Live sound has been a fascination of mine ever since I did my first live sound job at a pub in Cambridge back when I was at college and around 18 years old. The gig wasn’t particularly notable; however, it was enough to ignite the live sound passion within me.
Through various gigs around this time, I learnt that none of these events are ever the same, especially from the technical point of view, even if they were at the same pubs with similar line‑ups. There is always something to learn either from an artists’ request or a piece of equipment not behaving quite as it should.
Fast‑forward to the present day, I am very fortunate to work for an amazing live sound rental company called Britannia Row Productions, which started back in the 1970s from Pink Floyd renting out their live audio equipment when they weren’t on tour, and are now one of the go‑to companies for live sound equipment for many huge artists and events. I’m constantly learning how large‑scale concerts such as your favourite artist’s performance at the O2 Arena are put together whilst I’m going about my day in the warehouse.
There is always something to learn from each event.... The journey of learning never stops for a professional in the live sound industry.
For myself, this goes to show how in fact the core basics with the technology doesn’t really change from small gigs to these large arena shows. The performers all use microphones of some kind, and the channels all find their way to the front‑of‑house mixing engineer’s desk in some way or another, which all eventually find their way to some front of house speakers. Where large scale concerts differ is in the professionalism and expertise of the engineers and technicians, and of course the quality of equipment used.
Yet despite this, from what I have gathered from speaking to some engineers who have been in the industry for many years, even many decades in some cases, there is always something to learn from each event. Whether that be how to deal with a particular technical issue, or a better way to deal with an audience member asking if the mixing engineer really does know what all those faders and knobs do, the journey of learning never stops for a professional in the live sound industry.
This is why I love the incredible and diverse world of live sound, and why each artist deserves the best shot to carry their music across to a live audience. Whether the audience is 20 people or 20,000, everyone deserves to sound great live.