In Defense of the NQC Sound Guy

In Defense of the NQC Sound Guy September 16, 2011

Keith Waggoner offers an interesting perspective on NQC’s chronic sound problems:

As a guy who has sung on the main stage at NQC a few times, let me offer a defense for the sound team. Most groups (including, I’m sure, EHSS) bring in their own sound guy to mix their sets, rather than trusting whomever happens to be sitting at the sound board. This is to be expected, I guess, since the group sound man “knows” their sound. The problem comes when the group sound man isn’t experienced on the console they’re using at NQC or is unfamiliar with the room dynamics. The NQC sound guys let them do whatever they want. They let them set the sound and save presets on the board. They also let the group sound man come back and do the live mix for the performer. That’s why the sound can differ wildly between groups. I’ve worked with many of the NQC sound crew members at various events and they’re solid. For the most part, they know what they’re doing. We haven’t always used them for our sets, but when we have they’ve done a good job.

What I don’t get is the lack of communication between the stage hands distributing mics and the house sound guy. This results in those awkward stage moments while groups are singing with no amplification. There really is no excuse for not knowing who has what mic. While occasionally someone (usually an emcee) will grab a random mic and run up to the stage to say something real quick (creating a panic attack for the sound guy), most of the time the groups have their mics and are ready to go 10 minutes before their main stage slot. Groups use presets from sound check which require vocalists to use the same mic that they had in sound check. It’s up to the mic handler to make sure they have that same mic. If someone has the wrong mic, let the house guy know about it. The house guy has to be in tune to figure out which mic they DO have and prepared to mix on the fly.
It’s not a perfect system by any means. Until they have only the “official” sound crew running sound, NQC will suffer from sonic inconsistency. I’m not saying that the NQC sound crew would always do it better, but at the very least it would be uniform.

Thoughts? Comments? I will say that this explanation does make sense to me. The thing that still puzzles me is how a group like Signature Sound, who should have this kind of thing down, could have a rotten mix? Last night was better than the previous night, but it was still a little rough. Are we to assume they’re doing their own sound as well? Because I’ve been to two of their concerts and never heard problems of that sort.

"Thanks for proving Lily's point. What color is the sky in your bubble-verse?"

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