encouraging a unified worship experience

7 Ways to Annoy Your Sound Tech (Mr Soundman, bring me a dreamy sound!)

Photo Maciek Bielec

Ok, I realize the parenthetical title is very cheesy! However, I learned years ago that a sound person can make or break a worship pastor. Those of us who have suffered through terrible sound operators realize the value of quality people in this position. If you currently have a good sound person (as I am blessed to have), be sure to pick his or her brain on things you can do to make life easier. With this in mind, I asked my sound tech to forward me some things that irritate or make his job more difficult. Let me qualify, I of course am not guilty of ANY of these things! With that in mind, here is Luke's list (with some of my own comments intertwined):

1. If it’s not your turn…wait. 

As a musician, this can be difficult for us to understand. After all, our solo IS the most important...right? We should keep in mind that there is a small amount of time to soundcheck all of the items on the worship set for that day and sighing, pacing, or complaining do not help. Be patient, they'll get to you!

2. The rehearsal starts at 7:30pm but we won’t really start playing until maybe 8?

Be PROMPT! If your band or orchestra rehearsal begins at 7:30, be in your seat ready to play at that time. If praise team rehearsals begin at 6:00, be standing and ready to begin at 6:00. If you are a director, begin at the time you set. Remember, the people behind the board have lives outside of the church. Give them the courtesy of being on time!


3. The first sound in the mic should not be ‘I’m too loud’ or’ ‘I can’t hear myself’. Give us at least 45 minutes to get the balance right! (No, really 5 minutes would be good.)

Trust me, these guys are working diligently behind the sound board. Their first priority is to get the house sound as closely balanced as possible. Be patient! They will get to you. Just sing/play as normal and allow them to adjust you to fit the mix.


4.  'Sound check' is not your rehearsal time!

We as musicians/performers should have all of our issues worked out before hand. Sound check should be just that...sound check. This is a time for the sound tech to make sure you can hear the band/track and to make sure your mix in the house is good. Most live shows such as the Grammy Awards have a strict schedule and are pushing acts on and off stage very quickly. Fortunately, most of our Sunday rehearsals are not this way. However, the technical team is on a schedule. When we come unprepared, it can hinder their work.


5. Have solo accompaniment track ready at least a day before the service when possible.

If you choose to use an accompaniment track, getting this to the sound tech early can be a big help. This will enable them to make sure the track is correct, confirm that it is playable on the equipment used, rip it (in our case) to the sound computer, or enhance the quality prior to the service. While most people prefer live accompaniment, if you need to use a track, be sure to get it in early.


6. Surprise!! Let’s talk instead of sing, it’s fun to watch the sound guy freak out as he tries to reset the board!

While this may seem minor, it is not. Be sure to let the sound tech know if you are going to speak between songs or during an intro. Most sound techs set mic levels, effects, reverb, etc. for singing. If the person on stage begins speaking during an intro, the sound tech must scramble to turn off these effects and adjust the mic level for speaking. This can easily be avoided by telling the tech BEFORE HAND that you intend to speak prior to the performance.


7. “Hey sound guy, I’m going to play my electric guitar WIRELESSLY. I forgot my cable.”

As the Boy Scout motto states, "BE PREPARED!" Sure the sound tech is eager to assist when possible, but YOU are responsible for your equipment. If you are a guitarist, this means bringing a 1/4" cable with you. Also, something guitarists often forget is the battery in the acoustic pick up. Oft times this battery (9v or AA) will die and people will scramble trying to figure out the issue. Carry some extra batteries with you. If you use in-ear monitors, bring them!  No one wants to share a pair of in-ear monitors after they have been in someone else's ears! GROSS.


Are you a worship leader, sound tech, praise team member or instrumentalist? What would you add to this list (or take away)? Post your thoughts below.
These are my thoughts, what are yours?