Sound Check 101 for Singers

The sound test for a live performance is fundamental for both the performers of the world of classical music and those of modern music. The latter, when amplified (voices and instruments) must have a minimum knowledge of what happens when the sounds and particularly the voices are amplified.

Professional bands usually have a sound technician with them who will be a key person when it comes to understanding the basic terminology of doing a sound check. That will help his work and will help the singer know what he is asking of the technician.

In the case of amateur bands, the adjustment between the voices and the instruments should be done by the group itself and that is why they will need feedback from an external person while doing their very own sound test. There’s a lot to be done, and a lot of things you need to be familiar with. Not understanding the meaning of the following sentence is an indication that you need to talk more with your technician: “Tell the singer that if the sound does not come back to him the way he wants it, he has to tell me”. It is important to note that not being heard on stage is something very different from not liking your voice when you hear it recorded or amplified. Learning to listen to one another on a recording and on a stage is fundamental for both personal study and professional practice.

Where to Start?

You should start with the FOH speakers turned off, so the only thing you will hear is the monitors and they should give you everything you need for your interpretation. Start singing a song or part of it a cappella (without instrumental accompaniment) and sing it in the same way you will in the performance (with the same energy and vocal projection). Place the microphone in front of you and do not move away from it in the acute zone. The technician will regulate the Faders on the mixer and adjust the level of bass and treble.

Don’t wait to finish the song to tell the technician what you need. If you feel that your voice sounds too muffled (without brightness) the mic may have too much bottom and the technician can regulate that,

On the other hand, if your voice sounds too metallic the mic may have too much top that the technician can regulate (Toppy). If you get the feeling that the voice is like in a box it is usually because there is too much middle tone. You can say that it sounds a bit boxy and they will fix it. (Boxy). If the technician tells you that there is not enough Gain, it means that they do not have enough volume to be able to work. You should sing louder or closer to the microphone.

Once you are satisfied with the sound returned by the monitors, it is time to add the sound of the choirs and the rest of the musicians. If you are not in the same channel you can ask for more piano, more guitar or even eliminate one. It is convenient to keep the keyboards, the bass and the instruments that help you to maintain the tuning and feel the sustenance of the harmony.

In some cases you can wear internal headphones, if you have followed shows like The Voice you’ve seen all the singers wearing this type of headphones that allow you to listen directly in the ear instead of the monitors. They are a version of stage monitors. It takes time to get used to them, if you use them try to take the two positions, you should know that it is necessary to wear a belt that captures the signal for the headphones to work.