The sound tech role can easily be one of the most overlooked positions in a live performance as long as everything is running smoothly. However, the second someone’s ear tells them something isn’t quite right all eyes can quickly turn to the sound booth. Now we know you can’t please everyone, but long before any sound issues arise at the most inconvenient times let’s look at these foolproof tips for having optimum sound during the performance.


  1. Know the plans for the show and communicate them well. Is this a special performance with high attendance expected? How many singers, musicians or speakers will be on stage? Are there solos, guitar licks or transitions you need to be made aware of? All of these things can change or impact what happens in the sound booth both before and during a live show. It might sound obvious to the seasoned sound tech, but knowing what’s going to happen ahead of time and communicating that well within your team is crucial to having a seamless performance.
  2. Leave room for adjustments and be ready to make them. The human voice (spoken or sung) is one of the most common sources of sound and has a frequency range of 80 Hz—8 kHz, which makes it comparable to a piano. If there are 4-6 part harmonies being sung on stage or on choir risers, you would need to be ready to make the correct adjustments to make sure you are capturing the vocal ranges well. For vocals, a good rule of thumb on basic vocal ranges in Hz:
    Soprano 250 Hz—1045 Hz
    Alto 170 Hz—690 Hz
    Tenor 125 Hz—525 Hz
    Baritone 95 Hz—395 Hz
    Bass 80 Hz—330 Hz
    As you account for these different ranges, using notch filters and compression can aid in creating the best sound. Getting a good feel for these resources takes both time and study and will rarely have a one-size-fits-all for every singer or instrument on the stage.
  3. Know the equipment you’re working with and be comfortable using it. Fewer things can be more irritating to a sound tech than hearing something that isn’t right and not being able to fix it. Often times this can be remedied by proper prior planning. Different compressors have different personalities and chances are the user manual was created for a reason, so take the time to read it and familiarize yourself with it. Voices and electric guitars are very different and produce very different sounds so knowing the right ratio, attack, release and threshold is important to know how to make the correct changes and where to make them.
  4. Walk around the room and stage. During soundcheck or rehearsal, don’t be afraid to leave the board and walk around the room to check the sound. Often soundboards and mixers are put away from the main stage or off to the side. Walking around the room can give you a better idea of what your adjustments are doing to the whole space or help you spot issues you simply can’t note from where you are perched. Also, don’t be afraid to walk around the stage to hear what the musicians and singers hear. As a sound tech, you’re all too familiar with, “Can I have more me?” or “I can’t hear myself”. A simple walk through the stage can help you get a better feel for the stage feed and increase communication between you and the rest of the team.
  5. Listen and balance. Your most valuable possession as the sound tech is your ears. As you make the adjustments make sure to identify each voice, pair equal voices (voices singing the same part) and always balance each group relative to other groups (rhythm section, winds, brass..etc). If the audience can’t understand the words being said or sung then adjustments need to be made. While effects have their place they can’t be used all the time (ex. if the singer starts to speak) so careful listening and sensitivity to voices and sounds are crucial to obtaining a good balance.


Vocals stand out well when you’ve done a good job planning and balancing the distributions of the frequencies. Mixing sound for your live show can be a very labor intensive task if doing it very well is your goal. However when you know what the plans are, the equipment you’re using and are up to the challenge it can be a very rewarding role.

One of the biggest challenges to producing great live sound is having the right equipment. If after these tips your equipment still doesn’t produce great sound it could be time to find the right fit that will. Audio Acoustics has been designing and installing systems for 50 years. We know how to tailor your sound systems to precisely meet the needs of your space.

Are you still struggling to get what you think you should from your sound equipment? Contact us today and see how we can help.