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AUS220 with Smash Bros

Last Thursday, our group set the sound stage for a live gig. This was supposed to be the final day for our live sound intensive and the band that we had coming in was a 4 piece Stoner-Punk/Rock band called Smash Bros. The opening act for the gig was our classmate Elly Thompson.

Our day started with setting up the PA by 11 am and setting up the foldbacks and testing Pink noise through them by 12 pm. We all decided to go through this early on in the day so that we could have plenty of time to troubleshoot if we ran in to any problems before the gig, which would start at 7 pm. Our group was on top of everything for the most part of the day except for a few problems which occurred because of some confusions within the group. The main reason for it could've been that we did not assign group roles and so everyone was jumping on to everything. This confusion led us to plugging in the Drum fill in a wrong way; which could have been worse had we damaged the high-end speakers. Luckily, Tim noticed the problem early and helped us rectify it before any damage was done. Apart from this, our rest of the day up until the 5 pm soundcheck ran smoothly and we had the microphones set up and tested for levels and recording done by that time.

Elly arrived at around 4:30 pm and we started souncheck at 5 pm. Elly told us beforehand that here voice was very dynamic and suggested that we use a compressor on her vocals, which we did. We did some corrective EQ on her guitars by cutting frequencies below 80Hz and took out some frequencies around 3KHz to make more room for her vocals. We High passed Elly’s vocals at 100Hz as well but the problem was that we used the built-in EQs on the Avid console for all of these instead of using the dedicated High-pass filters available which we failed to notice up until when Tim pointed them out in the middle of the gig. I also felt that the overall performance for Elly was a bit quite so I decided to put a plugin Limiter on the Main L and R outs of the console just to make it all louder. Other than this, Elly’s setup was sounding great so then we moved on to soundchecking our main act, the Smash Bros.

We started by corrective EQing the drums and Bass and we did this by using a peak filter on the bass and cutting out some frequencies at around 140Hz to reduce some of the ‘boominess’. Then we used a Low shelf EQ on the Kick to filter frequencies below 30Hz and used a ridiculously narrow Q value to increase frequencies between 45Hz and 60Hz to make it sound ‘heavier’. The drummer seemed to have been really enjoying it. We also added some compression on the Bass targeting 4-5dB of Gain reduction just to even it out in terms of level and body. The guitars and vocals were easy to do as they were already sounding great. We just high-passed them at 100 Hz with a very gentle curve just to get rid of some ‘mud’ and low-end. After this, we moved on to doing some creative stuff by adding reverb on the snare and reverb and delay on the vocals. We compressed the lead vocals and the 2 backing vocals as well. Everything was sounding great and we were all set for the performance at 7 pm.

Our setup

We didn’t have a lot of people show up at the gig but the 20-25 people that did show up looked quite excited for it. Our opening act, Elly, performed for about 20 minutes and she sounded amazing. At this point, our group was feeling relaxed and as Tim would say, “Once the show has started, it’s all about taking it easy and enjoying the show”. Elly’s performance went smoothly and the crowd seemed to have been enjoying it as well. After that, it was time for the main act, Smash Bros.

Elly-T performing at SAE, Institute

Everything started off as planned and the band was sounding great. After about 10-15 minutes in to the performance, the lead singer took his shirt off and started to move around the stage with his microphone. We did not anticipate this and so we started getting a massive ‘feedback’ coming from his microphone. We were not certain that it was coming from his mic so Tim asked us to use the headphones to solo each mic and find out which one of them was causing it. It did turn out to be the lead vocalist but there was nothing really that we could do about it. Tim also noticed that I had a Limiter ‘On’ on the whole mix which he asked me to turn off immediately as he said it was a bad idea and that I could’ve damaged the whole system.

For me, the best part of the whole gig was to see the band immerse themselves completely in to their performance and the crowd cheering and moving along to the music. I took some pride from being a part of the whole experience and apart from a few problems, the overall day was very productive and I learnt quite a lot from it. I’m looking forward to getting more of such opportunities in the future.

Smash Bros

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