12 Days of Christmas: Day 8: Sound Techs

Submitted by Donna H., also the grand prize winner.

If I had the power to give anyone any Christmas gift, I would give all Southern Gospel groups a skillful sound technician to run the sound system from off of the stage. Not only is it distracting to see a group member making adjustments on the sound board during a song, but I believe the sound is much better when the sound tech can hear what the audience is hearing and can make adjustments as needed. And I would coach the sound technician to NEVER blast the audience with volume that is too loud. The technician should understand that a majority of the audience is probably older than 50, and many may wear hearing aids! (I have actually had an elderly gentleman at NQC ask me if he could borrow my earplugs when a group who is notoriously TOO loud was on main stage!) The tech would also be aware that the voices must not be overpowered by the accompaniment, no matter how fantastic the accompaniment may be!

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7 Letters to the Editor

Southern Gospel Journal welcomes letters to the editor. We will post the most thoughtful and insightful submissions. Ground rules: Don't attack or belittle groups or fellow posters, or advance heresies rejected by orthodox Christianity. Do keep comments positive, constructive, and on topic.
  1. Congratulations Donna H. You hit the nail on the head. Don’t know why it is so hard for some artist to understand that they need to turn the volume down and the tracks. Even some sound techs in the audience can’t understand that the volume is too high. I’ve about came to the conclusion that those artist that run the volume on tracks so high that they can’t sing very well.

  2. Amen! I’ll take one any day. From the artist’s standpoint, it is very irritating to keep having to reach over and make adjustments. I’d much rather be singing than fooling with a mixing console during the song. It’s not just distracting to the audience, but to us as well. And its so hard to please everyone. Some will feel its not loud enough, and some will yell out that it’s too loud! I know I would much rather have it comfortable for everyone and for ourselves. But great sound engineers aren’t cheap. So until we can all afford one, I guess we will have to just hope for the best. lol

  3. I have been running sound for 12 years at our church of 450 people(we have two soundmen for every service… one for the stage, and one for the audience), and let me tell you one thing… you will NEVER run sound to please everyone, no matter WHAT you do. You can DEF. do a better job out in the audience with everyone else, but I can GARUNTEE it will not fix ALL the problems. Young people want BASS that shakes the floors and rafters(most don’t even care about clarity), middle aged people are the easiest to please… lots of highs, lots of lows… a nice well-balanced sound, and old people want it fairly flat because their ears just hear a ‘roar’ from the bottom end…..

    I agree though, running the sound FROM the stage for anything besides your monitors, is NOT as efficient as a soundman sitting with the rest of the crowd.

  4. Hoo Boy, is this ever a volatile issue! There are pluses and minuses on both sides of the microphone. I’ve heard groups with sound men in the audience who had no idea of the meaning of the word “mix” or “clarity.” I’ve also heard groups with a group member mixing the group from the stage who has the same lack.

    I’ve been a singer/sound guy in our group for fifty years and I’ve made my share of errors, but I’ve found myself feeling the most vulnerable and hopeless when some sound person mixing offstage has my very success, or lack of it, in his hands. It’s especially frustrating when the sound man is a total newcomer to our group sound, yet I am forced to work through his ears.

    It’s unfair to judge everyone by a few unfortunate sets of circumstances or experiences and I take very seriously the perspective of the audience, but it’s been evident to me on all too many occasions that the problem lies on BOTH sides of the microphone and BOTH sides of the stage.

    • That is an interesting point – a group with sound run from the stage is far better off than a group with an amateur soundman (or a pro who doesn’t know their sound) working from the stage.

  5. You cannot run sound from the stage Daniel… not properly. How can you tell if something is too “sharp” or has too much mids from the backside of a speaker? You can’t do it. If you were in the same room night after night, YES you can sorta compensate, and get used to what it sounds like from the stage. But when you are changing rooms and auditoriums night after night, it is IMPOSSIBLE to get a decent sound from the stage when you are sitting behind the mains. The only thing you can mix properly would be your monitors.

  6. “…..It’s especially frustrating when the sound man is a total newcomer to our group sound, yet I am forced to work through his ears.”

    If the sound man is a PROFESSIONAL and has been running sound for many years… he may not produce the sound you are wanting, BUT he should be able to produce a mix that is pleasant and doesn’t offend many people. THAT is what is the most important thing IMO.

    P.S. This is WAAAY off topic, but a decent set of speakers makes the difference in many cases. We just got a new set of “Turbo Sound” amplified speakers installed in our church, and MAN the sound is soooo smooth. Sounds like butter compared the old EV “Delta-Max” system we were running…