The (First) Time I Became A Sound Engineer
Hellooo! On Friday 18th March I had the honour of being an assistant sound engineer for a show called Rough Tracks of Life by WomenCentre at the Lawrence Batley Cellar Theatre in Huddersfield. WomenCentre are an incredible organisation that offers a wide range of services from councelling to debt advice. I will leave a link to their website at the end of this post so you can go and check them out. The show was lead by an amazing lady named Emily Druce who is the reason the show was possible! No one could thank her enough and the work she has done is so inspiring, I hope to work with her again in the future! We started out by setting up and connecting up the equipment on the stage. We used SM58's as vocal mics, SM57's for the percussion (a variety) and the ukelele and a Behringer DI800 Ultra-DI Pro 8 Channel DI Box for the bass and guitar. Once we had connected these up to the stage box and set up a monitoring wedge for the performers, we began soundchecking the microphones on the Yamaha MG166cx mixing desk before completing a full soundcheck with the performers.
Before the show, one of the members of staff set up the lighting system so that we would only have to click a button to change it between two settings for showtime and pre-show. I watched as he changed settings at the speed of light, wanting to learn what he was doing and how he was doing it.
As expected, we stumbled across a few problems as we prepared for the show. The first was that we were concerned that the speakers were in danger of causing feedback as they were rather close to the stage and the microphones. To overcome this, we moved them outwards and slightly forwards to minimise the risk. Once we began the full soundcheck, we noticed that there was a slight resonance on a couple of the microphones. To solve this, we used the EQ section on the desk to find the resonant frequency and remove it. We also used the high pass filters to remove any unwanted low end rumble on the microphones. Finally, we used the compressor on the desk to try and reduce the chance of loud bursts standing out during the performance. As the performance began, we realised that the bass was slightly distorting but the level was quite low down in the desk. During the interval we turned the level down on the amp to solve the problem.
The show was an inspiration to watch. Each woman on the stage had a battle that they were facing and the support they showed each other was incredible. I'm proud to say that I was part of the show. It was so empowering to see women battling illness, addiction and grief making music together to an audience of around 110 people. The songs were all written by the women (aside from the encore) and to be in that room was an honour.
At the end of the night, Emily thanked us for helping out and said that she'd had many compliments on the sound which is always good to hear!
Throughout the night I couldn't help but think that live sound is one hundred per cent what I want a career in.
Thanks for reading! Sophie
Rough Tracks Of Life is available on CD for £5 from WomenCentre Huddersfield now!