Monday, April 06, 2015

Music Education Monday:
Sound system basics

While sound reinforcement is a complex and changing field even for full-time professionals, every working musician can benefit from a basic knowledge of how sound systems work and how to set up and operate a simple PA (public address) system. So for this week's "Music Education Monday," here are some links to free resources on the web that provide useful and relatively concise introductory material on the topic:

* From Live Systems, a sound contractor in the UK, here's a primer on "Public Address (PA) Basics."

* From the audio gear manufacturer PreSonus, a closer look at "How To Configure Your PA System."

* Another audio gear manufacturer, Rane, delves further into the potentially mysterious world of gain structures with a tutorial on "Setting sound system level controls."

* And in an article that's a few years old but still pertinent, the pros at Mix magazine offer a "Back to Basics" presentation on "Sound System Setup, Tuning and Optimization."

In the video windows after the jump, you can see two more audio-related presentations. The first, "Audio 101 - How to do a pro sound check," though presented from the mixing engineer's point of view, offers an idea of what musicians can expect at a larger, multi-artist show, like a festival, for which you may be dealing with limited setup time and audio support personnel who don't know your music already.

The second, "Observing the Setup & Operation of a Stadium PA," is an extended walk-though of the entire procedure of setting up and running a PA for a big outdoor show. While the scale is much larger than for a typical jazz gig, and there's a lot more heavy lifting involved, the underlying task is essentially the same.

As so often happens here on "Music Education Monday," these materials may help you get started, but there's a lot more to the topic. Have you found other useful tutorials or instructional materials about sound reinforcement available online for free? If so, please share your favorites in the comments. You can see the videos after the jump...

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