Introducing Performers to the Bose System

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Fountain Pen

This article is an editorial and expresses the opinion and experience of the author. Please post comments in the discussion page.
Thank you.

Here is how I introduce new players to the system. I wrote this to describe what I do for festival situations and open stages. I hope you find some ideas that work for other situations too. This originated as a post on the Bose Musicians Forum

If They Trust You

If the performers are used to trusting the sound man, that is: they just want to walk in, plug in, and play... you may have a little difficulty getting them to take the reins (control the T1 ToneMatch Audio Engine).

If they are used to trusting you then things should go smoothly.

This is what I do with open stage situations with guest artists. It sounds like it would take awhile, but really we're talking just a couple of minutes.

Set up for each performer

T1 ToneMatch Audio Engine with L1 Model II L1 Model 1S L1 Compact

L1 Model I / L1 Classic

  • I have a system for each performer so I typically wire things up
    • Channel 1: Vocal Microphone
    • Channel 2: Instrument
  • R1 Remotes wired and attached to the mic stands

Avoiding Feedback

See: Microphone Feedback


Introducing Performers to the System

But before getting into a lot of detail, I just get the gain staging setup in the conventional way. (all volume controls on the remote at zero). This is the time to set the presets for people who have brought their own mics. While I'm doing that I'll point out that all the sound is coming from the Bose systems and that there will be no need for monitors or a separate house mix. That is: Everyone; the performers and the audience will be listening to the same sound source.

How does this thing work?

Time for a quick tutorial about feedback, covering mic angle, positioning and how the system is unlikely to feedback as long as you don't leave an open mic pointing directly at the Cylindrical Radiator®.

T1 ToneMatch Audio Engine

If I am working with a T1 ToneMatch Audio Engine I will point out that I have the vocal microphone in Channel 1 and the instrument input in Channel 2 (my standard approach). Then I will demonstrate how the Channel Volume and Mute buttons work.

If I have set up the Noise Gate on the vocal microphone, I will demonstrate that you have to be singing directly into the microphone to get any sound and I'll explain that this is to prevent feedback.

I also point out the Master Volume and ask the performer to turn down the Master before leaving the stage.

R1 Remote

If I am working with an R1 Remote I will point out that I have the vocal microphone in Channel 1 and the instrument input in Channel 2 (my standard approach). Then I will demonstrate how the Channel Volume and Tone Controls work.

Bring on the sound (one unit at a time)

Turn up the master to just under 1/2 way and get the performers to turn up the individual channels. Encourage them - this is you in control of your sound. Get them to try the other tone controls, and let them get used to the buffered response to the controls. Assure them that what they hear is what is being heard in the house.

If there are concerns - "it seems dry" reassure them that when we bring up the master volumes, they will hear all the natural reverb from the room as it responds to them at performance levels.

Bring on the feedback

With the master volumes at a relatively low level (under 1/2) I warn the performers and then I'll actually induce some feedback by repositioning a microphone (pointing it at the L1). Then we make it go away by tipping the mic back to a better angle (typically upwards). I hand someone a mic and say "here, you try it." You can also show them that if they leave the system in feedback mode, the system will mute it in a few seconds.

Okay - we've tested the worst case scenario and know how to deal with it.

Bring up the volume

Okay: we've got the balance between the players and instruments sorted out, and the performers are comfortable with setting their individual levels in the mix. It's time to bring up the master volumes to suit the house.

Give the performers a chance to do their soundcheck song(s) and adjust as necessary.

Up to this point, I have been talking with an individual musician.

Mixing Live

If working with a group of musicians who are new to the L1 approach, then it is time to talk about mixing. It could be just a few examples:

  • If you can't hear the vocals, turn down.
  • If you can't hear the solo, turn down.
  • If it's your solo, the others get to work with you, to feature the solo.
  • Featuring the Solo:
    • Let the vocalist or soloist set the volume for the band.
    • (repeating) "If you can't hear the solo, turn down."

There is a lot more you could say about this, but I try not to overwhelm people with higher order thinking at this point. You can explain that it's like mixing an album live. Or, that it's like an old school acoustic jam but louder.

On with the show!

If all went well up to this point - you're good to go.

Plan B (ackup)

If someone just doesn't want to deal with it ("what are they paying *you* for?" (mister sound-guy)) then just plug the mics into the mixer, set the levels and go for it the slightly more conventional way).

It takes only a few minutes to go through the whole procedure and I've found that it's well worth it. But if you try to skip any of the steps, you could have an unhappy performer on your hands.

Successful outcome report

I recently worked with a true road warrior who immediately picked up on the system. He then did his performance without a hitch. Read about it here...

Audience Response

The following is an excerpt from a gig report - Gig Report / 8 Live Acts 7 Hours and speaks to working with audience criticism.

Almost everyone there is either a performer or lives with one.

There were also several people who 'do sound'.

The players and their companions were extremely generous in their comments. Lots of those mystery-arm-around-the-shoulders-from-behind and a word in the ear about how great it sounds. For the most part, these come from people who speak about how the whole ensemble sounds.

Audience Criticism

The other comments came from people who want to suggest that I fix things. It was almost always an observation followed by a suggestion.

  • "the Steel Drums are too bright; can you roll off the highs"
  • "her vocal sounds thin; she needs more 300k (sic)"
  • "he needs more volume; bring him up in the mix"
  • "his Guitar is too bright; can you roll off the highs"

Respect the Player

I have a rule about this and it's pretty simple. Except for feedback, I do NOT touch a performer's Remote while they are performing.

Most of the time the performer will hear the problem (if there is one) and either fix it themselves or make eye contact with me and I'll point at the Remote. If they remember the 30 second mini-tutorial I gave them about the Remote, they'll adjust things on their own. If not

  • I'll slip onto the stage between songs and ask for if I can help with the sound.
  • I point out which control I am changing.
  • Explain what I'm doing as I change it.
  • Re-assure him/her that s/he controls the Remote and the sound
  • Get him/her to tweak something
  • Get off the stage

That sounds like a lot but it rarely takes more than a minute.

Responding to Suggestions - The Tutorial

So the people who make 'suggestions about how to correct the sound' get a mini tutorial. It goes like this...

Do you see any monitors?
- No

Do you see any mains?
- No

Okay, so she (pointing to the performer) is listening to herself through the tower behind her, just like we are.
- uh huh

Let's give her a chance to hear it and she can change it if she wants to.
- but ...

I can't change what we hear without changing what she hears. Let's not do that to her in the middle of a song.

If I am talking to a performer, at this point there is usually an epiphany.

If the person making suggestions is not a performer, I'll just repeat that the performer on stage is in control of her sound and that ultimately the 'sound' belongs to her.

I am constantly pleasantly surprised how quickly people on stage figure all of this out - by themselves.

This is a special group of people and I probably invest more with them as individuals than I might in a different group.

At least half of the people there are performers. Many of them will have their first experience in front of the L1s at events like this. I see every L1 related conversation as part of the arc of the story. If I can help someone to understand it when s/he is in the audience, then s/he will probably have a better experience with it on the stage. And it only gets better from there.

This was originally posted About to get my first 2... Introducing Performers