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Top Tips for Aspiring Live Sound Engineers

A Career in Live Sound
A common enquiry here at the music college is from prospective students who want to carve out a career in the live music industry, but are not sure precisely what live sound engineer jobs entail. The good news for aspiring live sound engineers is that the past decade has seen a shift in demand from buying records to going to live shows. Consequently the live music industry is booming and demand has increased for professionally trained sound engineers. This article gives a run-down of the typical tasks a professional sound engineer will face, the qualifications and skills that will appeal to potential employers, and how we can help you reach your goal.

Typical Duties
Live sound engineer jobs involve controlling the sound at live events such as music gigs and theatre performances. For a live gig your tasks are likely to include positioning and rigging up microphones and amplifiers, conducting sound checks with the artists before the show, and then balancing the sound levels during the performance through a mixing desk.

If you are involved in a theatre production your tasks might include planning sound effects and music with the director, pre-recording the required audio, and controlling the sound through the mixing desk during shows with the help of cues from the stage manager. It is important to bear in mind that most live sound engineer jobs will require you to be fit and strong enough to shift lots of heavy equipment. You may also be required to help to set up and operate lighting equipment as part of a sound and lighting crew.

Our Live Sound Engineering Courses are designed to give you all the knowledge, skills and experience necessary to put yourself in pole position in the hunt for live sound engineering jobs.

Key knowledge that you will learn includes:

  • The science of soundwaves
  • Essential electrical theory
  • Types of microphone and their uses
  • Levels and metering
  • Equalisation
  • Types of effect (Reverb, delay, chorus etc.)
  • Compression
  • Advanced acoustics
  • Lighting effects for sound engineers

Key skills that you will learn include:

  • Understanding cabling and connections
  • Navigating commonly used mixing desks
  • Microphone placement techniques
  • How to use routing and aux sends
  • How to prevent feedback
  • Various approaches to live recording
  • Mixing and mic techniques for large venues
  • Incorporating electronic instruments, backing tracks and DJ equipment

Through weekly classes in a real venue and monthly gigs with real live bands you will gain valuable experience for your CV including:

  • Loading in, setting up and soundchecking
  • Laying out the stage
  • Creating simple and complex monitor set-ups
  • Reinforcing the sound through a mixing desk during live performance
  • Creating a live multitrack recording
  • Artist liaison and scheduling

To further increase your prospects of finding live sound engineer jobs, we always encourage our students to gain as much experience outside the course as possible. This could be by being a roadie for a band, helping backstage at a local theatre, working as a DJ or working for a sound equipment retailer. Through this demonstration of your dedication and pro-activity to gain as much live sound experience as possible, combined with the strong foundation of technical knowledge that you will build on the Live Sound Engineering Course, you will put yourself in a great position to start earning a living as a live sound engineer.

For more advice, support and valuable networking opportunities consider joining professional bodies such as the Association of British Theatre Technicians, the Professional Lighting and Sound Association or the Institute of Sound and Communications Engineers.

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Editor’s Note: This is an old article and things have moved on considerably since the original publication date 🙂

For more information head over to the Point Blank Music School website to learn the very latest about our school.

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