Well, we’ve all been there. Setting up a gig, running a sound check or a show, cabling everything up, but there is always something we misplaced or left at home. It’s those little things, which can be time consuming while you try to hunt it down of somebody else running about. It is disruptive, annoying and slows down your workflow. And time is either you greatest asset or biggest liability before and during a live show.
Of course we are not talking about amps, mics and cables here. We’re talking about the little things, the handy ones that are often overlooked.
So what do you need?
A sharpie or black marker
Those little things are lifesavers and come attached to key chains, slip into your pocket or can even be carried in your mouth.
If you ever need to label some stuff on the fly for further reference, like a new patch, channels on your board, a note for the musicians or cables, it would be a shame to spend minutes trying to track somebody down who’s got one. This one is essential.
White Gaff or Masking Tape
Considering we are working in the entertainment industry where there’s plenty of gaffa tape around, it still makes sense to keep the white variety in close proximity. Much like the sharpie, you are going to need it when it comes to labeling your “analogue” board, a new patch cable or tracer, leaving a note on stage, fixing stuff in a highly dodgy manner, marking placements on stage, keeping a lyric sheet at place and removing your girlfriends leg hair.
A Cable Tester (with tone generator and speaker)
To speed things up when it comes to troubleshooting, a cable tester is worth gold. They are cheap, more suitable for the purpose than a multimeter and you can run a test tone through your signal cables. Essential! Some of them even have a little speaker built in, so you can for example check in the amp room if you are getting signal from the board.
Another tool which is vital for troubleshooting, checking connectivity and continuity. You will usually find one on site but it can take time to track it down, time you should rather spend on working what you get paid for, running a show.
A 9-Volt Battery
Not only can you check the phase of speakers in a quick manner, you could also be a musician’s best friend if his 600-dollar guitar effect pedal power supply starts to smoke up. Nevertheless, some active DI Boxes require a 9 Volt Battery to run properly, and believe me, phantom power or not, if the battery is dead it sounds awful.
SPL Meter and RTA – the poor mans version
To be completely honest, this is not something I would spend a lot of money on. A laptop with Smaart Live and an Earthworks microphone is just overkill for most gigs. I would rather suggest a nice phone app for your iPhone or Android with some readily available and free apps. Some of them can be calibrated quite professionally and if you ever get your hands on a proper SPL meter you will see the difference can be neglected for most purposes.
To be fair, you don’t have to spend your after work drinking money on a top of the line Leatherman. A midrange model will do since you’re going to abuse it anyway. Cut, tighten, file, open beers, throw it at somebodies head, whatever you like. Go get one.
Despite of phone apps being available, this time I would suggest getting the proper thing. You don’t want to crawl behind racks where you need both hand with a phone in your mouth.
Visually Impaired, Do not leave your glasses behind
This can bite you in the arse in dim lighting when you’re trying to read the small print on an EQ, compressor, label or phone number the girl next to the booth gave you. Pack’em!
Those are the things every sound technician should have when he goes to work. It is professional and will save you loads of time. Furthermore, some other things to consider:
- Adapters and Adapter Cables
- Phase reverse cables
- Speakon links
- DeOx or Contact Spray
- Solder and Soldering Iron
- Hearing Protection
- Rubber Gloves, non powdered, to waterproof Belt Packs and Mic Transmitters
Author: Alexander Schoenknecht – Sound-Prospect.com