A Sound Engineer's Survival Kit

FEATUREDPosted by admin on September 29, 2014

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:

  1. Peli case (Orange 1520)
    Bright orange - everyone will know which one is mine! Nice and large, will last a lifetime (guaranteed by Peli).
  2. 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!
  3. Laser measurement tool
    So useful for calculating exact delay time for delay speakers, quick and easy
  4. 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
  5. Small interface
    Went for the Focusrite 2i2 - solid build quality and good sounding box. Used for SMAART / RTA 
  6. 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!
  7. 94 db calibrator
    Useful to get an accurate dB reading of the event
  8. Tape - gaffa and PVC/LX and Sharpie
    Don't really need to say why. Standard!
  9. Switchable mic
    Almost anything will do here, I had a spare Wharfedale DM2.0 lying around! For talkback
  10. DI boxes
    Passive is ideal in case you don't have a phantom line available but it's great life saver 
  11. iPad and iPad mic stand mount
    Great for wireless monitoring of digital systems 
  12. Router & CAT5 cables
    So irritating if you have a wireless-capable desk and no wireless! Also useful as a CAT5 switch. 
  13. Batteries
    Obvious one! 
  14. Hearing protection
    A vote for some Elacin ER20 - 'flat' frequency reduction 
  15. 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
  16. Head torch
    Useful if you need both hands! 
  17. Mini torch
    Useful if you need a bright little sucker! Check Amazon for cheap but great ones (zoomable, bright...)
  18. 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 :-)
  19. Hand cleaner & Paracetamol
    Always horrible to eat after you've been coiling cables, or have a cold and need some relief!
  20. Cable tester
    Useful to know if a cable is dodgy or not, quick and easy to use. Millenium MCT-20! 
  21. Cable ties
    Great where tape just won't cut it 
  22. Multi-tool
    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.
  23. Hi Vis jacket
    You don't want to be that person under the truss that people can't see and drop bolts! 
  24. 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! 
  25. Mini toolbox with screwdrivers
    Great in case the multi tool won't cut it! 
  26. Business cards
    You do a great job then forget business cards? Not cool man. Looks under-prepared
  27. Allan Key set / Adjustable Spanner
    There's always that one loose speaker stand / bracket...
  28. Phone Charger & Portable power bank
  29. Multimeter
    Great for checking continuity etc 
  30. Fuses
    A variety, 13amp, 5amp etc 
  31. K&M Clamp and Bendable gooseneck
    Really useful to mount your measurement mic to a handle or use as a headphone holder!
  32. 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
  33. USB-RS232
    Serial ports are still out there! Can be so helpful if you're stuck and need to control e.g. Roland M48/S-MADI
  34. 13a Plug tester
    Good to have a quick sanity check that live and neutral aren't swapped or any other power issues
  35. Some generic mics as 'standby'
    Good to have a spare SM57/SM58/Condenser on standby
  36. Stereo bar
    Great for stereo mic-ing but also for holding two handheld mics on stage neatly ready for MCs to grab 
  37. RF Explorer
    Good to do an analysis in the field of your RF spectrum before deployment 


Posted by Speakerbug on
This is a cool site mate, its good to be able to run through a checklist and make sure, ive prepared for all the possible issues that will probably arise haha, keep up the good work sharing this info!
Posted by josiah Godwins on
I knew I had some loop holes to fill concerning the right tools to carry along. You just made my a lot easier with this list. Thank you.
Posted by Rami Azer on
Great List! Thanks for putting this together.
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