Vocal Technique - Coaches

October 26th, 2011 | by VoiceCouncil

Sound Checks and Line Checks


Bring confidence and civility with you to your next venue –says Shlomo

It looked like a disaster in the making – the mics were screeching feedback, we couldn’t hear ourselves and we had no idea of how we were sounding out front.

I’d arrived to do with my brand new 7 piece vocal project “The Lip Factory” at a prestigious conference of tech experts (!) and were given only a few minutes to do a “line check”.

What you really want before any performance is a proper sound check.

This is where you get to the venue before it’s open, and take plenty of time to ensure that every channel is working the way you want – preferably with your own sound engineer.

But there’s not always time for this – it may be because you’re participating in a festival or, like us, in the middle of a long night of entertainment.

The Ominous Line Check

Often when you do a line check the audience is already there – you step onto stage, plug in your stuff, check your lines through the monitors – and then you’re on!

Now, “The Lip Factory” is a 7 piece vocal band and we have to ensure that we have just the right mix to sound our best – and, thus, we like a good, long sound check.

So, how does one cope in a situation like this?

Tips for Your Next Check

* First, it makes a massive difference to have your own sound engineer along with you. The ‘In-House’ engineer has a lot on her or his mind thinking through the audio needs of all of the different groups. You just can’t be their priority. If you bring your own sound engineer, you have someone who knows exactly what you need and the in-house engineer has a much-needed break.

* If you can’t hear yourself clearly in the monitors, don’t strain your voice in an attempt to sing more loudly – this might sound terrible for your audience. Signal calmly to the sound engineer to turn you up. Ultimately, there has to be a degree of trust that your sound is getting out there.

* Inspire confidence in others. While everyone was on stage I had a quick listen from the “house” and realized that it sounded good. So I told everyone that we were going to sound way better than it sounded on stage. When it became clear that the audience was getting into our performance, that gave us even more confidence.

* If you don’t have your own sound engineer with you then ensure you build a good relationship with the house engineer – I just go up and introduce myself and ask how things are going. It’s just being civil. You are, after all, entering into a musical collaboration so a little friendship before the performance doesn’t hurt. Also, I think that sound engineers are too often treated like second-class human beings – there’s no excuse for that.

If you only have a line-check, then make the most of the time you have.

Otherwise, “May the Full Sound Check Be With You.”

-Shlomo

My Reactions to This Week’s Peer Review Vids

William Spears – Bad Man (original)

William – There is a great naturally soulful tone in your voice and I’d like to hear you push that further. It would be good to hear a bit more variation, both rhythmic, and also in style and tone, especially after the guitar solo. I’m imagining a real soaring line coming back in with a lift in intensity and power.

-Shlomo

Shlomo’s exclusive VoiceCouncil Interview – he discusses his most embarrassing, challenging and productive moments…

Check out Shlomo’s New Lip Factory EP

Shlomo gave up astrophysics to perform his amazing vocal pyrotechnics. It was a good move. Since then he has won global acclaim and worked with some of the biggest names in music. He’s the 2011 winner of the World Loopstation Championships in LA and is now knee deep in a dizzying festival season including Glastonbury and The Edinburgh Fringe Festival. His next project is a brand new vocal project called “Shlomo and the Lip Factory” which launches with a new EP and mini tour in October. You can check out his latest news, tunes, videos and competitions at http://facebook.com/shlomizzle or

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  • KowBoy Tom

    Shlomo, this is excellent advice; especially since facing this kind of sound check problem is inevitable. Thanks for giving us a way to get through it.-KowBoy Tom

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