These days, consoles, processors, and even speakers are packed to the rafters with ways to adjust their behaviour. From gain to frequency to dynamics to time, the options are endless. Even the most basic consoles will typically have a fully parametric EQ and high and low pass filters on every input.
Well, potentially not so. How many times have you been at a line check where the sound guy is taking what seems like hours, fiddling with the channel strip on the kick drum, only for it to still sound bad? Most of us have been there and done that. I know I have. But what I have gradually come to realise is that if I have to do much more than apply gain, high pass, and low pass on the instrument, there is probably something wrong that I cannot fix in the electronic domain. Does the source sound like it should? Is the microphone pointing at it? Is the input to the DI box being over driven?
The same thought process could also apply to a System Tech. You may have tens of thousands of dollars worth of speakers hanging in the air. Do you need to apply all that EQ on your processor? Is something bigger wrong? Are all the speakers of correct relative polarity? What is happening in the time domain? Is it all turned on?
Take a step back from the knobs and consider whether there is a better solution for what you are trying to achieve.
Nobody wants to listen to Steely Dan or a kick drum for an hour.
Jamie Earle is Clearwing’s Chief Audio Engineer. He started working in the shop of a PA company 10 years ago, cleaning sick off of cables and painting speakers. Since then he has toured as Band Engineer and Systems Engineer. He was brought up in a small 8000 pop coastal town in the South East of England and has spent time living and working in Prague, Czech Republic, where he met his Minnesotan future wife. They moved to the US in April 2014.