A Sound Engineer's Survival Kit
I haven't been blogging in a quite some time as I've been so busy out and about juggling multiple jobs! I'm now knuckling down to focus solely on sound engineering; so here's my big tip of many to follow...
Get a mix support kit together
...or whatever you'd like to call it! It's really your 'get out of jail free' and handy-to-have box of trickery. Can help save an event; or at least a lot of hassle!
It's not strictly necessary to have everything on this list but a good majority helps. And you may find one case isn't enough!
Here's what I have invested in:
- Peli case (Orange 1520)
Bright orange - everyone will know which one is mine! Nice and large, will last a lifetime (guaranteed by Peli).
- Closed-back monitoring headphones
Personally I chose the Sennheiser HD-25 C II - great isolation and clear sound. Coiled cable so no snagging on desk!
- Laser measurement tool
So useful for calculating exact delay time for delay speakers, quick and easy
- Loads of adapters and cables
E.g. XLR gender benders, XLR to jack, mini jack to twin 6.35mm jack, XLR patch, jack leads, USB A-B, Thunderbolt-Firewire etc
- Small interface
Went for the Focusrite 2i2 - solid build quality and good sounding box. Used for SMAART / RTA
- Measurement mic
Beyerdynamic MM1 is a good balance between price point and quality. Around £120 and you can obtain the calibration file from Beyer. Get a K&M table clamp and gooseneck for easy fixing to FOH desk!
- 94 db calibrator
Useful to get an accurate dB reading of the event
- Tape - gaffa and PVC/LX and Sharpie
Don't really need to say why. Standard!
- Switchable mic
Almost anything will do here, I had a spare Wharfedale DM2.0 lying around! For talkback
- DI boxes
Passive is ideal in case you don't have a phantom line available but it's great life saver
- iPad and iPad mic stand mount
Great for wireless monitoring of digital systems
- Router & CAT5 cables
So irritating if you have a wireless-capable desk and no wireless! Also useful as a CAT5 switch.
- Hearing protection
A vote for some Elacin ER20 - 'flat' frequency reduction
- USB stick with show files templates
Get a USB together which contains nothing but show file templates for common digital platforms you expect to work on
- Head torch
Useful if you need both hands!
- Mini torch
Useful if you need a bright little sucker! Check Amazon for cheap but great ones (zoomable, bright...)
- Lights for desk - USB powered
After mixing a dark festival the other day with no desk light I decided to invest in 2 x Mighty Bright 2 LED USB powered gooseneck lights. Means you can plug them into your laptop or phone charger or desk and it will help you see :-)
- Hand cleaner & Paracetamol
Always horrible to eat after you've been coiling cables, or have a cold and need some relief!
- Cable tester
Useful to know if a cable is dodgy or not, quick and easy to use. Millenium MCT-20!
- Cable ties
Great where tape just won't cut it
Can always go Leatherman but I didn't want to fork out to begin with, went with a really nice Gerber Suspension. Only £22 and comes with pouch, fantastic build quality. Be aware that anything with a locking blade or a blade over 3" can be classed as an offensive weapon and should not be carried around in public on your person (backpack is fine though) under the Offensive Weapons Act. On an event you can justify it due to your job, but not at the chippy afterward! Make sure the pliers are wide enough to undo those irritating mic thread adapters.
- Hi Vis jacket
You don't want to be that person under the truss that people can't see and drop bolts!
- Soldering iron & solder
If you're on a 2 or 3 day festival and don't want to drive back home to fix it, take this with you!
- Mini toolbox with screwdrivers
Great in case the multi tool won't cut it!
- Business cards
You do a great job then forget business cards? Not cool man. Looks under-prepared
- Allan Key set / Adjustable Spanner
There's always that one loose speaker stand / bracket...
- Phone Charger & Portable power bank
Great for checking continuity etc
A variety, 13amp, 5amp etc
- K&M Clamp and Bendable gooseneck
Really useful to mount your measurement mic to a handle or use as a headphone holder!
- Large format router / Gigabit switch
Useful for bigger shows if you're stuck - can act as a Dante switch or as a high power access point
Serial ports are still out there! Can be so helpful if you're stuck and need to control e.g. Roland M48/S-MADI
- 13a Plug tester
Good to have a quick sanity check that live and neutral aren't swapped or any other power issues
- Some generic mics as 'standby'
Good to have a spare SM57/SM58/Condenser on standby
- Stereo bar
Great for stereo mic-ing but also for holding two handheld mics on stage neatly ready for MCs to grab
- RF Explorer
Good to do an analysis in the field of your RF spectrum before deployment