How to insult a sound engineer [with video]

David Mellor

David Mellor is CEO and Course Director of Audio Masterclass. David has designed courses in audio education and training since 1986 and is the publisher and principal writer of

Wednesday June 12, 2013

"The sound was too loud", "The sound was too quiet", "The sound was bad". That pretty much sums up the full range of insults suffered by sound engineers. It's something you get used to in the first three months. Then you just get on with doing the best job you can, no matter what they say. "The sound was great!" Well, you might get that once in a blue moon.

But there's another, more subtle way to insult a sound engineer. And here it is...

Very funny. Not an insult at all really, just an innocent member of the public who doesn't realize that the sound engineer has a gain control and knows how to set it.

Actually, it's a useful example of what sound engineers have to handle on a day-to-day basis. I should imagine that the gain is set to cope with the loudest whoop that can be expected (they are always whooping on that show). Patch in a limiter to catch the peaks and bring them down to an acceptable level, then it's all down to the faders. But if a contestant stoops towards the microphone, then Mr. or Ms. Engineer needs to be fast on the fader to correct it. Or in this case it can be corrected in post-production since the show doesn't go out live.

But there's another interesting point here. Notice how adjacent pairs of microphones are placed close together and angled towards the individual contestants?

This will reduce phasing should a contestant move as they speak, compared to what might happen if the mics were spaced apart. Actually, it's probably more of a convenience thing because of the boxes. Even so, it's a useful thing to be aware of.

The program by the way is Deal Or No Deal. It's a clever show, but an awful waste of daylight hours if you get hooked...

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