We've created this page as we are passionate at Corton Audio about supporting the training and future industry we currently work in... with young live sound engineers, bands, etc on understanding the technical aspects of a live event and production.
Here you'll find a great range of information. Live sound is a lot about personal opinion so you may see things here that you may think is wrong, but others may not! Its about discussing personal opinions and displaying information we have found of "on-road" experience & to assist those future engineers.
We hope you enjoy this page!
Why we think young live sound engineers should learn analogue...
Many engineers now days start mixing using a digital console... Why? Well its all around us and lets face it... Its a lot easier. BUT here lies the question "What if?" Well what if you come accross a rack of outboard equipment TC Electronic M-One's, a dbx 1046, An outboard 31-band graphic or a Yamaha SPX990... Let alone an analogue console like the ever reliable Allen and Heath GL2400?
Basically what we are encouraging is for young engineers to understand that patching in a digital console is the push of a button. But understanding analogue signal flow is one of the most important parts of any live audio system and you just never know when you may need to patch in an insert cable out of an AUX and back through a channel and understand why its done, patching in an outboard graphic over FOH or before monitor amps... It may seem like something you no longer need to think about with digital consoles... yet we think its a vital piece of understanding for all those looking, in or studying live sound!
Do you need to go to uni to be a live sound engineer?
We get asked this a lot over the years and back when I was studying in high school I also asked the exact same question...
Well we've found the following:
IN LIVE SOUND - It cant hurt studying it, but we highly recommend getting out there with sound companies, watching engineers in the live environment that is live sound... you cant teach "live" in a classroom! Get out there... Volunteer, coil some cables, watch, listen, learn and MIX!
IN RECORDING - That's slightly different and although we are not recording engineers studying may be an option for recording engineers.
Do you ever stop learning?
NEVER! You never stop learning from outher sound guys, different consoles, technology and equipment... its constantly changing... You never stop learning!!!
Do you recommend a book?
Duncan Fry's live sound mixing series is one we highly recommend reading... Although the latest published is slightly dated... It explains everything really well!!! Well worth buying and well worth a read!
How do I ask a production (sound) company/business for work experience?
Dont be afraid to ask! Most production companies/business's or FOH engineers may appear to be intimidating... But most aren't and are more then happy to assist young, eager and motivated people wishing to work in live sound/production.
Most companies/business's are after young people who are:
- On time!
- Self driven;
- Hard working;
and most of all... WANT to be part of the industry!
Should I buy a PA system or hire (and things to consider before buying)?
Well we all need to start somewhere, yet there are a couple of things to consider...
- The first is to understand that this industry is based on technology and remember that technology changes very quick such as the change in consoles from analog to digital.
Consider changes to audio system technology before making your purchase.
- Can you wait?
Keep in mind, the next production version may be only a few months away which can drop the prices of new market items.
PA equipment can cost a fare amount of outlay. Keep in mind you are better off waiting and buying one good speaker, then you are buying two cheaper items. In my experience cheaper items will not last, nor hold up in this industry. Also keep in mind that a small 12" & Horn powered speaker from a few hundred dollars is ever going to be able to re-produce the same as a thousand dollar system.
In some ways you should consider hiring, provided the fact you have a vehicle to carry it, you dont need to worry as much about upkeep or the initial outlay of expensive equipment. The more you hire it the more you have more room to talk to your supplier about a special deal just for you!
- Consider the equipment?
Is it going to do what you need it too? Theres no point buying a small mixer when you actually need to manage 20 inputs and four foldback sends.
Even new gear can sometimes breakdown, always insure you have enough financial backing to cover the costs associated with warranty shipping costs, speaker driver replacement (incase you drive your new speaker too hard by accident without understanding it capabilities), or cables that break etc.
- Additional Equipment?
Do you need extra gear to protect your new purchase or just to make it work? Road cases, trolleys, wheels, IEC's power cables, lights, software, specific cables (NL4's, NL8's, etc) can sometimes add up to the same amount you originally paid for the equipment. Keep this in mind when purchasing. Dont forget if buying passive speakers you'll need something to power them up... Amp or Powered mixer etc!
Equipment insurance can be an important aspect, dont forget to choose from an insurance provider that will actually cover your gear and equipment.
Finally, make sure you can lift it, you can carry it and that the vehicle you put your gear in is safe to travel to your gig. Equipment in this industry can weigh a considerable load, dont forget to consider this and make sure you can actually fit it in your car!
Good luck with your next purchase/hire! :)