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)?

Top Ten Ways to Annoy Your Sound Engineer

The importance of sound engineers on Sunday mornings cannot be overstated. You, your team, your choir, your musicians, your pastors, and your pet turtles can rehearse every day of the week, but if your sound engineer falls asleep on Sunday morning or decides to blast the congregation with 15 seconds of screaming feedback, nothing else can matter.

So then it’s important not to annoy them. You want to be on the same team, striving for the same goal, building one another up in love, and not harboring resentment or frustration. An annoyed sound engineer will either (a) quit, (b) not care, or (c) both.

Some worship leaders might not realize how they’re annoying their sound engineer. Here are ten ways:

Unplug your guitar without making sure the channel is muted first. News flash: your sound engineer often has 89 things on his mind. Catch his eye and make sure he’s muted your guitar before you unplug it and make all the old ladies jump out of their skin.

Look at your sound engineer like it’s his fault when you do something stupid. I’ve mastered the art of this one. Let’s say I unplug my guitar before the channel is muted. Old ladies then jump out of their skin, and parents throw themselves on top of their children to protect them from the sounds of gunfire. What do I do? I look at the sound engineer like he should be ashamed of himself. For some reason this annoys them…

Always ask for more. I need a little bit more of my voice. OK now I need less Susan. And can I have more of my guitar? OK, now I need a lot more of my voice. I’m still hearing too much keyboard. Can you turn my guitar up please? Now I could use less electric. I can’t hear my voice. Is my guitar in this thing? (kneel down and put your ear to the monitor) I don’t think this monitor is on. Can you turn me up in it? I just need a lot less of everybody else and a whole lot more of me. Yes, just turn me up. Turn the rest of the band down. I could still use a lot more of my guitar. Can you give me some reverb please?

Assume that your request is the most important thing in the whole wide world. News flash: your sound engineer often is having to deal with burned out batteries, bad cables, setting gain structures, EQ, feedback, running monitors, recording the sermon, making sure the preacher has a mic, fixing the projector, dealing with complaints, and guitarists who are unplugging their guitar before the channel is muted. Just because you’re the worship leader and your guitar is too loud at the moment doesn’t mean he can drop all those things to attend to you.

Can you come down here and move this monitor three inches while I stand here with my guitar and watch you run down from the sound desk and back again? Sure, I could move it myself, but I’m the worship leader and I have to protect my hands.

Assume that your sound engineer can read minds. You want your back-up singer to start off the third song? Do you think you could tell your sound engineer ahead of time? No, it’s probably a better idea to keep that a secret and let him read your mind.

I know that you’re a sound engineer and have been setting up for three hours and have carefully considered mic placement and how to avoid feedback, but I’m the worship leader and I’d like to move everything around please. I’ve done this and it’s not pretty. You’re now moving beyond the realm of annoying your sound engineer into provoking his wrath and indignation against you.

Expect your sound engineer to defy the limits of the sound board. OK, so this Sunday I have four vocalists, 2 guitars, an electric, a bass, drums, keyboard, hand percussion, a small choir, a trumpet player, a synthesizer, and flute. Nevermind we have an 8-channel board and 2 monitor mixes. Jesus multiplied the fishes and loaves, right? Get on it, sound engineer. Work your miracles.

Treat your microphone like it’s contagious. I like to sing with my mouth 8 inches away from the microphone. That way it lets the “space” get into the sound. Treat the microphone like it’s contagious. It’s awesome. It’s the new thing. My sound guy loves it. But for some reason it’s never loud enough. Go figure.

Oh, yeah, I’m sorry, we didn’t tell you that we decided half an hour ago to change the order of the service and what person was assigned to speak at different times. There was a moat filled with hungry alligators that was keeping us from reaching the sound desk, and those alligators had cell phone blocking technology which kept my text messages from going through, and those loud popping noises you heard were the hungry alligators unplugging my guitar when the channel wasn’t muted. You should really be more attentive.