on end with repeated playbacks and tweaks, only to find that the channel was in fact bypassed (good news though – your ears did not deceive you!) Then there are the countless unplugged wires, software issues and unrepeatable mistakes that led to an even better sounding mix that all beginners will experience on the path to professionalism.
Get more from your kit with Flightcase Warehouse
If you’re a sound engineering professional, we know that your valued kit is your lifeblood and absolutely essential to the success of whatever event or project you’re working on. Working closely with those in the industry for over two decades, Flightcase Warehouse understands exactly what is required to keep you kit safe in transit, storage and even use. Whether you need protective, clever storage, a heavy-duty transportation solution or even something special that only you can imagine, Flightcase Warehouse can create and supply to your exact spec. Visit our website to view our wide off the shelf range of flight cases, or email us to talk over our totally bespoke Pro Flightcase service.