Canadian Musician - May / June 2018 - Page 60

LIVE SOUND Maxime Brunet was introduced to audio at the age of 17 through community radio. She now works as both a club and touring front of house engineer. She developed an introduction to sound class, the DIY Audio Tech Workshop for Women+ , which she has taught throughout Ontario. This article was originally published by By Maxime Brunet Getting into Sound Engineering H ave you ever looked at the back of a room during a show and no- ticed a person straining their neck to listen to the band while also fiddling with some knobs and faders? That’s the sound engineer. Often forgotten until there’s monitor feedback or someone needs an instrument cable, they are an important part of local venues. My journey as a live sound engineer began in 2010 when I started shadowing the legendary Slo Tom at the now de- funct Zaphods in Ottawa.  Prior to this, I’d worked recording ads and interviews in the production department at CHUO 89.1FM and recorded my own bands at home, but live sound was a different beast. Feedback, working with different musicians and music genres every night, as well as the notion that the show must always go on were very much part of this game! Shadowing Slo Tom was a great experience and I learned to always treat musicians with respect and not give in to the grumpy sound tech stereo- types. By that summer, I was given my very first solo shifts at Café Dekcuf. Without going into too many details, let me tell you that I learned a lot that weekend – everything from microphone stand placement to monitor feedback to how to never speak to a lead singer again. While my first night working alone went off without incidents, I almost ran out of the room on night two due to the crazy amount of monitor feed- back. Fortunately, I stopped myself. I had the foresight to realize it would be hard to convince a club owner to hire me again if I took off mid-show! I have now been working full-time as a live sound engineer for eight years in clubs in Ottawa and Toronto and as a touring front of house and monitor engineer. Here are some tips and tricks to get you started on your live sound journey.   Find Someone to Shadow In my opinion, the best way to learn how to do live sound is to shadow a live sound engineer. Don’t be afraid to ask local sound 60 • C A N A D I A N M U S I C I A N techs to come and shadow them as they work. Offer to help them patch the stage, work the show, and put away equipment. Ask questions. If you frequently shadow, a sound tech might let you mix an opening band – a great way to put your skills to use. Alternatively, there are audio programs at colleges throughout Canada, but these can be expensive. Always Be Ready to Learn  Those first few weeks on the job were a whirlwind of new information for me, from ways to ring out the feedback from monitors to how to properly patch a stage. Ask questions and learn from your mistakes. Find other local sound engineers to network and share knowledge with, or join online communities such as,, or the Women’s Audio Mission to access great articles, training videos, and forums. (Note that these resources are available to everyone, not just women.)   No Show Is Too Small When you’re starting out, take all the gigs you can and learn from them. Do you have a friend who is organizing a show in a coffee shop? Offer to set up the PA for them and run sound. Even if it’s just amplifying three vocal mics, you will learn from this expe- rience. No one starts off mixing in arenas, and it’s in those small venues where you will learn how to problem solve on the fly – an essential skill in live sound.   Know Your Allies I am forever grateful to the community of sound techs I met through my work in Ot- tawa. My fellow Mavericks coworkers were the ones who helped me refine my monitor ringing skills on those first few shifts. Like- wise, they were always available to answer questions when I had them. Most live sound work is freelance and it’s important to con- nect with your peers. You never know when you will work with someone again, or when a friend might be sick and need a substitute for a gig. Treat People with Respect From the musicians on stage to the touring sound techs who come through your place of work, treat people how you w ձ݅)ѼɕѕeЁхݸѼͥ)ЁѡȁѽȁͥѕՔ)ЁɕѼȁեѱ)݅䁥ԁѡѡəɵȁձ)Ѽȁ 1ݥ͔ԁɔ)ѽɥͽչȰѡͽչ)ȁ́ѡɔѼͥЁԁ)䁕ͥȰͼѼՑݥѠѡ)$ɕȁͽѡЁȁ͡)$ݽɭѡ݅ͽѡѽɥ)́хݸѼ]$)ѽȁݽɭݥѠ܁Ȱ$)䁅͡܁ѡѥ́ɥ́ѡeɔ)ѡ́݅ѡЁͻeЁݽɬ)ܰ͡ѕͥ啱Ёѡ+ )-܁]ѼM9)eԁٕȁٔѼѡѡЁ)ԁչхݡѡȁӊéݽɭ)ͽݡɔݥѠͅ䁍ɹ́Ս)ɥɑ́ȁɽɥєٕՔ)хȁ̸ͥ́ݽ$ٔ)ͥՅѥ́ݡɔͥ́ȁѽɥ)́ٔɽɥѕѽՍ)䁉ݡܸ͡Qɔٕ́ȁ)ͥՅѥݡɔѡ́́=,%ѡ́)Ѽԁԁхͼ)ɕЁѡ٥Յ + )!ٔո)1ٔͽչ́ɕѥٔ]ɬݥѠѡ)́׊eɔ᥹٥ѡȁ)ͥɕͽչeЁɅѼͽ)ѡѡЁ͕́ѽхչٕѥ)%dՑQ]ɭ͡ȁ])Ḿ͕ɽѥ聥ٔͽչ)́ͽѡѡЁѕɕ́԰$ѕ)ɼѼͽչ́ȁݽ)ͥٔɅ́ͽ̤)=х݄ȁɔɵѥ٥ͥ)ѡ=х݄5ͥ% ѥͥє)Ёܹх݅