Ever wondered what musicians have to go through before a live performance? Every time you attend concerts of your favourite bands, they almost always sound fantastic don’t they? Well, if you are a true live music enthusiast, or seriously aspire to be a live sound engineer someday, then ask yourself this – What is a Soundcheck?
Since today’s subject of discussion is a pretty simple concept to understand, I promise to keep the content short and sweet. But don’t worry, as you will not be missing out on important information that will help you learn the ropes of sound-checking. So, without wasting any more precious time, let us begin learning!
Soundcheck – A Must Have!
The preparation stage that happens before a live performance, is called soundcheck. This is where the performers will go through some parts of their performance, together with the sound crew, and using the venue’s sound reinforcement system. This helps the sound engineer to ensure optimum sound quality for the front-of-house (FOH) and monitor system.
Soundchecks are even more important for performances of popular music, or other musical genres that requires heavily amplified sound systems (such as rock or metal). Having the best sound possible is vital to the success of such live events. Soundcheck is a difficult discipline to master, as the acoustics of venues will change when they are filled with audiences.
The topics that we’ll be discussing are:
- The process
- Other aspects
In most cases, soundchecks are conducted before the audience enters the venue. The sound-checking process usually starts with the rhythm section, and then it moves on to the melody section and vocalists. After all the technical adjustments and troubleshooting have been completed by the stage crew and sound engineer, the performers will then leave the stage.
There are also instances where soundchecks take place right in front of the audience, and then followed by the actual performance itself. This usually happens at live shows that are of a smaller scale and where there is more than one artist performing. Soundchecks often become more complex in these types of situations, due to time constraints.
Some artists will have one or more of their songs that they play during soundcheck to be recorded. These recordings can be reused as sound sources for future soundchecks. This helps to reduce or entirely nullify the need for performers to be present. These “virtual soundchecks” can also be used to tune the PA system, in relation to the new venue’s acoustics.
Touring artists sometimes make changes to their set list during the course of a tour. They often use soundchecks as an opportunity to rehearse new material or bring back old material, to see if they should introduce them into certain shows at different venues. At times, fans may sneak into venues to observe soundchecks, to gain a foreshadowing of show surprises to come.
That’s it folks, a basic introduction on soundchecks. Hopefully you’ll now have a good grasp of how this vital process generally works!
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