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AUS220 - Live sound with Tim Dalton


For the past couple of weeks, we’ve been learning "Live sound" under the guidance of Tim Dalton. In our first tutorial with Tim, he showcased a glimpse of his past work as an engineer in live sound which covered almost 38 years of his life; during which he travelled all over Britain setting up gigs for many bands and singers famous at the time.

I absolutely love how he portrayed the various stages in a day of the life of a live sound engineer. From starting up early in the morning at 5 am to sound check in the evening and then the final performance at night and then packing up late night and then travelling again to another location for another gig next morning.

His main emphasis was on the fact that 'most success in this industry comes from being at the right place at the right time'. He also exclaimed how challenging and at the same time how rewarding this industry can be. According to Tim, during the past couple of decades; the profit in studio recording business took a descend, owing to the growing prevalence and availability of software instruments and home-based recordings and that all that money went in to the live sound industry. Tim also shared his experiences of being “on the road” and all the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ stuff associated with it. He also pointed out how important it was for an engineer to be able to work in a team environment as a Live event employed a number of people ranging from lighting, sound, musicians and marketing.

Personally, before this class with Tim, I’d never given any thought to learning about and working in the Live sound industry. This was because I always thought that live engineering doesn’t have much to do with art. I believed that it was all about the technical side of things and moreover getting hold of the Live sound equipment (PA, amps, mixing console, etc.) for practicing was way more difficult than the sound recording set-up with could comprise of only a laptop and an audio interface.

The Tower of Babel

It is only after I got a chance to learn about it and see how it is not only about the technical aspect of sound that I started to develop a liking for it. After you set up the stage and get those mics and PAs working, it is all about the artistic side of things as you create a well-balanced mix of all those different instruments. Tim showed us a picture of a painting called “The Tower of Babel” by Pieter Bruegel and explained how live sound mixing is like painting a picture with different colors in it. The more separation and individuality you can give to each color, the more interesting and well defined the picture looks. Otherwise, the only color you will get is a muddy “shit” brown.

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