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Board mix breaks up band

I do live sound gigs sometimes when someone wants to pony up a few bucks to pay me. When I do run sound it usually kicks ass.

There’s a heavy metal band I did some albums for and they hire me to do many live sound gigs as well. They have a big PA and it sounds killer.

The last gig I did for them was at a scary biker bar. The day after I did this gig a guy staggered into the bar with more than a dozen knife wounds…

This is a pretty easy gig. They set up the PA and I show up and twiddle some knobs. So for the hell of it I decided to bring my laptop, and an I/O (that’s soundman geek talk for input/output device) to capture some audio. I just ran a “board mix” straight into my laptop. If you know what a board mix is then you know they don’t necessarily sound very good. The issue is that POST mixer a ton of processing can take place in the PA. For these guys it’s namely thousands of watts of power with some EQ’s and compression blasting out of dozens of big speakers. So the sound coming out of the console may sound quite weak and out of balance if you don’t listen to it out of the PA.

Board mixes are almost always out of balance due to the stage volume of the players. The guitar player in this band for instance has quite a few Marshall amps which are loud as hell. So since his stage volume is very loud it’s not necessary to pump him out of the PA very much. The resulting recording of would then be lacking guitar because of this.

So what we ended up with was a mix that you would simply critique the band’s playing and tightness. I burned the band a CD of the gig (not from

A couple of weeks later I get this crazy email from the drummer listing his $30,000 (supposedly) drum kit for sale. I later find out that after the drummer heard the board mix he got into a big fight with his bandmates. He thought the sound sucked and said that the singer sounded stupid when he talked to the audience inbetween songs. This singer has talked like this from day one. The only thing I can figure is that the drummer didn’t have as good of time since he was SOBER for the first time at a gig! Whatever the real reason is the band broke up. I felt a little guilty even though I clearly explained that the board mix wouldn’t sound all that great.

So in trying to do a favor for some guys, I produced the straw that broke the camel’s back. I’ll think again before I do any more clients any “favors.”