Live Sound Explained:
How to tweak your band to sound great in live performances.


I’ve been engineering live sound for many years now. It’s been a long and arduous education, much of it was self-taught and much more was acquired through practical experience and mentorship. At this point in time, it no longer feels hubristic to say that I’ve developed that illusive third-eye; a sixth-sense, if you will, for identifying and resolving the countless issues that can clutter up a live mix.

If there is one thing that I count on in this profession, it’s that most of the bands that I work with will fall victim to at least a few common pitfalls. For quite some time, I made an effort to make “offenders” aware of the issues that were adversely affecting their mix. Over time, however, the sermon became tired as I found myself repeating the same topics over and over again.

This series will identify and explain the most common issues that I’ve dealt with over the years and provide practical advice for musicians who would like to avoid these pervasive mistakes. Live sound is a big-picture process. Every little detail, from the percussive sound of a guitar pick striking each string while strumming, to the acoustic effect of a structural concrete column beside the dance floor, can be an important piece of the puzzle that I work to solve night after night. By shedding some light on this process, I hope to equip musicians with the knowledge to interact effortlessly and effectively with a live sound technician and also to create the conditions that will make your mix sound great.

Without any further ado, lets get started:  This table of contents will be linked and updated as the corresponding articles are written.

Live Sound Explained:
How to tweak your band to sound great in live performances.

  1. Shut Up and Set Up – Professionalism starts before the doors open.
  2. The Sound Technician – So what’s the job description, exactly?
  3. The PA System – Signal flow and the public address system.
  4. Sound Check! – Don’t forget to take your ritalin. Please.
  5. Acoustics and Sound Reinforcement – How sound travels and interacts in a room.
  6. Mics, Speakers, and the Human Ear – Imperfect designs and inconvenient physics.
  7. Instrumental Advice – Introduction
  8. Instrumental Advice – Vocalists
  9. Instrumental Advice – Electric Guitars
  10. Instrumental Advice – The Electric Bass
  11. Instrumental Advice – The Drum Kit
  12. Instrumental Advice – Acoustic Strings
  13. Instrumental Advice – The Horn Section
  14. Instrumental Advice – Keyboards
  15. Instrumental Advice – The DJ and The Sampler
  16. Instrumental Advice – The Backing Track
  17. Appendix A – Technical Riders and Stage Plots
  18. Appendix B – Live Recording

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