On Thursday 2/4/15 a small group of my peers and I were lucky enough to take part in a live sound workshop at the Hi-Fi on Boundary st in Westend. The main focus of the day was learning about the monitoring and front-of-house consoles as well as a few pointers on the general workflow of a medium scale live sound set up.
The monitor engineer’s job is, essentially, to provide the artist/s with a mix to their liking in order for them to give their best performance. At the Hi-Fi, this mix will be sent to the artist through on stage wedges. These are speakers that sit on the edge of the stage facing the artist so they can hear themselves and any other elements of the performance they need in order to perform properly e.g. bass, drums, guitar etc. Conor demonstrated to us how to create an overall mix on the desk and then how to create and send smaller, individual mixes to each of the three pairs of wedges (located at stage left, centre and stage right). He then stood on the stage and gave us hand signals as to what instrument he’d like turned up in any particular wedge set up. He maintained that it’s imperative to keep eye contact with whoever’s on stage, whether it’s an artist or an assistant engineer, so as not to blast their ears off and get the right levels for a good performance.
After a short break it was back to the Hi-Fi for a bit of education on the FOH (Front Of House) side of the business. The FOH console is most often positioned in the middle of the audience area. The FOH console in this case is a Digidesign Profile Mixrack console.
The FOH engineer is responsible for providing the audience with a superior listening experience through mixing each element of the performance to appropriate levels and applying any necessary effects. The FOH console is positioned in the middle of the crowd because this gives the best idea of how it’s going to sound to the audience.
Conor ran us through some information and functions of the desk, one of these being the VCA (Voltage-Controlled Amplifier) function. Instead of using the usual subgrouping method to control multiple signals, a VCA can be used, which is really just a remote control for multiple faders. Rather than controlling the level of a few faders by sending them to one group fader and moving that (while each of the faders you’ve sent stays still), in the case of VCA, you can move one fader and this moves the fader of each channel signal you’ve sent to it – this being the ‘remote control’ reference.All in all, a very interesting day of live sound education.I very much look forward to the next one!
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