the last minute call for advice

I think we’ve all been there, or at least I have. The call comes through when you’re busy preparing for your own gig, you see the name of an old friend on the caller id, and you think what’s the harm in a little catching up? Then, just a few moments after exchanging pleasantries the other shoe drops; they wanted to reconnect, but also need some emergency advice during their volunteer live sound gig.

I actually love solving problems (look at my profession!), but not every moment is convenient for giving advice over the phone. So, I was extremely excited when I stumbled across an article on ProSoundWeb by Bruce Bartlett entitled “The Checklist: Solutions for Fixing Church Sound System Problems.” I wasn’t, however, excited because all my calls come from friends who volunteer for churches, quite the opposite, really. Rather, I was heartened because both demographics share some common elements; they’re volunteers, and they’re doing the best they can with the skill sets they have available. Because of this, I’ve decided to arm some of my volunteer engineer friends with this article as a pocket guide. My hope is that by providing them with this article which doesn’t explicitly give them the answers, but rather teaches them where to look, they’ll improve their troubleshooting skills over time.

From The Checklist:
“Check all switch positions. Is a mic/line switch set to “line” when it should be set to “mic?” Is a fader down that should be up? Is a microphone not assigned to the proper channels or groups? Are any mute or solo buttons pressed? Is the input trim turned all the way down? Is a wireless microphone turned off? Is phantom power turned on for condenser mics?”

If you’ve ever found yourself in my position, try passing it on! Who knows, it just might save you some time trying to explain why the sound isn’t coming out.

Have any techniques for helping a friend out remotely? Have you sworn off telephone advice permanently? Share you thoughts or experiences in the comments below!

Kyle P. Snyder

Kyle P. Snyder is an engineer, educator, and consultant skilled in audio recording and mixing, sound design for film and video, facility design and integration, and live event production. Snyder works remotely on projects of all sizes from his Ohio-based studio, White Coat Audio, LLC. He is also a faculty member within Ohio University’s School of Media Arts & Studies dedicated to the advancement of audio education for engineers at every stage of development where he routinely teaches courses in music production, critical listening, and sound design for film and video.