An open question to sound techs: in Craig Vecchione's Live Sound & Production Posted January 14, 2017 · Edited January 14, 2017 by SteinbergerHack A really great bunch of musicians can and will control their dynamics appropriately. Yes, and if they don't, it is the conductor/director's job to deal with it. In the end, what's wrong with putting your speaker off stage (hint - if you have a separate head & speaker you can keep the head onstage for tweaking and remote the speaker only (less issues with the long cables as well))? How does that solve the problem of hearing relative levels with the rest of the group? That's just another way to add a problem into the middle of the feedback loop among all the musicians. If you have it folded back through your monitors then you still should be able to control the dynamics to get that blend you're talking about. Sorry, but that's just nonsense. I've got a trumpet and trombone playing straight at my head. What SHOULD be happening is that we all match together, playing at the dynamics set by the score and the director. Having 15 instruments live and 6 neutered doesn't allow this. In any case, the mix in our headphones seems to be moving around every night, and I have no direct way to adjust it. The bottom line is that we have no reliable basic level reference. With a horn, percussion or string instrument, you know very directly how to control and get p, mp, mf, f, ff, etc.; with an electric instrument, you MUST have a dynamic reference in order to level-set. For me, I tend to use the brass instruments, because a full trumpet/trombone blast should be a bit louder than my max level (fff). Once I have that baseline, I can manage everything else from there, all the way down to pp. If the sound tech is worth his/her salt then they should place you in the mix where that same blend is sent to the audience. Simply not possible - and in any case, you've got the cart before the horse. What the audience hears should mirror what is being played and heard by the performers, not the other way 'round. Setting relative levels and dynamics is not the sound tech's job. This is the job of the director/conductor. The sound tech isn't reading the score, and is not responsible for dynamics - neither relative nor overall. Imagine a symphony orchestra playing a Brahms work. Is it the sound tech's job to determine what level the french horns should be in the "mix"? ABSOLUTELY NOT! The sound tech's job is to precisely mirror what the musicians are creating under the director's guidance, not to pick and choose him/herself what he/she wants to hear. A "perfect" mix is one that changes nothing other than the volume level - the amplified sound should be no different from the stage sound - just louder. Possibly you are one of the few who really understands dynamics. If so you are the exception rather than the rule. Perhaps. I played symphonic violin before I switched to guitar, so my views come from a traditional music approach, not from bar-bands. I know that as a musician there is a tendency to play just a tiny bit louder to make sure you're playing your part right (not saying over the top - just so you can hear yourself). Right. This is why you point your cabinet at yourself, so that you hear yourself louder than anyone else does. This is no different from playing violin, where it's close enough to your ear that it will always be a few dB louder than anything else. If you're buried in the mix, this can be difficult BUT sometimes you should be buried in the mix (it all depends on the material of the moment). Let the sound person do this for you. That's their job. Yes, there are places where every instrument should be layered in the mix, and places where they should be on top. This is written in the score, and/or directed by the conductor. It is decidedly NOT the sound tech's job to make that happen, though. It is the conductor's job, working through the individual musicians. An interesting thing happened last night. About 10 minutes before curtain, the sound tech came to me with a couple of very specific (and impossible) requests to "change my patches". Given the way my rig is structured, what he was asking for was basically nonsense....so I asked him what problem he was trying to solve. He told me what he was hearing, and I made some adjustments. Here's the upshot - he wanted me to reprogram a bunch of stuff when what was needed was a pickup change or a picking adjustment. The good news is that he's a decent guy and I get the impression that he has a good sense of what sounds good out front, so the end result is all good. IMO, part of the trouble comes in when a tech guy thinks that a guitar's sound and level are all governed by programming in a rack unit, and that each "patch" is a set, specific volume level. A real player has TONS of dynamic control, from picking technique, guitar volume, pickup selection, and a whole host of other inputs that have nothing to do with the programmable electronics or amp settings. Sound guys think in terms of electronics and programming, while players think in terms of their instrument, You'd never try to micro-manage a violinist to change to a different bow or move their bridge position, would you? Of course not! You would tell them if their instrument sounded too dark or too brittle, and let them adjust their playing, right? Why is it that sound techs always think they can micro-manage the guitars, but don't attempt to do this with any other instrument? I resisted posting on this for a while as I didn't want to bruise any egos. No worries - no ego issues here. It's all about trying to make the performance the best it can be - with the least stress imposed on the largest number of people. IMO, this is a healthy discussion topic that's probably easier to hash out in a forum like that than in person or in a performance situation where tempers can get frayed due to pressure and stress. YMMV.