Ten More Ways to Annoy Your Sound Engineer

1A few years ago I shared some thoughts on how to annoy your sound engineer. They seemed to be helpful to people so I thought I’d share some more. Obviously, you might not want to implement all these suggestions on the same Sunday.

Make him touch your ears
You’re too important to learn how to put your ear monitors in the correct way, or in the correct ear, so make him do it for you. Bonus points if you make him try to figure out how to put your belt pack on without getting sued for harrasment.

Have long rehearsals
Sound engineers have nothing better to do than sit at the console while you rehearse that one song again. They love being trapped there while you figure out what songs to do. They don’t mind a bit not being able to go home and sleep because you’re goofing around. It’s fun for them!

Sing like you’re telling secrets
If you can master the art of singing with a whimpery, yet raspy, yet emotional, yet passionate, yet secret whisper from the inner regions of your soul, your sound engineer will have no trouble at all finding a good place for your vocals in the mix. Bonus points if you choose random moments to sing normally before reverting to the whisper again. It’s hilarious.

Tell him what you think about the mix when you’re on stage
You’re standing on stage. You’re behind the speakers. You can’t actually hear what it sounds like in the room. But go ahead and tell him it sounds like your guitar isn’t loud enough. Keep telling him. Until your guitar sounds loud enough to you. You’ve successfully made him your best friend.

Display your awesomeness
First song: you’re on acoustic. Second song: you’re on accordion. Third song: back on acoustic. Fourth song: floor tom. Fifth song: you’re on banjo (but let’s be serious: you can’t really play banjo, so he should turn it down so no one knows). Sixth song: you’re on electric. Your sound engineer will love you.

Can you do me a favor and give me a bit less hi-hat, and bump up the kick by 2b, and pan the electric to the right, and give me about 6db more acoustic in my left, and give me a bit more reverb on my vocal?
Oh and can you get me a Latte too? OK thanks.

Throw him under the bus
Lets say you get an email from Verna, a long-time member of the church, and she complains that it was too loud on Sunday. What should you do? Blame the sound engineer. You are not responsible for your music. Throw the sound engineer under the bus and go buy yourself another scarf.

Expect him to do eight things at once
1. Run sound. 2. Run monitors. 3. Run projection. 4. Record the sermon. 5. Hand out assisted-listening devices. 6. Control lights. 7. Play the video at the right time. 8. Touch your ears. He’s superman.

Give feedback feedback
He loves when you do this! Hear feedback? Tell him you hear feedback. Try to recreate the feedback by thumping your mic with your pointer finger. Or, better yet, try to fix the feedback by holding the palm of your hand over your mic. Then you might create even worse feedback, in which case you can prove to your sound engineer that you really were hearing feedback. Then he might kill you.

Pretend his first name is “Hey”
All sound engineers have one first name, and it’s “Hey”. Seriously, it’s so convenient. “Hey, can you turn my mic on?” “Hey, can you give me a bit more keyboard?” “Hey, can you bring me my scarf?”

What am I missing (besides my Latte)?

19 thoughts on “Ten More Ways to Annoy Your Sound Engineer”

  1. I am already used to most of these. .Minus the ear and belt pack thingy. However, I must admit, I have not seen “him” buy another scarf. : ) Oh, and the reverb part. I can do reverb baby. : ) See you Thursday, only cause I like you. ; )

  2. This is terrific. I’m married to a sound engineer so I get it. I do. He dealt with that all the time while running sound for secular bands. And I’m really thankful our worship pastor does NONE of these things! I’m sure he’s the exception, though.

  3. ‘Whisper sing’ the verses with the mic at the belly button distance and sing the choruses at full Sandi Pattti levels with the windscreen almost touching your uvula. Your sound guy will really love you.

  4. You’re supposed to hold it at belly button levels? Huh, I thought you were supposed to hold the microphone at your nose level and speak into the bottom of the big ball. After all, it’s a microphone, right?

  5. How about “we can’t practice this week because our dobro / djembe player (or better yet lead guitar) can’t make it. So instead, let’s just get to church an hour earlier on Sunday and rehearse before the first service. That’s cool, right?”

  6. Just face it – if you want to be a sound engineer serving amateur musicians then you better have a thick skin. You also need to be able to quietly enjoy the humor in a group of insecure and fearful people trying to become a coherent group facing the scariest crowd ever. Suck it up and smile. If you are good at it you know what is required and how to achieve this despite the physical and emotional challenges that will invariably come your way. You know that you will be very busy for a few hours and if you dont like commitedly serving people then you are in the wrong place. If you need that booth and be seen to turn knobs on the equipment around you in order to be somebody then you are a problem and should be removed as soon as possible. If you are not capable of prioritising, systematic problem solving and smilingly ignoring annoying comments then you should immediately remove yourself. Be aware that the worship team in every church seems to be the most vulnerable target for the enemy. Do nothing that will make you a stumbling block. Do everything in your power to become a transparent servant who makes sure that everything happen seamlessly.
    A large part of the sound engineers job is to deflect attacks of the enemy on the worship team. No space for an ego out there.

    1. Very well said! That’s the important part to remember….and educating others as to any established procedures goes such a long way in preventing conflict 🙂

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